A little slip between the cup and the lip

I just love Bangalore during the monsoon. While the grey sky and damp, chilly weather could bring on a bout of SAD for many; I firmly believe that it is a time for sodden walks in Cubbon Park followed by chattering with friends over piping hot filter coffee and my favourite Maddur Vada, South India’s equivalent of the ubiquitous `chai and pakodas’ from the other side of the VindhyasBut while its very mention makes dyed in the wool Bangaloreans light up like bulbs, newcomers to the scene might need a little help to track down this hidden jewel.

The Maddur vada is served at most darshinis and South Indian restaurants in Bangalore through the day. But its `native’ is Maddur, a little town in Mandya district, located about 80 km from the city along the Bangalore-Mysore highway. The Vada has always played a starring role in all my childhood memories of trips to Mysore, with Maddur being an eagerly awaited stopover no matter whether we were travelling by train or road. Maddur is where we pulled over alongside the busy highway, stretched our legs and waited for the Vada to arrive so we could tuck in. It was where we flattened our noses on train window bars and played `who –can- spot- Maddur –station- first.’

The Maddur Vada

The Maddur Vada

But do remember that the Maddur Vada is not a pakoda, tikki, bonda, or a doughnut shaped rice Vada. It occupies a unique place all of its own. According to experts, its distinctive taste is because the Vada batter (rice flour, corn flour and semolina) is mixed with onion juice instead of water. Sliced onions, curry leaves, grated coconut and asafoetida are also tossed into the mixture. A little patty is made out of the dough.It is then deep fried to a golden brown crisp and served with coconut chutney. The filter coffee of course, is the yang to its yin.

An exciting past

While the earthy Vada claims no distinguished lineage, it does possess an exciting past tucked away in the kitchen cupboard. The story is dramatic – local pakoda vendor owns a canteen on the Maddur station platform where snacks are sold to passengers. One day, the train arrives early and he realises (too late), that there isn’t much time to assemble the round pakodas and fry them. He quickly presses the dough into flat patties, fries them in an instant, and hey presto, the Maddur Vada is born! The innovation finds favour with hungry customers and soon becomes a regular offering. The secret recipe is handed down through generations and a news feature tells me that it settled with Doddamane Nagaraju, the proprietor of the popular Maddur Tiffany’s on the highway. He says that his grandfather was none other than Madhavachar, the afore mentioned local vendor who created it in the early 1900’s! Nothing like a little pinch of history to add to its local flavour.

If you have time,  you’ll find there’s more to Maddur than meets the taste buds. Named after the local village deity, Maduramma,  the town plays neighbour to the Kokkre Bellur Bird Sanctuary. The Sri Varadarajaswamy temple is attributed to the Hoysala period and the Ugra Narasimhaswamy temple is connected to the Mahabharata myth. The town was once called `Arjunapuri’ as Arjuna is said to have installed the idol here and worshipped it. Another story tells us that it was also called `Kadamba Nadi Kshethram’  because Kadamba Rishi performed sacred rituals here using water from the river nearby. It seems the name Maddur(u) only arrived much later.

Interestingly, like the Maddur Vada, many other hot favourites – the Davangere Benne Dosa, Mysore Pak, Dharwad Peda and the Mangluru Bhajji are all rooted in a strong geographical identity. But that is a discussion meant for another rainy evening with a second round of Maddur Vadai. Right now, I’m just thanking the Lord for a train that arrived early.

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5 comments

  1. slurrp slurrp …
    you last paragraph is a killer…still tingling my taste buds 🙂
    Reading this post, i am reminiscing my childhood memories of mysore visits for the summer holidays. Maddur stop was always one of the highlight of visit to mysore and back 🙂 ..and how can I forget the churmuri, mysore pak and Hal-kova !

  2. Do recommend your favourite Maddur Vada places here 🙂

  3. Reading your blog makes me miss Bangalore even more. 😦

    Although every time i get back it takes me a couple of days to get attuned to the noise and the traffic, i still love my city. ❤

    1. Yes, the noise and the traffic are disruptive, which is why I often retreat to a quieter Bangalore out here on the cloud :-)Things have changed, but Bangalore still exists in bits and pieces, here and there.

  4. Dear Bangalore Girl,
    Thank you for this lovely blog. I moved to Bangalore earlier this year and slowly found things to love even as I navigated my way about the unfamiliar. I live in the lovely Cantonment area you have written so much about, and I found your blog while looking for information about the ‘monkey top’ roofs today.

    Could you please recommend your favourite maddur vada places here? Nothing would give me more joy than to eat my through the city, one thatte idli or vada at a time!

    P.s. I haven’t yet tasted a maddur vada.

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