Thursday, April 19, 2007

Have some more!

Warning: A rambling foodie post. Don't read it on an empty stomach and then sue me! :)

A lot of people mentioned "force-feeding" in the comments on my previous post. This is carried out very frequently in the name of "Upachaara". Upachaara in Kannada, means hospitable treatment. Probable equivalent is "Mehmaan ki Khaatirdaari". Making sure that the guest is comfortable and eats his fill and makes himself at home without any "Sankocha" (Hesitation arising from shyness).

[Since there are no English equivalents for Upachaara, Sankocha, etc., I will use these words in the rest of this post.]

The mark of a good host has traditionally been how nice he is to the guests - in other words, how well he does Upachaara. And what is the highlight of this Upachaara? Force-feeding.

I am sure that you have all been subject to this force-feeding at some point or the other. Some people do have a lot of Sankocha, and it is for these people that Upachaara might be necessary.

But nowadays I have seen that hardly anybody is really shy when invited to dinner. People eat their fill, and comfortably. [Or am I speaking for myself?]. I, for one, do not need any kind of Upachaara. If they have asked me to dinner, they had better have enough food for me - for I will eat as much as I want to. And conversely, if I am playing host, I assume that my guests are eating enough. Sometimes this can backfire. My guests might have a lot of Sankocha, and I end up saying, "Will you have another Chapati? No? Ok!" And then the guest might think, "Oh no, what a bad host, she has no idea how to do Upachaara!", and he goes home hungry.

So, my rule of thumb is, if a person does Upachaara, then he needs Upachaara.

I am sure you all have horror stories of being force-fed until you were ready to puke. My first such experience was at a classmate's house, where he had invited us for a birthday lunch. The food was delicious, but there were so many courses that I lost count. And it was the worst kind of situation - where all the food was not placed on the table, but was brought out course after course. So I ended up eating 8 puris with chhole, three large helpings of pulao with raita, and two large helpings of curd-rice, in addition to the side-dishes and papads and sweets and curries. And no, I did not ask for so much food, I was force-fed it. Rather, the food was heaped on my plate when I was not looking, and I just had to finish it, as we are taught not to waste food. After I staggered away from the dining table and went to the living room, they brought out huge containers of thick, sweet delicious vermicelli payasa. I nearly fainted. I ate the payasa over two hours.

I learnt my lesson. When invited to lunch, I shamelessly ask the host, please tell me what you have made, and whether there is dessert, so that I can plan my meal. Doesn't work in formal settings, but in such cases I eat very little of everything, and keep my plate closely guarded so that nobody heaps unwanted food on my unsuspecting plate.

Ok, why did I start talking about Upachaara here? The same Upachaara which I dread when I go to people's houses, comes as such a lovely surprise in restaurants. Seriously, have you heard of a waiter doing Upachaara?

My friend M and her husband B were in India last month. S and I went out for dinner with them and their four-month old baby. They wished to eat some good South Indian food - and they zeroed in on North-karnataka cuisine. The Kamat restaurants in Bangalore dish up some really good cuisine of this kind, and so we went to Kamat Minerva at Minerva Circle.

The restaurant is named "Upachaar"(yes!), and we went to the North-Karnataka section, where the specialty is the "Jolada Rotti" meal [Rotis made of Jowar].

The waiters were very attentive, they went out of their way to make it comfortable for us, and they laid out a separate chair for the baby's car seat. Ok so far so good, all restaurants do this.

Then they served us these delicious, light, soft, Jolada rottis on a banana leaf, with some really yummy side-dishes. They kept watch over our leaves, and came right up with hot rottis just as we put the last bite of the previous rotti into our mouths. They were right there, unobtrusive, but ever watchful. I lost count of the number of rottis I ate. I ate and ate, and ate. When my friend M felt that she had enough, she refused the next rotti the waiter offered. He stood there in horror. "Madam, how can you say no? You get ordinary food everywhere. This kind of food is special - you have to come all the way here if you want to eat this food. Take one more, do take one more". "How can I say no if you put it that way", asked M, and ate another. I took the hint and went on eating.

