A touch of simplicity
Everything about Imli spells home — its cheerful yellow walls, quaint tiled facade and the patterned curtains that add a touch of colour to its interiors. Scrabble tiles, a carrom board and decks of cards are stacked neatly in one corner, and customers are encouraged to accompany their meals with a quick game.
The food is delicious and yet simple — everyday fare served with traditional garnishes, which is cooked without too much oil and retains a stubbornly home-cooked aroma.
In the mere month since it has been set up, Imli — which specialises in dishes from across North India — has managed to create a fairly loyal customer base.
It leaves behind glamourous accompaniments and fancy side dishes, and focusses instead on what migrants to the City love to eat — food that reminds them of home. Archana, the woman behind the idea, says she’d have it no other way.
“I’ve wanted to open a little cafe since 1997. Over the years, I’ve called friends home to eat some of the dishes I’ve made and that’s when I decided on an actual theme — a home-cooked scenario, food that people from outside don’t get in Bangalore,” she explains.
The dishes are varied and their origins are scattered across North India.
“We have some Bengali cuisine, a few Marwari dishes and some Punjabi meals as well.
I’m half-Punjabi and married to a Marwari — and we’ve come up with all the recipes ourselves,” says Archana. The menu is categorised into sections, each headed by a quirky title.
Thus, Din Bhar Ka Khana Peena includes a few quick snacks — crisp-fried mathri served with homemade mango achar; samosas served with curd and onion; aloo poha generously flavoured with green chillies, chopped onion and coriander and the all-time favourite, aloo tikki.
Paranthas stuffed with potato, peas, paneer and radish are popular items and a variety of dals—including Amritsari dal, rajma and the aptly named Maa ki dal — cooked and heavily spiced black lentil — are also available. Light eaters can substitute their paranthas with light, fluffy phulkas, with the option of adding a dollop of butter to it.
“Our cooks come from across the country — in fact the head is from Nainital. They were used to a more standard, North Indian, restaurant-styled cooking, so I had to work with them for months to mellow down the food and ensure it was less oily and more simple,” recalls Archana.
The section of the menu which best exemplifies the eatery’s diversity is the one titled Chaat-Vaat. It includes jhaal moori from Bengal, karere aloo ki chaat, papdi chaat, sev puri and makai bhel, all generously spiced and garnished.
The eatery mainly caters to young professionals, some of whom drop in for a quick bite between office hours and others who come for a more leisurely experience, ordering starters and indulging in a game of scrabble.
“We wanted to create a sort of adda environment. In fact, initially, I used to ask my friends to sit and play the board games so that the
other customers would be encouraged to do so! We’ve got quite a few regulars now, who drop in for lunch on a regular basis,” Archana states.
Imli is located at 204, 5th Main, 7th Cross, Indiranagar Stage I. For details, call 409494649.