Valliamma’s paniyarams in Bengaluru’s Vidyaranyapura come packed with a punch

Crisp and doused in ghee, the paddus are cooked on a firewood stove on a tiny makeshift cart

February 22, 2024 08:25 am | Updated 08:26 am IST

Valliamma and her husband make a perfect team

Valliamma and her husband make a perfect team | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

If you live in Vidyaranyapura, then a brisk evening walk is sure to land you at the first block, which houses a range of food trucks once the sun sets. The trucks are parked at short intervals right from a little ahead of the Bell White Square Apartment to All Seasons Mart.

If you think a walk in this area is an ideal way to lose weight you might as well give up on that idea right away. When you reach the first block, you are sweaty and famished and, the aroma from the various food trucks is a sure shot invitation to indulge. The best part is you can pamper yourself from the select menu that any one truck offers or make the walk back a return buffet experience by grabbing a bite at every food truck that captivates your cravings.

We pass the falooda truck, the tender coconut water seller and then a few more steps and we land right in front of Mom’s Paddu Stall. It is the tiniest of food carts on this road, but the busiest of the lot.

Valliamma, the 52-year-old lady who started this enterprise two years ago, runs it efficiently. She stands close to a stove placed over burning coals, leaning backwards as her hands deftly pour out the rice and fenugreek batter onto the large iron mould. Her husband, Shekhar, fans the coals to keep the fire and wood burning. Valliamma, waits for a minute and then dips her ladle into an aluminium box and douses the paddus with ghee all the while smiling and making polite conversation with her customers.

Before starting the paddu stall, Valliamma says, “I was selling bondas and bajjis in Thindlu circle. I gave it up when I had to stay home to help my children with their studies. Once their education was done, I worked as a tailor in a garment factory, but the long hours of sitting took a toll on my legs and feet and I had to give that up too,” says Valliamma as she uses a long aluminium pin to turn the half-cooked paddus in their mould and douse them with more ghee.

“That is when I decided to start a food stall again. I did not want to serve unhealthy snacks. My mother is a brilliant cook. We come from a rural background where we cook fresh and healthy food. Packaged and oily food is something we avoid. Since I learnt cooking from her, I decided to sell paddus. It is not only filling but also healthy and there is no one in this area that sells paddus.

Valliamma picks the paddus with the long pin again and drops them into a plastic plate, which she hands to Shekhar, who with precision and speed, dips a ladle into a bucket and draws out a red chutney and pours it on to the plate, then again into the next bucket and draws out a green chutney and hands the plates to the hungry customers.

Valliamma makes the paddu batter from scratch. “Kusuakki, regular raw rice, urad dal and fenugreek seeds are used to make this batter. These are served with a tomato chutney and pudina chutney, which are my mother’s recipes.”

A plate comes with six paddus and is priced at ₹40. Apart from paddu, Valliamma also sells mushroom biryani. “I started selling the biryani as many auto, bus and cab drivers who ate at our stall said a small portion of rice would work even better. That is when we introduced the mushroom biryani, priced at ₹60 a plate.

Valliamma says she puts up her stall around 5pm and closes once everything is sold. Shekar, Valliamma says helps tremendously. “As we cook on firewood, I need all the help I can get. We work on Sundays as well. My regular customers call to ask after me if I do not open the stall for even a day. Besides selling at the stall, there are a lot of takeaways that we cater to.”

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