Finally I realized that I just had to stop, and told the waiter so. He tried to persuade me, but I was firm. He disappeared and came back with hot steaming rice. "No! NO rice please" I said. He stood by me with a pained expression. "Our drumstick sambar is very popular, very famous. You just have to taste it. You cannot leave without tasting it, Madam! Just a little, you won't regret it, madam!"

I relented. True to his word, he served a little rice, and before I could protest, he drained a whole spoonful of hot, fragrant ghee on the rice, and then served the drumstick sambar. I have to give it to him, it was indeed from another world. I wished I could eat more, and I would have, given that the waiter was standing by me with a pleased and expectant expression, rice piled high on his serving spoon, but I just had to say no. I wouldn't have been able to stand up, had I eaten any more.

Funny. The same Upachaara that would have been frustrating and exasperating in a domestic setting was such a welcome change in a restaurant. A very homely and comfy feeling. The restaurant hardly has much to lose by that Upachaara - but look what it gained. Publicity! :)

[Btw, Upachaara is not equal to force-feeding. Force-feeding is one of the major aspects of Upachaara, that's all]

29 comments:

Poppins said...

Wow, where is this place.. The food and the experience sounds yum ! Would you be able to tell me where in Bangalore this is? As usual, the post was so well written !

Raj said...

I've been to many Kamat restaurants but not this one. I've seen it though. Its huge, right? Maybe I should try it sometime. Its probably one of the very few restaurants where you would experience such "upachaara". Waiters in most other restaurants want you to just eat and vanish asap! :)

Maverick said...

kool post shruthi, but i must admit there are more situations i liked upachara than i hated it :)

Shruthi said...

Poppins, thank you! Minerva Circle is the intersection of JC Road and Lalbagh Road. Go to mapmyindia.com, and enter "Minerva Circle, Bangalore" in the search field. The resulting map is quite clear. Kamat Minerva should be easy to find once you reach Minerva Circle. It is physically located on JC Road.

Raj, yeah, I hadn't been to this one before, either. Its good, do try it out!

Maverick, you are lucky indeed :) I cannot eat when someone is forcing me to eat!

Mysorean said...

I am writing this comment on an empty stomach. If a lawyer shows up tomorrow at your house with a show-cause notice, don't blame me!

That "joLada rotti" oota is my most favourite place to eat NK food! Those blocks of butter that he serves...yummy! slurp slurp!

Similar to that there is a Gujarati meal (unlimited) available at Sukh Sagar opposite that theater that always has telugu movies running! Once my elder cousin brother and I went to that hotel and decided to eat till we could. You won't believe this, we paid the bill and walked out of the hotel and sat down on the pavement unable to move any further because we had eaten so much!

Oh sorry upachaara bagge post nanu unlimited tinnodara bagge barediddene. Anyways, nammge naave upachaara madkobeku antha nanna prinicple. Yaaradru madidre inna olledu aste! :D

Mysorean said...

Btw, location of that hotel is Majestic.

And Viky, ayyo papa! LOL!

Madhat said...

So I ended up eating 8 puris with chhole, three large helpings of pulao with raita, and two large helpings of curd-rice, in addition to the side-dishes and papads and sweets and curries.

bakasura?

Altoid said...

Mysorean: Please server her a show cause notice on my behalf as well, I give you power of attorney privileges :).
I go to bangalore metblogs to find people posting sinful pictures of Brahmin's cafe and now this Shruti reminds me of NK oota.

Torture, really!

Anyway Shruti- it reminds me of my chikamma who will invite you home for a meal and hover right over your back and keep ladling heaps of food unasked for onto the plate. Granted the food is great but I also dont believe in wasting, so makes it so hard to let go and eventually I end up with a tummy ache. These days I request for a buffet setting so I can serve what I want, how much I need.

--altoid

Shyam said...

argh... i didnt heed your warning and now I'm hunnnngry!

LOL @ Madhat's comment! (Sorry, Shruthi!) :)

sangsta said...

Hahahaha I am COMPLETELY with you on the evils of "force feeding". One one end you have people that force feed you till you face turns purple, but I feel like these people EXPECT you to be shy. I don't UNDESTAND where the shyness comes from in the first place.

