Pics Courtesy: Prakash Kamath Kanthavar
After the road widening in Car Street, Balli’s old set up had been demolished and a new structure has come up. Balli is as usual doing roaring business there. However, I still reminisce over the memories of his old joint when I visited him in the year 2008 to write an article on him for a Mangalorean website. Here are some excerpts and pics related to that article I wrote on Balli.
|Balli's Old Joint in Car Street|
Eating has never remained the same for Mangaloreans. Many fast food eateries have been catering to the needs of busy working class people mostly and a few foodies who demand quality and quantity at affordable prices. Gone are the days when people used to prefer to sit lazily in a restaurant waiting for supposedly hot podis which sometimes turn out to be colder than ice!
Since mid Seventies, there were a handful of Podi joints as I remember. I was a regular at one shop near New Chithra Talkies, one near Mannagudda Gurji and one near Roopavani Talkies. Then the variety of podis and the quantity they used to make was limited.
Around mid Eighties, a shop in Car Street near Gokarn Mutt was opened by a young aspirant, who has tickled the taste buds of thousands of Mangaloreans with his clean, hygienic and tasty podis(Fritters).
Today, this shop is the most visited one in Mangalore for podis, and it has been featured in NDTV by veteran TV anchor Vinod Dua in their food show.
|Checking the Ambades|
|Balli with his boys|
|Doing brisk business|
The owner of this shop is popularly known as 'Balli', and Balli's Podi is a household name, popular not only in Mangalore but also the world over! Rajesh Baliga or Balli is talk of the town when it comes to Podi. His magic formula of crisp, crunchy and tongue tickling Biscuit Rottis are by far, the best one could get in Mangalore. Other specialities like Vegetable Samosa and Buns are loved not only by most of the Household people in and around Car Street but also by many who live at a far distance.
|Outer Cover for Biscuit Rotti|
|Stuffing for Biscuit Rotti|
|Biscuit Rottis ready for frying|
|Balli dropping Biscuit Rottis in hot oil|
|Biscuit Rotti sizzling in hot oil|
|Biscuit Rotti almost ready|
|Biscuit Rotti ready|
|Mangalore Buns Batter balls|
|Hot Mangalore Buns|
Balli is unique in making these savory crispies for the simple reason that none of the items carry garlic or onion in them, making them widely acceptable, at the same time not giving scope for loss in taste by not adding those ingredients. Many Temple priests who are restricted from eating garlic and onion visit here and they confidently eat these podis. I have been a regular at Balli's shop since he opened business.
Balli with his 6 boys have worked as one team sharing the chores equally among themselves, never wasting a moment and maintaining the same standard over the years. They don't have holidays except on Sundays and a few religious festivals like Car Street Rathotsav, Ganesh Chaturthi and Sharada Mahotsav.
|Making Batate Ambade stuffing|
|Batate Ambade stuffing|
|Vegetable Bonda stuffing|
|Bondas being dropped in hot oil|
|Bondas frying in hot oil|
|Bonda and Batate Ambade|
Vegetable Samosa, Cabbage Ambade, Chattambade, Vegetable Bonda and Batata Ambade are prepared between 2.30P.M. and 4.30P.M. Biscuit Rottis, Samosas and Buns sell like hot cakes and you are lucky if you could get them after 4.30P.M. Biscuit Ambades are available between 2.30P.M. and 5.30P.M. From 5.30P.M. to 7.00P.M., different varieties of podis are available.
Other podi items include Cauliflower, Gulla, Potato, Sweet Potato, Raw Plantain, Jeev Gujje and Bhendi. Some of the items are seasonal or subject to availability of raw materials. Special Thojank(Thaikilo) Ambade is available in the rainy season. Clean vegetables and pure spices, flours and condiments are used to make the podis here. Oil is changed frequently and two separate deep frying pans are used to make podis. "This is to ensure that the strong smell of cabbage and like ambades don't get infiltrated into other delicacies" explains Balli.
|Having a taste of it!|
|Uff... uff....! It's hot!|
|Perfectly crafted Batate Ambade|
|Mixing Chopped Thojank with masalas for Ambade|
|Balli frying Thojank Ambade|
|Shredded Cabbage for Ambade|
|Cabbage Ambade sizzling in oil|
Most of the customers here are middle class working people mostly in Government services, Banks, Insurance Companies and those working for private firms. Many Gujaratis are regulars here, especially to taste Biscuit Rottis and Samosas. Business class people from Bunder and Car Street area are seen almost daily after they close down their shops and return home.
"It is the grace of Lord Venkatramana and the hard work of my boys, that I have been able to run this business since last 15 years without much difficulty and absolutely no complaints from customers!" - Balli feels proud and contented as he says thus.
Certainly, the face of fast food business has changed over the years in Mangalore. Yet, there are not many Ballis around, at least in the last 15 years!