James Beard Publication of the Year 2017

Spicy Peanut Bun > Morning Run

Spicy Peanut Bun > Morning Run

Masala Peanut Bun in Bengaluru

My morning run usually takes me along the edge of Bengaluru’s Ulsoor Lake, but the other day I let myself drift a few blocks so I could stop at a distinctly Bangalorean cafe for some filter coffee and a masala peanut bun.

Hatti Kaapi, on Ulsoor Road, is walking distance from where the troops of British General Charles Cornwallis camped just before they smashed their way into the city in 1791. Upon claiming it for the British East India Company, the invading soldiers went about building their own Bengaluru (formerly known as “Bangalore”). They created a separate city in and around the Ulsoor area still today known as the “cantonment,” which more or less means “military district.” The British segregated themselves in this way across India, and in Bengaluru the cantonment was known for its bungalows, spacious streets, and ample sporting grounds, where soldiers such as Winston Churchill devoted much of their non-military lives to polo. The “native” part of town was called the “pete,” and, though these divisions are less apparent today, the old cantonment lives on in neighborhood names such as “Cambridge Layout,” and the area’s vaguely European-style eateries.

[Read: Learning to love cricket in India]

Just down the street from Hatti Kaapi are two cafes where patrons will find menus stocked with espressos, French toast, and pasta, but not much traditionally Indian. My breakfast at Hatti Kaapi has far more local origins: filter coffee is the morning drink of choice in much of South India, and the masala bun stuffed with slightly spicy peanuts is a treat that originated in Bengaluru bakeries.

A regular filter coffee is served in a metal tumbler placed inside a dabara, which resembles a broad, squat bowl. You’re supposed to pour the milky, steaming coffee back and forth between the two to cool it, but I opted for the large, which for whatever reason came in a paper cup, so I did no such thing. The masala peanut bun is a take on peanuts spiced with onions and chilis and other vegetables—a snack found all over Bengaluru. These peanuts get stuffed into a buttery, spiced roll, giving my breakfast a soft crunch.

I’d like to say I returned to my run after I ate, but that would be a lie. Instead I walked by those two more continental cafes, turned past the former British military parade ground now known as Mahatma Gandhi Road, where there is now a big mall with a Marks & Spencer, and went home.

Hatti Kaapi
45/1, Ulsoor Road
Bengaluru, India

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