My grandmum is visiting with us from India, and she's been here for eight months now. The metamorphosis she's undergone in her "force feeding" is PHENOMENAL. At first, she could not comprehend the fact that I dont eat rice. She would try to sneak in a whole pile of rice when I was looking away (or for the few nanoseconds when I was sneezing). Because she thought I was shy. In my OWN house :) (how CUTE is that?). That being said, WE force feed HER. Because that's the way she IS. She won't EAT unless you force feed her haha.

The first instance of this was when I was making coffee for myself, and I asked her if she'd like some. And she said she didn't. So I assumed she didn't and went on to make myself coffee. Less than 15 minutes later, I see HER making coffee for herself, so I ask her why she didn't just TELL me she wanted coffee. And she said she didn't want to "trouble" me :) HAHA.

But now she's learning. To be less shy AND to force-feed less. Wait till she goes back to India...her guests will be starving :)

Anonymous said...

"ಆನ್‍ಗಳ್ಳಿ ಉಪಚಾರ" ಅಂತ ಒಂದಿದೆ. "ಆನ್‍ಗಳ್ಳಿ" ಒಂದು ಊರಿನ ಹೆಸ್ರು ಅಂತ ನೆನಪು.
ಒಂದೆರಡು ಉದಾಹರಣೆ:
"ಬಾಳೆಲೆ ಇದ್ದಿದ್ರೆ ಒಂದ್ ತುತ್ತ್ ಉಂಡ್ಕೊಂಡು ಹೋಗ್ಬೋದಿತ್ತು! ಛೆ! ಬಾಳೆಲೆನೇ ಇಲ್ಲ, ಇವತ್ತು ಮನೇಲಿ." => ಒಬ್ಬ ಈ ಬಗೆಯ ಉಪಚಾರದ ಮನೆಗೆ ಬಾಳೆಲೆ ಹಿಡ್ಕೊಂಡೇ ಹೋಗಿದ್ದನಂತೆ!
"ಬೇಗ ಊಟ ಮಾಡ್ಬಿಡೋಣ, ಅಲ್ವೇ! ನಿಮ್ಮೂರಿಗೆ ಇಲ್ಲಿಂದ ಲಾಸ್ಟ್ ಬಸ್ ಮಧ್ಯಾಹ್ನ ೩ ಗಂಟೆಗೆ ಇದೆ" => ರಾತ್ರೆನೂ ಇಲ್ಲೇ ಝಂಡಾ ಹಾಕಬೇಡ!
"ಸಾಕ್ ನಿಲ್ಸೆ, ಎರಡೆರಡು ಸಲ ಅನ್ನ ಹಾಕ್ಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳೋಕೆ ನಾನೆನು ಬಕಾಸುರನಾ? ಅತಿಥಿಗಳಿಗೆ ಇನ್ನೊಮ್ಮೆ ಹಾಕು!.. ನೀವು ಸಂಕೋಚ ಮಾಡ್ಕೊಬೇಡಿ, ಹಾಕ್ಸ್ಕಳಿ" => ಉಪಚಾರನೂ ಆಯ್ತು, ಉಳಿತಾಯನೂ ಆಯ್ತು.

ಇತೀ,
ಉಉನಾಶೆ

"aan^gaLLi upachaara" aMta oMdide. "aan^gaLLi" oMdu oorina hesru aMta nenapu.
oMderaDu udaaharaNe:
"baaLele iddidre oMd tutt uMDkoMDu hOgbOdittu! Ce! baaLelenE illa, ivattu manEli." => obba I bageya upachaarada manege baaLele hiDkoMDE hOgiddanaMte!
"bEga ooTa maaDbiDONa, alvE! nimmoorige illiMda laasT bas madhyaahna 3 gaMTege ide" => raatrenoo illE jhaMDaa haakabEDa!
"saak nilse, eraDeraDu sala anna haaksikoLLOke naanenu bakaasuranaa? atithigaLige innomme haaku!.. neevu saMkOcha maaDkobEDi, haakskaLi" => upachaaranoo aaytu, uLitaayanoo aaytu.

itee,
uunaashe

Nags said...

Nice post.

