Chef Arzooman Irani from
Vivanta by Taj — Whitefield, Bangalore, brings recipes
handed to him by an
Chin-Chin!” we say tinkling our glasses of chilled syrups. We shall not say: “Toodle-pip to you too!” since it’s lunchtime at the Vivanta by Taj — Connemara’s “Verandah” as we slip effortlessly into memsahib country as it happened a 100 years ago. Executive chef Arzooman Irani is our guide into the past as he leads us back into time when Whitefield, on the outskirts of Bengaluru, was actually a wooded enclave for white settlers. Mango orchards, fruit trees and flowers were grown here. The most popular watering hole was named Waverly Inn, according to his friends, the Middletons, an old Anglo-Indian couple, who had befriended him when he moved into present day Whitefield. “Lord Connemara, the then Governor of Madras (1890), visited the settlement,” we are informed. While the Waverly Inn also attracted the attentions of a young soldier stationed at Bangalore. His name was Winston Churchill. He did not have anything good to say of his time at Bangalore, but then, he never mentioned the young woman, Rose Hamilton, whom according to local gossip was the daughter of the innkeepers.
Of foogaths and kalkals
Chef Irani was luckier. Mrs Middleton presented him with a rare gift, her grandfather’s hand-written recipes. Harry “Mithai” Blake was passionate about his gardens and his food. It’s from his notes that chef Irani has re-created the best of Anglo-Indian food. We dip into the “mulligatawny” which is a pure delight. Living up to his name, Harry Mithai added grated apples from his garden to the spicy soup. It forms the perfect accompaniment to the “Earl of Raj” that we’ve been sipping, a pale iced tea infused with spices, with a tot of gin. The “foogaths” shredded cabbage, fried prawns basted with spices, the iconic Chicken Country Captain, Harry’s own fish curry (he used to get his fish from the lake nearby, no longer possible for his descendants alas), and the rice accompaniments take us back to the old Club foods. The desserts are the stars, milky puddings and kalkals — fried balls of dough dusted with sugar syrup. Harry “Mithai” Blake lives!
Chronicles of Whitefield at The Verandah, is on for one week, starting today, at `4,000 per couple. Details: 66000000
— Geeta Doctor