Thotada Mane: A Food Stop You Must Make In Srirangapatna

The weather in Bangalore right now is just perfect for a drive. Let me suggest to you a lovely place to consider for a drive from Bangalore – Thotada Mane in Srirangapatna. Located a little over 100 km away from the city, this is an ideal spot for a weekend getaway, especially so if you are a foodie and nature buff. Our family made a pit-stop at Thotada Mane on a recent trip to Mysore, and ended up thoroughly enjoying ourselves.

The entrance to Thotada Mane

Just how charming is that?!

A rustic eatery set up in the midst of fields in Srirangapatna, Thotada Mane is the brainchild of Guru Dutt Bharadwaj, an ex-IT man. I had the pleasure of meeting him during our sojourn to Thotada Mane, and of learning about the birth of the establishment. Owning a home in the midst of farm land was always a dream of Guru Dutt’s parents, and Thotada Mane is the manifestation of this dream. Guru Dutt and his wife live in a charming little house adjacent to the eatery and personally oversee the cooking. Most of the food served at Thotada Mane is prepared using recipes from Guru Dutt’s own family.

The pretty dining area at Thotada Mane

The wishing well on the premises!

Thotada Mane has the sort of ambience that relaxes you the minute you set foot in. The greenery all around, the gravel that scrunches under your feet as you walk in, the red oxide flooring of Guru Dutt’s house, the low wooden tables and chairs set up all around, the quirky paraphernalia on display, the gurgling of the little fountain that runs in the midst of the dining area, the cute bridge and wishing well on the premises – everything plays a part. I was charmed by the place, and I’m sure you will be too.

Cutesy!

The gurgling water kept us company as we partook of our lunch

Thotada Mane serves reasonably priced all-vegetarian fare for breakfast and lunch, from Tuesday to Sunday. They also serve tea, coffee, select beverages and tea-time snacks. I loved that the menu here is quite extensive – a mix of traditional Karnataka food and fusion dishes to please all kinds of palates. The home-style food that Thotada Mane serves, sans artificial flavouring or colouring agents and preservatives – has definitely struck a chord with patrons. The eatery, about 4 years old now, sees a steady stream of visitors by word of mouth only. Thotada Mane does not feature in advertisements of any sort – it doesn’t even have a signboard on the highway to direct tourists! We had heard about this place through some foodie friends, and used Google Maps to locate it – something I would recommend you to do, too, in case you plan on visiting.

One of the many trees on the Thotada Mane premises

Rustic wooden seating at Thotada Mane

My dad opted for a Roti Meal, which turned out to be a delicious Karnataka-style thali complete with roti, 2 types of veggies, saaru (rasam), sambar, papad, anna (rice), curd, Maddur vade and obattu (poli). The obattu, especially, was finger-lickingly good!

Roti Meal at Thotada Mane

The husband, mom and I wanted to try out various things from the menu, so we chose a mix of traditional and ‘jazzed-up’ dishes. We ordered a Cheesy Spicy Sweet Masala Papad first, which was just brilliant. The home-made peanut powder it was dusted it was an awesome, awesome thing. This was the star of the meal, for me, I would say.

Cheesy Spicy Sweet Masala Papad

Next up, we opted for Cutlet Pizza and Corn Boats, two of their appetisers. These were decent, not bad but nothing to write home about either. I loved the simple, homely style in which these two dishes had been prepared, but they could definitely have been more flavourful.

Left: Corn Boats, Right: Cutlet Pizza

We ended our meal with Curry Leaves Bath and Curd Rice, both of which were lovely. The curry leaves podi (powder) used in the former was super fresh and bursting with flavour, just the right amount of spicy. The Curd Rice was just perfect, too – simple as the dish is, achieving that is quite a feat, trust me!

Left: Curry Leaves Bath, Right: Curd Rice

The staff at Thotada Mane, including Guru Dutt, is known for their warm hospitality and friendly interaction with their customers. We had the same warm experience too, here. We even managed to get a sneak peek into Guru Dutt’s beautiful, beautiful home on the premises. He was kind enough to bring out his pet turtle (yes, you read that right!) for the bub to play with. 🙂

Part of Guru Dutt’s lovely home

Ain’t it pretty?!

I loved the abundant use of natural material in the eatery and the upcycling of waste products. The see-saw with bicycle handlebars became a fast favourite with the bub, and all of us admired the washbasin designed out of a car tyre.

The car-tyre washbasin

That see-saw!

There are two toilets at Thotada Mane, for public convenience. We found them quite neat and clean.

