Fill-up at the Idli House

pics from Idli House Mumbai by Arun Shanbhag

Mumbai was recently blessed with a eatery dedicated to idlis: those delicately steamed rice cakes. South Indians start their day with idli, dunked in sambar or a liberal side of coconut chutney. At home, I enjoy piping hot Idli Sambar for brunch, or to accompany the afternoon chah or kaapi. Leftover idlis make golden crisp Idli fry, or crumbled and tossed with a medley of spices. On family trips you have all initially groaned, when aunts unpack idlis and chutney – the ultimate travel food. By the end you are licking chutney of fingers, while fellow travelers stare with envy.

It was only a matter of time that we, little m included, finally made it to Idli House in King Circle, Matunga. It’s a tiny place and crowded. Many stand and eat. The laser focus on idlis keeps the service quick and very inexpensive, making it the poor man’s meal. On any given day they serve about 8-10 types of idlis.
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Chai Time Two

photo of Chai Time at Ramnath Devasthan Goa by Arun Shanbhag

After Dhool Bhaet at the Shanteri Kamakshi Ramnath Devasthan, I walked around heavenly rice fields and stopped by the canteen outside the temple for a cup of Chai. Next to me, this gentleman savored his morning cup. He poured it in the saucer, lifted the saucer to his lips and slurped. Continue reading “Chai Time Two”

Kaapi: Way Coffee Should be Enjoyed

How to make south indian coffee kaapi by Arun Shanbhag
Running Update: To keep up with my training for the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC I had to run 13 miles through partial rain and dodging puddles the entire way. Running with squishy shoes for a couple of hours is not fun! I made it around in horrible time and sore hamstrings.

This year its the hamstrings and lung capacity which have been slowing me. Appears my lungs have NOT fully recovered from the bronchitis I got earlier in the Spring and kept me from the Boston Marathon. For the first four miles, I find myself gasping and unable to pick my pace. My doctor is not surprised and mentions that after bronchitis, lungs need 6-8 months to recover vital capacity. While I don’t notice a deficit in most activities, running long distances needs my entire lung capacity, which is still compromised. But I plod on! Have no hopes for breaking 4 hours, but it would be good to FINISH a marathon this year!
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Shanbhag Fastfood

During one of our trips through Karnataka, we visited Hampi to see the ancient city of Vijayanagar. What a fascinating city! Under a UNESCO mandate, extensive restorations are ongoing. The temples are awe inspiring! But for M, the best part of the trip was our stay in the nearby town of Hospet. A busy, dusty town at the crossroads of the Manganese ore trade. Here we made camp at the “Shanbhag International.” There was nothing international about this place. Even by Indian standards, it was an average “Hotel,” but importantly it had a few air-conditioned rooms. Continue reading “Shanbhag Fastfood”

Almond Pista Milk


Last year on my return from the Kailash Manasarovar yatra, I had a severe case of acid reflux which was affecting my throat and vocal chords. Apparently, eating foods cooked in an unknown quality of oils and lying in sleeping bags (without pillow) can cause this. Of course, my intense running also brings up stomach acid and aggravates it. In addition to medications and other dietary changes, my doctor recommended that I stop drinking coffee! I could not imagine starting my day without a double shot of espresso. But I loved running more. So for several months I drank green tea in the mornings (and yawned at my desk). I came upon Masala Milk Mix in the grocery store and loved its refreshing taste. My mother noted that it was easy to make the powder at home and that got me started on grinding my own Badam Pista Milk Mix.

Now, I start my day with a warm cup of Badam Pista Dudh. I still drink about half a cup of coffee after lunch. My acidity problems have been essentially resolved and I feel great.

Easy to make.
Continue reading “Almond Pista Milk”

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