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Dhoni, the apple cake of Bangalore’s eye

Wisden India logo Wisden India 13-05-2016

With Bangalore’s VIVO Indian Premier League 2016 campaign wavering, we decided to scout the streets of the city looking for an alternate XI that could actually go all the way. The intention was very noble, but one waft of ghee-roasted masala dosa and our compass lost its magnetic field. What resulted, then, was this XI – the grand answer to the question: What if Bangalore food items were IPL players? Unknowingly, and much like Vijay Mallya at this year’s auctions, we seemed to have stumbled upon one helluva team! Though lacking slightly in the human element, at least no one will complain again of Bangalore not fielding any local players.

Apple cake | MS Dhoni (captain and wicketkeeper)

Humble origins, misleading identity.

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It may be made up of just left-over cakes and crumbs from the previous night, but the incredibly delicious, homogenous texture of the apple cake completely belies its origins. But if it is something apple-rich that you’re anticipating, you may be in for a bit of a shock – this popular condiment gets its name only from the little bit of apple essence infused into it last minute.

In the cricketing world, the apple cake’s soul twin would most likely be MS Dhoni. A resoundingly successful career that completely betrays his salt-of-the-earth origins, and a true-blue Ranchi boy with Pune on his T-shirt. The only confusion would be whether this is a match made in food or cricket heaven.

Best at: Srinivasa Brahmin’s Bakery (DVG Road), JLB Bakery (Lal Bagh Road)

Honey cake | Ajinkya Rahane (opener)

Sweet, airy, understated.

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Soft, white and without frills, the honey cake is by no means the most conspicuous item in the display case, but one bite of it and you start to wonder why it doesn’t get more mileage. It is also easy on the stomach – no greasiness, no overt sugariness – just a pleasant, melt-in-the-mouth sweetness.

The honey cake of the IPL is undoubtedly Ajinkya Rahane. Constantly undervalued at the auctions, but a player that continues to hold the Rising Pune Supergiants’ batting together, you get the feeling that Rahane enjoys that comfy spot under the radar. And when he bats, there are fewer sights more easy on the eyes – no jagged edges, no pointless flailing – just a pleasant flowing technique.

Best at: Any of the original Iyengar’s bakeries

KBC or Khara bun congress | Dwayne Bravo (allrounder)

One plus one equals three.

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The KBC, at first sight, looks like a coming together of elements that really should not coexist. The buttered bun and the congress peanuts would easily warrant a place on any menu card just on their own. But together, against all odds, they are a foodgasm to be reckoned with. Every bite takes you through a whole world of textures and flavours – soft, crunchy, smooth, buttery, spicy.

The only IPL player that can hold a candle to the easy swag of the KBC is Dwayne Bravo. As an explosive batsman that can tear the opposition to shreds in the matter of a few balls, he can easily hold his own, but add to that his effective bowling spells that have lit-up many editions of the IPL, and you have a player that is more than a sum of his parts. Together, the two throw all your math formulae in a loop.

Best at: VB Bakery (Sajjan Rao Circle), Butter Sponge (Gandhi Bazaar)

Butter gulkand and ice-cream | AB de Villiers (middle-order bat)

More than what you bargained for.

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The butter gulkand and ice cream is not everyone’s cuppa, but what you get will definitely be more than what you paid for. While the name only suggests some gulkand and ice cream with a dash of butter, the bowl that ultimately comes to you is a heady concoction of figs, apricots, banana and gooseberries. Complete with a cherry on top.

The first name that comes to mind when you think about a deceptively wide-ranging player is AB de Villiers. His agility in the field, his sharpness of mind, his destructive batting and his ability to read situations are all a part of the package that comes labelled simply as ‘batsman’. And there is always his unerring gentlemanliness – the cherry on top, if you will.

Best at: Shivanna Gulkand (VV Puram), Bhagyalakshmi Butter and Gulkand Store (Malleshwaram)

Thatte idli | Chris Gayle (opener)

One-dimensional, incredibly popular, and best consumed hot.

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Translating into ‘plate idli’, the thatte idli is only a variation on the traditional idli in its shape, but has made an independent name for itself in the tindi (snack) market. It is thin to the point of nearly being one-dimensional and flies off the shelves in no time. Don’t wait too long to take a generous bite, though, because hot is the necessary ingredient in making this snack as easy to consume as it is.

Just like Chris Gayle. In IPL 2016, with form not walking out alongside him to the middle, the man looked at times like a pale shadow of the run-making machine we have all come to love and adore. And no one need tell you how the man only operates on one gear – bang, bang, bang, bust.