I made a mistake by not following your disclaimer at the begining of the post. I want to have 'Jolada Rotti' now, but cannot for the next 5 or 6 months.

"Athithi Devo Bhava" is the base for "Upachara". So, you call it force feeding or something else, it is going to be there for ever. And, as you see, many of the people who commented in fact like "Upachara". It's an integral part of our culture, soceity.

Supremus said...

Somebody! Please serve me Jollad Rotti and Badnikai Pallya!! Somebody Please!!! Hehehehe - why do u write such mouth watering posts! I must come to your house - khoob khatirdhaari karna phir :P

S

PS: Is this minerva same as that one in majestic? Yatri Nivas i think was its name - that also has great jollad rotti meals.

Shruthi said...

Mysorean, ha ha!! :) Ohhh so many people have told me about this Gujarati Thali at Sukh Sagar... never got a chance to go there. Mainly parking problems ;( And I totally understand that you couldn't move... laughing non-stop thinking of you sitting on the footpath :D

Madhat, heh heh :) Bakasuri, rather! I was just around 15 years old... very active, with a voracious appetite. If it had been now, I would have needed hospitalization ;)

Altoid, I warned you! :)) Your Chikkamma sounds so typical! And the tortorous part is that the food will usually be great... sometimes even against your wish, you say yes to the force-feeding, and then suffer! ;)

Shyam, hee hee ;)

Sangsta, exactly! Why would anybody feel shy? :D Your grandmom sounds so sweet... and so typical :D

Uunaashe, ROFL!! Really, Sakkath examples! Thanks for the wonderful laugh. AangaLLi upachaara - will remember that :)

Nags, oh, hope you get to eat it really soon! Yes, Upachaara is not entirely unwelcome - but sometimes, it is a matter of your health! :O

Supremus, you are welcome! But don't expect upachaara... you will be left to yourself to feel at home ;) No, Minerva is different from the Kamat Yatri Nivas at Majestic. Previously, Yatri Nivas was the only place that served Jolada Rotti Oota, now a lot more Kamats have sprung up in different parts of the city - more convenient :)

Vijay said...

I have always wanted to go here.. have been to the others (Yatri and Bugle Rock)...

Adi (Mysorean).. I remember this place.. was something we used to go to during the student days and eat as many phulkas as we could... I wonder if its still there? Anyway only one way to find out... go there..

Vani said...

Shruthi.....I am going to file an appeal with the court to restrain you from writing these food posts!

But seriously, yes, the Kamath Chain waiters are an exclusive lot....I visited Kamath Loka Ruchi in Janapada Loka near Ramanagaram last weekend and had the same experience! Only difference was that it was Dantina Soppu Sambar.... I am sure another of our friends who accompanied me on this trip will also echo the same sentiments....otherwise the entire post was what I have also experienced......

Srik said...

What a marketting for Kamath Upachar!!

On the light note, Shruthi, how much did they pay you to do this one? ;)

MP said...

I ditto vijay on this. I have been to the Lokaruchi one too. In fact all trips to and from Mysore are scheduled such that we reach the Ramanagar place on totally empty stomachs. So rather than depend on upachaara (who knows the waiter at your table might be having a bad day and is not in the upachaaring mood!) we depend on our extreme hunger to do away with our sankocha (if any)!

@vijay - as of 2 yrs back the sukh sagar place opp majestic theatre existed. That reminds me - time to pay another visit, banni hogona.

Bru said...

As a teenaged girl i was very timid and shy and I didn't know how to say firmly `I CAN'T EAT MORE' and I remember being overfed with lot of force in a relative's house and throwing up the whole thing when i went to wash my hands! Of course the hostess realized her mistake and I dont think she would ever have done upachara to anybody else in her life :). Now I know how to say NO and now I also know that the best way to diet is to do this simple exercise- to shake your head from left to right when somebody offers you something to eat ! ;) (i hope shruthi will learn this exercise sometime in her life)!

The German wife of our Indian friend, who visited her husband's numerous relatives in India asked me, `why are these people so fond of feeding the guests even when they are not hungry?!! why do they feel sad if we don't eat??!!'- the Indian `aathithya' concept which is very hard for the outsiders to understand! right?