The toilets

I am already thinking about a second trip to this place, to get hold of more of the interesting dishes on the menu! I hear their Akki Rotti (rice flour roti) and Ragi Rotti (finger millet roti) are bomb, and I definitely wouldn’t mind driving down to Srirangapatna just for those. All of us need a detox from time to time – the sort of detox where we sit peacefully and eat good food – and Thotada Mane is just the right place for that.

Table decor!

Do check out this place! I hope you’ll fall in love with it the way we did, too.

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I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #289.

Fada Lapsi| Broken Wheat Pongal

Broken wheat (dalia) is commonly used in making savoury khichdi. However, did you know that it can also be used in the preparation of a delicious sweet dish? I’m talking about Fada Lapsi, a beautiful dessert hailing from the state of Gujarat, made with broken wheat (‘ghaun na fada‘ in local parlance) and jaggery.

Fada Lapsi is a traditional dish, considered to be highly auspicious in Gujarat. It is typically prepared to celebrate engagements, weddings and similar occasions, as well as festivals like Raksha Bandhan, Diwali and Janmashtami. I present the recipe for Fada Lapsi today, for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for the blog hop this week is #MeetheBandhan, wherein all of us are showcasing Raksha Bandhan-special dishes. When Archana of The Mad Scientist’s Kitchen suggested this theme, Fada Lapsi was the first thing that came to my mind – and here we are!

Different families have different ways of making Fada Lapsi, with the basic ingredients remaining more or less the same. I make it the way a Gujarati friend of mine taught me, years ago – making a jaggery syrup first, adding cooked broken wheat to it, and then cooking everything together again. This isn’t unlike the making of the Tamilnadu Sakkarai Pongal and, hence, it wouldn’t be wrong to call this Broken Wheat Pongal too.

The use of broken wheat (as opposed to rice or semolina) and jaggery renders this a relatively healthy dessert. I use a limited amount of ghee too, just enough to make the lapsi fragrant and inviting. The milk and dry fruits going in make sure the Fada Lapsi tastes rich and delectable. The broken wheat gives the dessert an interesting texture, too. What’s more, it’s an easy-peasy recipe that doesn’t need much expertise or effort. You have got to try this out!

Let’s now check out the recipe for Fada Lapsi or Broken Wheat Pongal. I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #288. The co-host this week is Antonia @ Zoale.com.

Ingredients (serves 5-6):

  1. 1 cup broken wheat aka dalia
  2. 1 cup full-fat milk
  3. 2-1/2 cups + 2 cups of water
  4. 2 cups jaggery
  5. 2 tablespoons ghee
  6. 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
  7. 10 cashewnuts
  8. 10 almonds
  9. 1 tablespoon raisins

Method:

  1. Wash the broken wheat thoroughly under running water, a couple of times. Drain out all the excess water.
  2. Take the washed and drained broken wheat in a wide vessel, and add 2-1/2 cups of water and 1 cup of milk to it. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for 4 whistles or till the broken wheat is well cooked. Let the pressure release naturally.
  3. Meanwhile, take the jaggery powder in another pan, and add in 2 cups of water. Place on high heat. Allow the jaggery to melt entirely in the water. Switch off the gas when the jaggery syrup comes to a boil. Do not bring the syrup to a string consistency – just allow it to come to a boil and then switch off the flame.
  4. When the pressure in the cooker has entirely gone down, place the pan with the jaggery syrup on medium flame. Remove the cooked broken wheat from the cooker, and add it to the jaggery syrup. Cook on medium flame till the mixture thickens, 3-4 minutes. Stir intermittently, to avoid sticking to the bottom of the pan. Switch off gas when the Fada Lapsi is still quite runny – it thickens considerably on cooling.
  5. Chop the cashewnuts and almonds roughly. Keep aside.
  6. Heat the ghee in a small pan. Add in the raisins, cashewnuts and almonds. Wait till the raisins plump up and the cashewnuts and almonds brown slightly. Take care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn. Once done, pour the ghee with the raisins, cashewnuts and almonds onto the cooked Fada Lapsi. Add in the cardamom powder too. Mix well.
  7. Serve the Fada Lapsi piping hot, warm, at room temperature or chilled, as per personal taste preferences.

Did you like this dish? Do tell me, in your comments!

Chilli Tofu

The weather in Bangalore has taken a sharp turn, lately. It’s been raining off and on. It’s dark and overcast most part of the day, and quite chilly. Nights are cold. Brrr. This warrants for delicious, hot food, in our books! That’s how I ended up making Chilli Tofu and Vegetable Fried Rice for lunch, one recent weekend, an indulgence that we thoroughly cherished.

