Birdwatching can stress your biochemistry. We woke before sunrise, had tea and biscuits, piled into cars and drove out in the countryside outside Hampi. We had packaged snacks in our backpacks, but you know how healthy packaged food usually is. We got to breakfast almost four hours after that tea.
It was a little shack by the road and I would have easily gone past it if it hadn’t been for the crowd of people waiting outside for their morning fix of starches and fats. The reason for this popularity was instantly clear once I peered into the shack. A lady was busy frying up chilis dipped into a batter. Next to it was an instrument which I would have identified as an idli steamer if it wasn’t for the fact that it was greasy. It turned out to be a paddu pan, and was used to make the delicious gullyappa paddu that you can see in the featured photo.
Across a narrow strip of floor, a man, presumably the cook’s husband, was doling out food to the madding crowd. Rural south India has a common culture when it comes to serving food. A plate or a table will have a strip of banana leaf over it: clean, biodegradable and single use renewable. The leaf will be put over a steel plate, long-lasting and therefore not resource hungry.
The gullyappa paddu is made out of a batter of rice and dal, slightly different in proportion from that used for dosas. The fermented batter is mixed with onions and herbs, put into an oiled paddu pan, and cooked closed, so that it steams and fries. It is delicious with the sambar and chutney that you see the man doling out. Some fried chili, some utthapam, lots of yoghurt, many cups of strong and sweet south Indian filter coffee followed. A late but great breakfast was the consensus.