Things I’m Doing Before I Leave Bangalore – II

30 Aug

The first time my brother and I ever attended an iftar evening (the breaking of one’s fast for the day during the month of Ramzan) was way back when mom’s friend invited us all over to their house. Coming from an orthodox a very strict Hindu Brahmin family made no difference in the religious boundaries ma shared while choosing her friends right from her childhood. I think it goes back to the times of my maternal grandmother’s childhood, where she grew up with the tehzeeb (culture, to very poorly translate it from Urdu) of nawabi Lucknow and learnt the intricacies of classical dance (kathak, if you’re curious), music, literature and every other bit of the city’s finer characteristics that have long, long vanished, according to her very fond reminisces. Therefore despite their very austere Brahmin values, my grandparents weren’t rigid about religious boundaries when it came to their daughters making friends because I always remember ma talking about spending evenings with her Muslim friends during iftar, minus eating any meat of course. I must admit I’ve been curious about iftar ever since.

So when ma took us for our first iftar evening, it was something new to us, undoubtedly. A good new. And soon after that, they inaugurated this concept of having iftar stalls at MM Road, Fraser Town. It was during that first year that a friend and I decided to go give the stalls a try. Again, it was a good experience; a new experience, a unique experience. Of course it is a gastronomic delight, especially for a non-vegetarian, for you have stalls innumerable to cater to every non-vegetarian dish craving one may have. I remember having that really amazing mouth-watering, brings-back-childhood-memories seekh kebab after what felt like an eternity. And desserts that I can only remember the taste of, not their name.

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Mutton seekh kebabs roasting over coals on skewers.

There is absolutely something else to have meat grilled and cooked over coal, a taste that nothing else can ever match. And it’s since then that the MM Road iftar obsession started, come every Ramzan. We went during the first year and then just once during the second year but stopped soon after. Therefore, after a rather impromptu plan post work one day, my colleagues and I decided to do a quick stop during the very last week of Ramzan.

While we weren’t indulgent, nibbling our way through the fare at this year’s stalls did bring back fond memories of when the tradition of attending iftar first began and how this popular trend of extravagant exhibits is now such a part of Bangalore during Ramzan. It’s a different experience to immerse oneself in – everyone is out there to eat, eat and eat some more. Once you’re done eating, you drink chai or have kulfi, take a break and contemplate whether you can make some more space for that plate of your favourite meat dish. It’s true.

This time I walked around a bit more, took photographs a bit more and took in the experience a bit more. There was beef, mutton, chicken, lamb, veal, partridge, quail, emu, camel, offal, seafood…and lots more I’m sure I’m not even aware of.

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Meatballs in a spicy, semi-gravy preparation.

 

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Meat slow-cooked and sizzling on a slab of stone.

 

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Our piping hot plate of paththar gosht (meat cooked on a stone slab) doused in spices and flavour.

The only thing I ever really love about what the stalls have to offer is a very good plate of melt-in-your-mouth seekh kebab, which you sometimes need to hunt for. It’s a trial and error discovery, of course. But you do chance upon that one plate of perfectly cooked and mind-blowingly tasty meat which sums up your entire experience. If you’re good with beef, always look for a beef seekh kebab. There’s nothing to beat that. Nothing. Your next bet, if you are a non-vegetarian but anti-beef person, is mutton. The catch is to find one is that is juicy, tender, flavourful and cooked to perfection that only one’s taste buds can ascertain, not words.

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Beef seekh kebabs grilled and roasted to perfection over coal.

We found our perfect plate on our second round. Four of us shared two plates between ourselves and that was all it took. Bas.

It’s something I’m going to miss on occasion in Bangalore; not the excessive amounts of meat but the experience in itself. It’s that one time you head out with friends and gather that innate immunity growing up eating street food in India bestows you with. And it’s that experience of celebrating just how rich our culture really is, because have you ever really sat down and figured out just how much variety there is? Variety in food, clothing, rituals, prayer, belief, spirituality, living, culture…the list is endless, don’t you think? It’s one of those precious times when you go beyond the boundaries of religion to explore the treasures that lie outside one’s closed doors.

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I’m glad we’ve been brought up in an environment that allows us the opportunity to make our own discoveries, away from the limits of religious boundaries. I can only be thankful and grateful to my mother and her openness to expose us to experiences that have given us the confidence to look beyond. Today when we’re so caught up in a “this is mine, that is mine, mine is right” world, it’s enlightening and uplifting to be in a mental space that has no binding limitations because where else can experiences come from if you choose to sit in your boxed confines expecting to see the world without taking a step forward? Even if it’s in the form of a plate of food.

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One Response to “Things I’m Doing Before I Leave Bangalore – II”

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  1. Ramzaan Reminiscing | Babska's Journey - June 17, 2016

    […] last time I wrote about it was in this post here, as the time for me to leave my home city was nearing. I remember mentioning how our upbringing […]

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