All roads lead to Chandra Mahal in Chandrapur. No, Chandra Mahal is not a palace, it is a popular restaurant in the town. Morning walkers time their walk to arrive at Chandra Mahal at 7.30 in the morning for a hefty breakfast of idli, vada, and dosa, followed by piping hot coffee.
I went in the evening. The place was getting filled. I was looking for a place to park myself when I noticed this elderly man seated in a corner, waving to me. There was an empty chair opposite
I could see the smiling face with a turban around his head. “We owe all these dal-
I settled down to listen to the story, leisurely munching a dal-vada, savouring its taste. Those dal-vadas were really good. Even more exciting was the story the talkative man told about Chandranna who invented it.
Chandranna and Lakkamma lived in a small hut on the outskirts of the town. Chandranna would do some odd jobs, and what he earned was barely enough to get some ragi to make ragi-mudde. They grew vegetables in the backyard. Husband and wife were devoted to each other and had no complaints. They were satisfied with ragi-mudde and some onions and green chillies to go with it.
Chandranna had one weakness. He was fond of dal-vada, which his mother used to make when he was a kid. He had not eaten dal-vada for years. One evening, he had such a strong desire to have dal-vada he spoke to his wife Lakkamma about it. “Get me some dal and some oil. I’ll make dal-vada for you,” she said.
Chandranna put on his long coat; he tied a turban
As soon as he reached home, he squeezed the oil out of the turban cloth and collected the oil in a vessel. “We have enough oil. Where’s dal?” asked Lakkamma.
“In a minute, I’ll get you dal,” he said as he wounded the oily turban cloth
Chandranna now went to Bhimanna’s grocery shop, which was next to Ramanna’s shop. He
Chandranna went to the backyard where they grew vegetables. He pulled some fresh onions, washed them, and collected a few mint leaves and some chillies.
Lakkamma soaked the dal for an hour. Chandranna ground the dal into batter to which salt was added. Lakkamma cut the onion, chillies and mint leaves and mixed them with the batter. Meanwhile, Chandranna had started the fire in the oven and kept oil boiling in a kadhai. Lakkamma made small balls of batter, flattened them a bit and dropped them in the boiling oil. A couple of minutes later she scooped them out and dropped them into a plate. Soon a plateful of dal-vadas were ready. Chandranna, picked one and bit into it. Then he stopped.
“It’s delicious, ” said Chandranna. “Pack a few
Chandranna went to the grocery shops and offered dal-
That’s how Chandranna began to sell dal-
“Now you know the connection between the dal-vada and the turban, don’t you?” asked the talkative man.
I nodded my head in reverence as I dropped some notes for the dal-vadas.
I left a generous tip, thinking of Chandranna.