This Chilli Tofu is my kind of indulgent food. It is spicy and tangy and sweet, super flavourful and delicious. It’s so easy to make, it takes just about 10-12 minutes in all.

I would like to say that I have tried to make little substitutions here and there, to make the Chilli Tofu as healthy as I could. I have used some ingredients here – packaged sauces, cornflour and maida, for instance – which aren’t great for health. That said, I have used them in limited quantities. I have also cut down on the frying – and consequently the amount of oil – that are integral parts of this dish in most restaurants. I have used good-quality sauces and 100% natural tofu. I love that about home-made junk food – you can control the amount of ‘junk’ that goes into it, and try to make it a wee bit healthier. 🙂 And, hey, that’s perfectly okay once in a while, if you are eating healthy most of the time.

This is an entirely vegan recipe, completely plant-based. It isn’t completely gluten-free though, because of the use of maida, which is basically refined wheat flour. You can easily substitute the maida used here with corn flour, though, rendering the Chilli Tofu fully gluten-free.

Let’s now see how I made the Chilli Tofu. I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #288. The co-host this week is Antonia @ Zoale.com.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 200 grams firm tofu
  2. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  3. 5-6 garlic cloves
  4. 1 medium-sized onion
  5. 1 medium-sized carrot
  6. 1 small capsicum
  7. 1 teaspoon maida
  8. 1 teaspoon corn flour
  9. 1-1/2 to 2 cups of water
  10. Salt to taste
  11. 1 teaspoon jaggery powder or sugar
  12. 1/2 tablespoon + 1/2 tablespoon + 1/2 tablespoon of oil
  13. 1 tablespoon soya sauce or to taste
  14. 1 tablespoon tomato sauce or to taste
  15. 1 tablespoon red chilli sauce or to taste
  16. 1 tablespoon green chilli sauce or to taste
  17. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

1. Cut the tofu into cubes, as big as you would like them to be. Keep aside.

2. Peel the ginger and chop roughly. Peel the garlic cloves. Grind the ginger and garlic together to a paste, in a small mixer. Keep aside.

3. Now, we will prepare the vegetables required to make this dish. Peel the carrot and chop into batons. Chop the onion length-wise. Cut the capsicum into large-ish pieces. Keep aside.

4. Take the corn flour and maida in a small cup. Add about 1/4 cup water and make a lump-free slurry. Keep aside.

5. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a large pan. Add in half of the tofu cubes, without overcrowding the pan. Fry the tofu till till the cubes get a little crisp and brown on the outside. Transfer to a plate and keep aside. Again add 1/2 tablespoon oil to the pan, heat it, and fry the rest of the tofu cubes.

6. Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil to the pan. Now, add the chopped onion, carrot and capsicum to the pan, along with salt to taste and the ginger-garlic paste. Cook on high flame till the veggies are cooked, but still retain a bit of a crunch.

7. Add the cornflour and maida slurry to the pan, along with about 1-1/2 cups of water. Add in the jaggery powder. Mix well. Cook on medium flame till the gravy thickens up, about 2 minutes.

8. Add more water if needed. Add in the fried tofu cubes, soya sauce, tomato sauce, red chilli sauce and green chilli sauce. Mix well. Cook for a minute more, adjusting seasonings as required. Switch off gas when the mixture is thick but still quite runny. It thickens further upon cooling.

9. Serve hot, garnished with finely chopped fresh coriander.

Notes:

1. I have used Vegetable Tofu from Murginns, to make this dish. It came with bits of carrot, ginger and green chilli in it, and was just perfect for the saucy gravy. You can use plain tofu instead too, but I would highly recommend the Murginns Vegetable Tofu. I picked it up from Namdhari’s Fresh.

2. Use firm tofu (rather than silken tofu) for best results.

3. You can skip frying the tofu and add it in directly, at the end. However, the frying does impart a lovely taste to the dish.

4. Adjust the quantity of sauces you use, as per personal taste preferences.

5. Be careful with the amount of salt you add in, because the sauces will have salt in them too.

6. Cottage cheese aka paneer can be used in place of the tofu. You can fry the paneer the same way you did the tofu, or add them at the very end, as is, without frying.

7. You can use vegetables of your choice in this dish. I have used whatever was available in my refrigerator at the time of making.

8. Make sure you don’t overcook the veggies. They should still retain their crunch.

9. You may skip the jaggery powder or sugar. I felt it was a necessary addition.

10. I have simply pan-fried the tofu here. You can coat the tofu pieces with cornflour, and deep-fry them too. This will make the tofu even crisper.

