Wellness nerds, we’re not trying to out-preach you. You must admit, however, that there’s something puzzling about Bangalore lifestyle stores advocating that we reduce the carbon footprint of our food, when their top-selling product is still quinoa.
But in an old dubious looking complex on Brigade Road, a store isn’t just doing what they say, but serving it hot on a plate. Kaulige Foods in St. Patrick’s complex is Bangalore’s only “Millet Experience Centre,” a tiny store that conducts cooking workshops and runs a small kitchen serving millet-based set meals every day of the week.
The curd is mixed in with foxtail accompanied by onion pakodas, and it works, making it an easy, crunchy finish
They must be listening to the Karnataka government, which hopes we’ll adopt the state agriculture department’s mascots Millet Maga (son) and Millet Magalu (daughter) who made their debut at the Let’s Millet Mela at Palace Grounds earlier this month. The crop they represent is adaptable to arid conditions, and a solution for water-starved Karnataka that everyone, from farmers with irrigation anxiety, to himbos who only drink Gatorade, are now counting on.
Thalis, this way
At Kaulige, you are greeted by pictures of farmers from various parts of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, holding up their produce with pride. The wall illustrations also introduce us to Earth 360, who raises crops while his partner on Brigade Road, Arun Kaulige, raises consciousness. “Initially we were just selling Earth 360’s products here, but we realised that very few people are actually aware of its benefits,” Arun says. “We opened this kitchen to give people easy access to millets.”
Despite the large portions, this thali is a light and satisfying meal.
Our colourful thali begins the acquaintance with jowar roti and drumstick baslesaru: the thin slightly dry roti isn’t easy to eat, but the tamarind-infused curry makes up for it. Soupy ‘Barnyard Bisi Bele Bath’ with vegetables is the real surprise of the meal. It’s hard to imagine a bath, which is traditionally a rice dish, without rice, but this one manages it beautifully.
The end of every South Indian thali must feature curd rice, too: but here however, the curd is mixed in with foxtail accompanied by onion pakodas, and it works, making it an easy, crunchy finish. For dessert Arun fixes us a ‘little millet’ payasam infused with jaggery and cardamom. While the spice adds a mild fragrance to the dish, the sweetness of the jaggery suffocates the little millet.
Despite the large portions, this thali is a light and satisfying meal. As we head out Arun hands us a little flyer with the recipes of the dishes we’ve eaten, “simple and easy to put together,” we’re assured. Over weekend workshops, he’ll teach new millet maniacs how to make dosas and pulao with his favourite grains. We’re not sure we’re ready to give up a benne khali just yet, but the packet of mixed millet khichdi we take away might help push us closer to this crop circle.
Getting there: No. 8 & 9, 1st floor, St. Patrick’s Complex, Brigade Road, call 08041649279. A thali meals costs Rs 100 and is available for lunch. Log on to https://kaulige.com/ for more details on workshops, recipes and products. See the Facebook page for more updates.
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