Friday, January 06, 2006

Food, again.


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Late last evening I was obsessing so much about cutlets, I could nearly taste them in my mouth. As a rule, i only obsess about food. Infrequently.

Hmmmmm. Ok, maybe frequently.

Like last evening. My food fantasies are painfully brand-specific; like I have sometimes lusted for Qwality's Kuchi Ice; Ratna Cafe's idlies soaked in sambar; Hyderabadi biryani, India Coffee House' fluffy omlettes ...

And last evening the specificity whittled me down to Indian Coffee House' vegetable cutlets. Not any India Coffee House. Just the one at the corner of Burkit Road, T.Nagar, seated just where the road curves into the madness of T.Nagar traffic. This particular food fetish seemed to have come from inside me, from a memory of several years ago. As a child, my father used to bring us these Indian Coffee House cutlets, hot, sweating and soaking the leaf and paper wrapping they came in.

The smell was what got me addicted, then. The fragrance, I mean, of overcooked vegetables wrapped in a crumb-crust fried to a dark brown-purple. And as you see above, there would be an orange-red sauce/ketchup lookalike and slivers of onion sliced up with small rings of green chilly. Suddenly, all this came back in a rush yesterday, memory morphing into a sensory feeling that sent me all the way from Nandambakkam to T.Nagar. It was like the memory led me on and I only remember sitting on one of those greasy chairs of Indian Coffee House, trying to find a non-greasy part of the table to rest my hands on, watching the man at the next table devour a plate of parotas and move quickly onto puris.

And then, there was the cutlet.

Just like from my distant childhood. The smell, the all-so-familiar muffled taste of beetroot and potato in strange purple, the crispness of the crust. Ah! What satisfaction lies in the realisation of a food fantasy!

P-U-R-E P-L-E-A-S-U-R-E!

x

23 Comments:

Anonymous Ravi said...

Oh God...its close to lunch time and I had to read this!!!! I'm outta here. But seriously, I totally, totally understand your craving them crumb-crusted goodies...er, cutlets! ;)

2:08 pm

 
Blogger None said...

ravi,

i think this food thing runs in the family! :) howdy?
cheers!
ramya

8:18 pm

 
Blogger Ambimama said...

Good lines... certainly brought my appetite up. Triplicane Rathna cafe sambar is legendary in its taste. My uncle tells me that the taste has not changed for almost 30 odd years now. Maybe they have patented it! I am big fan of their "sambar in a mug"

12:49 am

 
Blogger hari said...

Hi Ramya,

A truly mouthwatering post. That pic itself looks so delicious. By the way, thanks for enlightening me about a India Coffee House in T.Nagar. I was never aware of it and do they also serve fluffy omlet. I should be going today.

12:28 pm

 
Blogger Swahilya said...

The flavour and aroma of Chennai pulls me. I'm back on Jan. 10.

7:36 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

India Coffee House (ICH from now on) is HQered in Pondi, if i am right. and it is certainly the best. the ambience of the raj. and if i am also right, it is still the only ICH outlet where we still get the Bombay Toast... a couple of bread slices soaked in milk and egg and served steaming hot. Unlike any other town in south india, pondi had several outlets, starting from the main one on j n st to small ones in muthialpet with seating for only about a dozen people. the ice custard, fruit salad and the idli molaga podi have no comparison. while the desserts are `cheap and best', you cannot find molaga podi like the once at ICH anywhere else in the planet. thats a bet. the podi is fried along with oil and some garlic pieces and served warm. not to mention the beetroot halwa. wow, they warm it up for spl., favourite and exacting customers who want their halwa hot. even the variety rice, the brinj esp, during lunch hours is nice. but the ultimate exp at ich is the steaming coffee. coffee at HSB and other old outlets may be frothy and aromatic, but none like the one at ICH. the flavour simply pierces through the nose, going all the way to the heart, stomach and all over the soul. another speciality about the ICH (which no longer is in vogue in most places) is that the staff take turns. one day, he would be a bearer, a table cleaner the next, cashier the third day and so on.

9:31 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

drool, drool
shelob.

11:48 pm

 
Blogger Ramya said...

yummmmmm!! I want those right here , right now! :o(

11:49 am

 
Blogger Shyam said...

"The fragrance, I mean, of overcooked vegetables wrapped in a crumb-crust fried to a dark brown-purple." - PERFECT description :) I could almost taste the cutlets, Rums :)

8:13 pm

 
Blogger Nirenjan said...

There's a small shop next to Shakes & Creams (Adyar Bakery) in Adyar. These folks serve some of the best cutlets, samosas, bajji's, pakodas, etc. etc. etc.

Nothing beats the taste of eating it hot, while holding it in a newspaper wrapping...

8:20 pm

 
Blogger None said...

ambimama
yeah! there is a ratna cafe now in t.nagar, with the same patented sambar! :)

cheers!

12:30 pm

 
Blogger None said...

swaha,

welcome back!

cheers!

12:31 pm

 
Blogger None said...

anon

i'm not sure india coffee house is hQ-d in Pondy. it is a part of the coffee board's sales counters and are all over the country. or rather were all over the country, until most of them shut down, due to lack of funds, not poor patronage. the one in bangalore is still a hot fave and the pondy unit is always crowded too.
this one however, though i'm convinced it belongs to the same genre, is actually called IndiaN coffee House!

12:53 pm

 
Blogger None said...

shelob,

you bet! biryani seems like my next food fetish!

cheers!

1:00 pm

 
Blogger None said...

ramya,

there is no other way! just go get some!

cheers!
ramya

3:04 pm

 
Blogger None said...

shyam,

when are you going to make them cutlets!? btw, dyu know how to make really soft alu parathas?

cheers!

3:06 pm

 
Blogger None said...

nirenjan,

yeah! you bet! like irani 'kutti samosas'! :)
btw, is that you in the pic?! eppo eduthathu?

cheers!

3:07 pm

 
Blogger capriciously_me said...

cha! indha ulagathula yaarukkume no manasaakshi :((

7:38 am

 
Blogger Karthik said...

India coffee house is indeed head quartered in Pondicherry. If u carefully observe in the hyotel, it would be written !! I am a big fan of their pongal, vada and dosa. Their pongal is heavenly !!! It simply melts in ur mouth.. I generally have breakfast there b4 catching a bus in T Nagar Terminus. Some days, i just keep on eating that am late to office and have a lot of explaining to do to my PL :)

2:17 pm

 
Blogger None said...

cap_me

hey, san diego-la kedaikatha cutlet-a? eppadi pogarathu?

cheers!
ramya

8:36 pm

 
Blogger None said...

karthik,

o good! that's another interessting factoid i am privy to!

cheers!
ramya

8:37 pm

 
Blogger Sandhya Ramachandran said...

:D Great post! I've felt all cutlet-y at times... craving for the delicacy! Super glad to see an article dedicated to it! :)

5:38 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh god....that was so well written..that of i dont see a cutlet in front of my eyes in like 10 mins..i ll kill anyone for it!!!!!

2:02 am

 

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