Once a quiet, tree-shaded suburb of Mysuru, Kuvempu Nagar hasn’t been able to stave off the deliberate march of urban development. Two-wheelers zip up and down its streets, adding a noisy soundtrack, while an outcrop of new businesses competes for your attention. Where there may have earlier been an odd bakery or two to serve the neighbourhood, there are now several on the same street, all loosely tied together by a prefix that serves both as a descriptor and a brand. These are the Iyengar bakeries: stubbornly old-school, vegetarian bakeries that have defied passing trends and fickle tastes to retain an almost puzzling popularity.
The LJ Iyengar Bakery is a modest establishment, like the others in the area, with a rectangular glass display you can gently lean over while you pick what you would like to eat. In one corner sit neat loaves of freshly baked white bread, and in the other are “puffs”, layers of puff pastry folded into golden triangles, encasing an onion, carrot and potato heart. The biscuits lie heaped on the highest rung: Crumbly, cardamom-scented almond biscuits alongside rich, cashew-flecked ones, and earthy ragi biscuits to soften the burn of the green chilli-laden khara (or spicy) biscuits.