Slow Cooking ~ Mysore Iyengar Grandfather Sridharan

by on October 20, 2014

Watching Mr. Sridharan lovingly drop every batch of kodubale into the hot oil, allowing them to turn golden brown was an unforgettable experience. He watched over each batch like a protective parent, as the kodubale sizzled, tossed, somersaulted and finally acquired the perfectly golden glow which brought a smile to his lips.

 

Perhaps slow cooking has that effect. It is an exercise in serenity and patience as much as it calls for perfection at every step and an incisive eye for detail. All of this describes N. S. Sridharan. Has he infused his professional expertise with these intrinsic qualities or has he imbibed these qualities from his profession is something we will never know!

 

Sridharan, a resident of Bangalore, happens to be the first protagonist of my column at Harmony Magazine titled His Ladle Love, a column dedicated to men who wield a deft ladle in the kitchen. As he wistfully looks back on his 69 years, he recounts how he was in the business of supplying this delicious kodubales for six years, finding immense satisfaction in doing so.

 

As I interviewed him, I could see that he is passionate about his kodubales and likens it to an art form. Perfection, he says, is the most important ingredient, for every stage is crucial: from mixing ingredients and kneading the dough to frying, cooling and preserving. With his penchant for perfection, he always kneaded the dough himself. His wife Sulochana proudly declares that is the secret of his success.

 

Bangalore N. S. Sridharan

Have you always been interested in the food business?
Not really, I started my career with ITI (Indian Telephone Industries), but after a few years switched my field of work. From 1992-97, I ran a fine vegetarian bakery by the name of Srinivasa Iyengar Bakery in KR Puram, Bangalore and got a fairly good response.

 

Did the kodubale happen after that?
Yes, my brother was supplying kodubale to some shops and doing well, so he suggested that I do the same. I took over from him and did this from year 2000 to 2006.

 

How many places did you supply to?
I supplied kodubale only to two places – Nilgiris, which is a departmental chain of stores and Buttersponge, which is a bakery. I appointed two helpers and managed.

 

Did you not wish to expand further?
I was quite content with its scale. Also, I was not keen on chasing payments from all and sundry, hence I just chose my comfort zone.

 

What are your favourite foods? Do you like eating out?
I like simple home-cooked meals. I don’t like to eat out. Life is simple and I like it to remain like this.

 

And where are you from? Where did you study?
We are Mysore Iyengars. I was born and brought up in Bangalore and did my PUC here. I have lived here most of my life except for a few years when I tried my hand at a fast food joint in Shimoga. That did not work out, so I returned to Bangalore.

 

Ok. You mean you are Iyengars who belong to Karnataka unlike the Tamilian Iyengars?
That is right. But you must remember that earlier, a large part of South India was simply one state. This distinction between Mysore Iyengars and Tamilian Iyengars is a later one.

 

3X1A9982 (His Ladle Love - Sridharan NS)

 

How many children do you have?
We have two daughters – Veena Vikram and Vidya Srinivas. Both are married and have a daughter each. My grand-daughters are Anusha, who is 18, and Ashitha, who is 5 years old. We lead a simple content life.

 

That is a formula that seems to be vanishing in today’s world. What do you think?
I agree. I think that these days people are becoming self-centered. Earlier we were happy to share and adjust with others at home. Now, everyone thinks of their earnings only for themselves. How can this ever lead to a feeling of contentment? Differences in wealth and status are more obvious now than ever before.

 

By this time, all the kodubale had been fried to a luscious golden colour, drained and laid to rest on a large steel platter. As his wife, Sulochana, transferred all the leftover oil to a container, a question sizzled in my mind…

 

My last question – what do you do with so much leftover oil?
Sometimes we use it in our home-cooking if that happens immediately. But mostly we just give it to the domestic staff and ask them to consume it soon.

 

Thank you so much. I am looking forward to your kodubale recipe. Is this prepared on any special occasions?
Yes, it is considered as a pindi during Gokulashtami. It is also known as Ring Murukku in Tamilnadu. It is a popular snack in many of our homes. I am really happy to share this recipe with you. We have enjoyed this interview. Do let us know when you try the recipe. Hope it comes out perfectly.

 

First published in September 2014 in Harmony – the Indian magazine for silvers for the column – ‘His Ladle Love’. A series about men who experience the joy of cooking and can weild a deft ladle in the kitchen. Part-2 of this post is the recipe of Kodubale by Sridharan. He is the first of the silver men to be featured in this column.

 

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Srivalli October 24, 2014 at 1:54 am

It’s so nice knowing about Mr N. S. Sridharan. Reading about such simple and passionate people makes all the difference in life. Will check out the recipe, thanks for sharing.

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