Best at: Renukamba thatte idli (Bidadi, Mysore Road), Idli Mane (VV Puram)

Floating pani puri | Yuvraj Singh (middle-order bat)

A dish by any other name… ?

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The pani puri has, for most of us, served as a single-handed inculcation into street food. With that irresistible combination of textures and flavours, and that incomparable feeling of the puri bursting in the mouth, it really is unmatched in popularity, inspiring a whole line of spin-offs. One such borrowing is the floating pani puri, which basically reverses the street snack – with the puris floating on the paani rather than carrying it. Other than the name though, you’d be hard-pressed to find any real novelty.

Just like the first bite of pani puri helped shed most of our apprehensions about street food, Yuvraj Singh’s six sixes in a single over during the inaugural T20 World Cup irrevocably warmed our hearts to the new format. And whichever IPL team’s name he might carry – and he has carried five! – Yuvi will always remain Yuvi.

Best at: Ganesha chats (VV Puram), Om Shiva Shakti Chats Centre (Basavanagudi)

Nippattu burger | Michael Hussey (opener)

The traditionalist in a modern garb.

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The nippattu burger is a real chameleon with the changing times. It takes a traditional South Indian dry snack in the nippattu, and inserts it into the most gen-Y friendly form: a burger. But while it still sounds out of place, nothing about that crunchy, spicy bite is awkward.

Michael Hussey is not called Mr Cricket for no reason. His ability to use technique to navigate just about every situation, and to keep amalgamating runs through all of it makes him of the absolute bastions of the traditional school of cricket. But see him in the IPL and you’ll want to rub your eyes in disbelief. Having been integral to much of Chennai Super Kings’ success across seven seasons, he continues to prove that you needn’t become a different person to do well in T20s.

Best at: Chetty’s Corner (Kumara Park West), Ganesha Chats (VV Puram)

Paddu | Sir Ravindra Jadeja (all-rounder)

Making bits-and-pieces look cool.

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The paddu feels like an accidental discovery. It uses the ingredients of a dosa, the approximate shape of an idly, and a texture that lies somewhere in the middle. Initially probably just a lazy morning discovery, it is now a complete rage and a snack in its own right.

Jaddu shares more in common with the unassuming snack than just an alliteration on the name. ‘Sir Jadeja’ is a player that seems to borrow techniques from all over the place, but somehow it all makes sense in the end, and he has earned himself a permanent place in the history books of the shorter formats.

Best at: Paddu Center Hotel (Hanumanthnagar), Shri Vasavi Chatnis (VV Puram)

Masala dosa | Sachin Tendulkar (mentor)

The grandmaster.

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When you first mention South India to any other Indian, chances are, the first association to pop up will be the masala dose. It has come to represent not just a cuisine, but also an entire region. And if you have been to enough tindi houses in the city, you will know that whether you order the masala dose or not, there is no escaping its lingering smell.

Just like there can only be one king of South Indian food, there is only one name that stands for cricket to any Indian: Sachin Tendulkar. And though he may no longer be playing in the IPL, his presence continues to linger – in the techniques, in the celebrations and in the Mumbai Indians’ dugouts.

Best at: CTR (Malleshwaram), MTR (Mavalli), Vidyarthi Bhavan (Gandhi Bazaar)

Tomato chips masala | Rohit Sharma (middle-order bat)

Will the real star please stand up?

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Clearly an innovation of a mind that was ravenously hungry and a pantry that was stocked with some tomato chips and a few stray vegetables and fruits, tomato chips masala can be a confusing delight. Due to the chunkiness of all of its ingredients, you can never be sure what your next bite will taste of – the tangy pineapple, the spicy chips, the cool cucumber, or the crunchy peanuts.

The only player that comes to mind when consuming such an unpredictable line of ingredients is Rohit Sharma. He is the same guy that will take you to the cleaners in the matter of a ball, and the same guy who will struggle to get the scoreboard ticking. The same guy who will hunker down and not mutter a word, and the same guy who will engage in verbal combat if really pushed. It really depends on what spoonful you scoop out on the day.

Best at: Maruti Bhel Center (Gavipuram)

Filter coffee | Lasith Malinga (death over specialist)

The palate cleanser.

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Ask any South Indian, and they will tell you that no good meal is complete until it is washed down with a piping hot cup of coffee, its sharp caffeine kicking you out of any rice-induced slumber that might have resulted.

Ask any batsman, and they’ll tell you nothing can wake them up like a Lasith Malinga yorker. Ever the go-to during the death for the Mumbai Indians, there really is no one else that can clean up an innings with such precision, ruthlessness and style.

Best at: Brahmin’s Coffee Bar (Shankarpuram), Maiyya’s (Jayanagar)

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