Shruthi said...

Vijay, yes! I owe a visit too!

Vani, apologies! Will avoid these for a while at least! (Will try to ;)). I have always been to Lokaruchi during the early morning breakfast rush, so have never experienced Upachaara there!

Srik, how I wish, srik! I would become a professional restaurant reviewer! Wow.. dream profession ;)

MP, heh heh, correct. Hmm looks like Sukh Sagar is due on many of our lists.... let's go! ;)

Bru, ROFL!! Can't stop laughing thinking of poor you puking everything out! :) And can't imagine your host's plight either :))
Ok Ok I will learn and do that simple exercise.... but only after I have eaten my fill!
And poor German lady.. if we ourselves, used to this Upachaara, feel so frustrated and helpless, imagine her predicament! :))

Veena Shivanna said...

Sometimes, I see that people have tough time eating the stuff & they would struggling .. in such case, paapa ansatte, aaglilla andre parvaagilla bidi is one option I give them... but if some elders hears it at home, then I am sure to receive a lecture & wasting food etc.,! :-)
Shruthi will talk about food conservation like she did for water sometime in her earlier post.

Kamat Lokaruchi is a nice place, atleast the Mysoreans are more regular visitors... Do we have any kamat outlets in Mysore ? I haven't noticed any so just checking...

Usha said...

Your description of the hot rice and ghee and nugekai sambar had me salivating. I cant have peace now until I have had it.
But I miss one thing these days - the upachara in wedding meals. a few years ago, the parents of the boy and girl will come around for each round of meal and request you to please treat it like your own house and eat well and bless the couple. Now we stand in queue, give the present and follow the queue to the dining hall - eat a meal served without any interest and the path from dining hall leads to the exit.

Sachin said...

Shruthiji, one more of your yummy foodie posts!!! You sure know how to make people salivate - even non-vegetarians like me!!! I enjoy a good home cooked South Indian meal myself.

I think you only eat vegetarian right? Am planning a trip with S to Bangalore sometime this year....need to take a list of joints to eat at from you!! :) Great going!! Btw, if you ever come to Mumbai with your S, do visit a Gujju thali place called "Samrat" at Churchgate near Eros Cinema. I think you'll like it - I do!

chitra said...

Sluuuurrrrrrrrrrrrrrppppppppppppppppppppp !!!!

Anil P said...

However, it has its own charms I must say :)

Shruthi said...

Veena, yeah! Like Bru above says, she vomited out everything once! :) And btw, I don't think there are any Kamat outlets in Mysore.

Usha, hee hee!! You are so right! That warrants a post of its own :) In fact I sometimes finish dinner and then go to meet the couple. Very occasionally, I even skip meeting the couple, if the queue is too long! :D

Sachin, heh heh... yes I am a vegetarian. I can give you a good list of food joints in Blore - but they will all be veggie places! Oh no, why didn't anybody tell me about this Samrat place before? I have done quite a bit of loafing near Eros theatre!

Chitra, :D

Anil, no doubt about that at all! As long as it is all in moderation! :)

Sachin said...

Shruthi, next time you come to Mumbai, if ever you find the time to loaf around the Eros theatre, just ask where Samrat is, its hardly a 3-4 mins walk from there and believe me, its an experience.

Shall definitely take the list if places to eat at from you.

praneshachar said...

very good write up on upachara and beneficiary is Kamat jolada rotti oota. recently we had been to one NalaPak in Rajajinagar that serves only North karnataka cuisine it is great and they too serve with lot of committment. rush rush rush there you have to wait.
upachara madlikke hogi athithigalige apachara aguva hage madbardu ashte thumba ottaya avarige tondre agbahudu. adanna nodi waste agada hage tondre agada hage upachara madidre adannu mareyalu agalla
adaradinda madida athitya thumba hitakaravagirutte.

Taste of Mysore said...

Shruthiavare, This is my first visit to ur blog, got link from RWB. I love jolada rotti too and will definitely try it at the restaurant you have mentioned when i am in Bangalore next time. Well, despite having cereals and milk i am hungry :(. This reminds me of making jolada rotti at home for weekend.

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