The Puri Saga 10/11/2010

Generally feature  writers   believe that there is no   topic under the Sun which has not been written about,  only the  angle  he/she  approaches the topic differs. Nevertheless  they  do have their  favourites, be they people, places or  dishes and  according to me  the last comes first as I believe we live to eat  and not the other way round. I am sure  there are many like me who  are fond  of  the moon  shaped, deep fried in oil  wheat preparation  the puri which constitutes an important  item on the menu, whether in restaurants, parties  or get togethers.

My earliest memory of eating puris  was at the age of four or five  and I still fondly  remember  the way my mother used to make them  which were the favourite  of  us children. She would take a small portion of the dough, roll it out into a five inch diameter, press it hard with a stainless steal  lid which had a knob , remove the extra dough surrounding it and then fry it in steaming oil. With the result all puris  looked symmetrical  and she would serve the puffed puris nice and hot along with potato curry. She had a knack of  draining all the oil from them even as they were being removed from the  fry pan (kitchen paper was not known at that time).

Now after  the passing of several decades  and  probably  eating  countless number of puris  which  fulfilled  all the requirements to qualify   for an ISO certificate,  I was quite taken aback  at the deterioration in quality my favourite  puri   has undergone lately. I am referring  to a hotel in Bangalore called Woodys  which served puris  in the meal  our friends had  ordered.  The twins were half  brown, undone at the edges and were dripping with oil. When  they  pointed this to the bearer, it appeared he only stared at them for  full two minutes  and  left without a word. (They  expected he would replace them with better ones )The  second experience, a first hand one  at a star hotel  on  RK salai   back home was still worse. The puris were not only  a quarter  of an inch thick  but were  dark brown  and over fried, unfit to eat. Infact  the other items were also a good match to this poor puri. I could only  sympathise with our hosts who  too probably didn’t expect the deterioration in standard of this standard hotel.

Now I decided  to give my favourite puri a break!


n.meera raghavendra rao



3 thoughts on “The Puri Saga 10/11/2010

  1. Prof. V.N.K.Kumar.

    ” We live to eat and not the other way round”.

    I totally agree. Only Mahatma Gandhis could eat to live. Even that Gandhi did sparingly and grudgingly since he used to fast 30 to 40 days at a time. Unthinkable for mortals like us. Eating is one of those few pleasures we can indulge in without harming others.

    We normally like the food which our mothers used to make in our childhood. So can’t blame yourself for this obsession. My mother too was very good in making mouth-watering whole wheat puris and potato-pea curry, often for our breakfast.

    But there is a big hitch in this. Mothers not only did the cooking correctly,technically speaking, but used to imperceptably pour their love and affection into the dish which made it tastier. We can’t expect that from the chefs of restaurants.

    In the teething phases of a hotel, a lot of attention is given to the quality & taste of the dishes. As the hotel becomes popular and starts attracting customers, the chefs demand more salary and perks. The owners feel that the hotel now is well known and the chefs are no longer that indispensable. The chefs go for greener pastures, the hotel recruits substitutes, the quality of foods served drops but the customers keep coming in because of the reputation.

    In Bangalore, MTR (near Lalbagh), Janardhana hotel (near Race course) and Vidyarthi Bhavan in Gandhi Bazaar have maintained their quality so far but not many others.

    The quarter inch puris that you mention reminds me of the stuff given on the Railway trains. We the senior citizens need a good set of teeth to tear into it and munch the stuff !

  2. Professor V.Raghavan

    Last week on Deepavali day, with my cook on leave, I went to my favourite restaurant on R K Salai. This time, I did not order my usual thali, which they serve with Obbattu (Mangalore Poli) on holidays. I opted for a plate of Puris, which I had not eaten for a long time. The puris were excellent (light brown and lens-shaped), but the potato dish tasted as if made from left overs!

    1. Your experience reminds me of our visit to this hotel some years ago when My husband ordered naan and navaratna kurma which arrived cold with hardly any fruits in the liberally used white
      sauce.When we complained it was quietly replaced with a better version of it.The two neighbouring hotels on RKSalai seem to be competing with each other in serving substandard fare at a hiked up price.
      Mathura on mount road seems to be one of the few hotels which cares for its quality and also takes care of its customers.

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