December 28, 2006

Bangalore Day 3 - Google and Dakshin

I haven't written much about Google Bangalore, partly because I can't say much about it and partly because it's not that different from what I do for Google Mountain View. The office is in a nice building in a posh part of town, but not in one of the "Special Economic Zones" (SEZs). We walk there each morning from the hotel, Debbie does internet stuff for a while and sometimes we have lunch there.

The lunches are quite different from Google in Mountain View, not too surprisingly. For one thing, while we get Indian food in Mountain View. It's nothing like this! There is a choice of from six to eight hot dishes, two kinds of rice, one or two kinds of bread, fresh fruits, salad and dessert - and that's just the "Indian" side of the lunch. We also have a more "Western" style lunch with prepared salads, a salad bar, and various prepared sandwiches. Google also provided breakfast and dinner. I haven't yet tried the dinner, but breakfast was two kinds of hot farina, and an assortment of cold cereals.

For dinner we went to "Dakshin" a fancy restaurant in the Sheraton Towers. The idea is that it serves authentic southern regional dishes presented in an elegant setting with live music, in our case a duo from tamil nadu on the mridangam (drum) and venu (bamboo flute). The restaurant kindly moved us right up next to the musicians when it became clear we were really into the music.

The food started with papads fried in oil that had first been flavored by frying chilis in it. These were the lightest, crispiest, best papads I've had. I'm sure living in India we'll find even better ones eventually but so far these are the best! They were served with four chutneys, two of them standard coconut and cilantro, two of them more unusual - a tomato chutney, and a "sour leaf" chutney, a fermented leaf that reminded me of lime pickle, salty, tart, and pungent. All were great but the sour leaf chutney on the papads was especially good.

Next came a pair of fritters. One was slightly sweet banana and cashew, the other was a more salty rice and lentil flour dumpling. Both had been fried, and were quite delicious. We started with "Kozhi Varuval" a "dry" dish of pieces of boneless chicken marinated in spices and deep fried. Then Maama Saaru (boneless lamb mysore style), Kelayachi Bahji (raw banana with sesame and red chilis), traditional local rice, and Elaneer Payasam (Hyderabadi tender coconut kernels cooked in reduced sweet coconut milk flavored with cardamom.)

Finally they brought us a tray of paan (betel leaf) in this case filled with spices, sugar and flavors including cloves and crystallized ginger. I'm still trying to figure out how one is supposed to chew the things, but I'm going to keep at it for a while.
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