Bengaluru's first Iyengar bakery is 65

Bengaluru's first Iyengar bakery is 65

V B Bakery, founded in 1953, is still popular for its buns, puffs and cakes.

VV Puram, named after the celebrated engineer M Visvesaraya, is now famous for a street teeming with little wayside eateries. It bustles every evening with people enjoying the vegetarian street food experience. (The area is predominantly Brahmin, Vysya and Jain, staunchly vegetarian by custom.)

Sixty five years ago, this was a quiet neighbourhood with middle class homes and some bungalows. The Bengaluru branch of Arya Samaj, the Hindu reform society founded by Dayananda Saraswati in 1875, was among the landmarks here. It was a venue for the rare inter-caste marriages of the time.

VB Bakery, short for Visvesvarapuram Brahmin Bakery, opened here, unaware that it would inaugurate a tradition of Iyengar bakeries. Today, people still clamour for its buns, puffs and cakes and pastries.

VB Bakery was started by K Tirumalachar in 1953. Hailing from Hassan district, he broke away from tradition to start a business no one in his community had tried: baking. The place is now run by his son K T Srinivas.

“VB Bakery has been delivering the same quality over the years. The recipes are preserved and passed on from generation to generation. We have stood the test of time,” says S Murali, Finance manager, VB Bakery, when Metrolife visited the bakery.

The bakery opens at 6 am and closes at 11 pm. In the mornings, joggers from Lal Bagh pick up their favourite snacks on their way home.

Many students studying in schools around the area got hooked to the taste of this pioneering Iyengar bakery. Several Iyengar families, hailing from the same Hassan district, were inspired by Thirumalachar and eventually ventured into the bakery business, setting up shop across Bengaluru and Karnataka.

The bakery counts also among its regular customers Kannada movie stars such as Srinath, Puneeth Rajkumar, Doddanna, Tara, Prema, and Ramesh Bhat. Srinath, hero of hundreds of romantic films enjoying the honorific of Pranaya Raja (king of romance) often stands in a queue waiting for his turn.
VB Bakery is crowded in the mornings and the evenings, but the afternoon customers are the ones that get to buy buns and breads just out of the oven.

“Back in those days, Tirumalachar kept the bakery open until 11 pm just for labourers working late. They would drop by after their work and eat VB Bakery special buns,” he recalls.

VB Bakery supplies bread and buns to schools and hostels, and also steps in when the city hosts marathons and such other events. It has largely retained its bestselling items: sweet and khara buns, special buns (they put raisins in it), unsweetened and special bread (sugar added), vegetable puffs, cookies, and sweets such as dumrot (made from pumpkin for the weekends) and badam burfi. The menu has not changed much despite stiff competition from other bakeries and eateries.

National High School and College are among the institutions within walking distance.

Students get nostalgic about the bakery. Those settled abroad sometimes give in to their cravings and order their favourite eats; the bakery ships them to San Francisco and New Jersey.

Christmas is a busy time. “You can’t even enter the street then. One day’s turnover equals a week’s turnover,” says the manager. The Jains want items with no potato and onion, but the bakery is still pondering over the request.

More recent additions

Over the years, the bakery has added new items to its mix. The potato bun, for instance, came much after the buns and khara (spiced) buns had caught the fancy of customers. Their KBC or khara bun with Congress---khara bun sliced horizontally, buttered, and stuffed with Congress kadlekai (peanuts) is about 20 years old. In fact, Congress kadlekai is itself a special item: it is skinned peanut fried (not deep fried) with curry leaves, spiced with pepper, and mixed with turmeric. The latest additions are wholewheat masala Congress bread, cheese-corn spinach stuffed buns.

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