11. You can use either cornflour or maida in the slurry, to thicken the Chilli Tofu. I have used a mix of both here.

12. The Chilli Tofu gets thicker as it cools. Do account for this fact, while preparing it.

13. I have used Heinz tomato ketchup (free of preservatives and artificial additives, as per the label), green chilli sauce from Ching’s Kitchen, red chilli sauce from Thai Heritage, and a naturally fermented soya sauce called Shoyu that I picked up on our Thailand holiday.

14. I served this Chilli Tofu with home-made Vegetable Fried Rice. You can also serve it with parathas.

Did you like this recipe? Do try it out, and let me know how you liked it!

Pudina Pulav| Mint Vegetable Rice

I love the freshness that mint (‘pudina‘ in local parlance) adds to a dish. The addition of the green leaves, sort of, seems to bring food to life, both in terms of fragrance and flavour. I’m fond of adding fresh mint leaves to quite a few things, but my most favourite thing to use them in is Pudina Pulav or Mint Vegetable Rice. I’m here today with a family recipe for this rice dish!

I learnt how to make Mint Vegetable Rice from my sister-in-law when I was a newlywed. This is a pulav with a South Indian bent, quite popular in restaurants and homes in this part of the country. It has always been a favourite in the husband’s family, and remains so till date. No wonder why, considering it is such an easy-peasy one-pot recipe, yet manages to be a flavour bomb. It can be made using very little oil, too. Pudina Pulav is comfort food for the husband, and is often the dish I cook on lazy days when I don’t want to put in too much of an effort.

We usually make this rice dish in a pressure cooker, with whatever vegetables are available. You can make it in a pan minus the veggies too. It will still be just as delicious, just as beautiful. Pair it with some curd or raita, and a hearty meal is ready.

In itself, the Pudina Pulav is a completely plant-based, vegan food. It is entirely gluten-free too.

Swaty of Food Trails suggested #Herbalicious as the theme for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop this week, wherein we are required to share recipes using various herbs. This gave me just the perfect foil to share this favourite recipe from our family’s cookbooks.

Let’s now check out the recipe for Pudina Pulav. I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #287, the co-hosts this week being Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Rita @ Parsi Cuisine.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 1 cup rice
  2. 1 medium-sized carrot
  3. 1 medium-sized onion
  4. 5-6 beans
  5. 1/4 cup green peas
  6. 1 medium-sized potato
  7. Salt to taste
  8. Red chilli powder to taste (optional)
  9. 1/2 tablespoon oil
  10. 2-3 green cardamom
  11. 2-3 cloves
  12. A 1-inch piece of cinnamon
  13. 2 small bay leaves
  14. 2-3/4 cups water

To grind into a paste:

  1. 2 green chillies
  2. 2 tablespoons fresh grated coconut
  3. A handful of fresh coriander leaves
  4. A handful of fresh mint leaves
  5. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  6. 5-6 cloves of garlic
  7. A small onion

Method:

1. First, we will grind the paste required to make this pulav. Chop up the mint and coriander leaves roughly and take them in a mixer jar. Peel the ginger and onion, chop roughly and add to the mixer jar too. Add in the grated coconut. Chop up the green chillies, peel the garlic cloves, and add these in too. Grind everything to a smooth paste with a little water. Keep aside.

2. Now, we will chop the veggies required for the pulav. Remove strings from the beans and chop into large pieces. Peel the potato and carrot, and chop into large pieces. Slice the onion length-wise. Keep aside.

3. Wash the rice under running water a couple of times. Drain out all the water. Keep aside.

4. Take the oil in a pressure cooker base and keep it on high heat. When the oil gets hot, add the cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and bay leaves to the cooker. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

5. Now, add in all the veggies we prepared earlier. Add in the green peas too. Saute for a minute.

6. Add in the washed and drained rice, as well as the paste we ground earlier. Saute for a minute.

7. Add in 2.5 cups of water, plus salt to taste. Add a dash of red chilli powder if the heat from the green chillies is not enough. Mix well.

8. Close the pressure cooker and put the weight on. Pressure cook for 3 whistles on high flame. Let the pressure release naturally.

9. Once the pressure has fully gone down, serve the Mint Vegetable Rice hot with raita of your choice.

Notes:

1. You may add a little garam masala and/or lemon juice to the pulav too. I don’t, usually.

2. Ghee can be used in making the pulav, in place of the oil.

3. Adjust the quantity of water you use, depending upon the kind of rice you use. I have used Sona Masoori rice here.

4. I have used a 5-litre pressure cooker to make this Pudina Pulav.

5. Cashewnuts can be added to the Mint Vegetable Rice too, especially if you are making it for a special occasion. I usually don’t.

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Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!