Bangalore’s Khara Buns / Masala Buns – Spiced Rolls of Nostalgia!

Growing up in Chennai , the good old Madras of the yesteryears, I knew of only 2 seasons – hot and hotter. No, seriously, ask any Chennaiite..and they can attest to the fact that a slightest dip in the temperature, and mind you this is like slightest  dip in the barometer, and you and can get the folks talking about it. About how there is chill in the air, how we should get the sweaters – out, no seriously sweaters as in the one we all would all own a  single piece  of woolen clothing that could service us for years as they were used  very sparingly. Transplanting  this Chennaiite to the neighboring state of  Karnataka, could induce “chill attack” hitherto unknown to the heat accustomed body.

Of course, Bangalore would be this heavenly sojourn and a welcome respite from the Chennai summers. Especially in the months of May and June. As kids, my brother and I  have often been to Bangalore to visit our grandparents and uncles. Bangalore was in some ways another home. Beautiful, lush parks and cool weather that soothes the mind, body and soul. And, no visit to Bangalore would be complete without indulging in Iyengar bakery’s Khaara buns. we would just wait for the clock to strike 3 pm to weasel out money for this one or simply wait until my grandmom, would issue a dictate to indulge in this treat. Oh, and what a treat it was! Hot and spicy, just out of the oven with a cripsy crust, a spongy  center and absolutley delectable!

And as we often do, I took a trip down the memory lane one too many times the past few days. Probably running  around  with a myriad of things and sense of ” I – am ‘-on-the-hamster- wheel ” feeling struck me very strongly. After quick call to mom and dad, and assuring yours truly that everything and everyone in the near and dear circle were peachy, I finally decided to do something productive. Plus ,I was baby sitting an imp of a five year old. My youngest’s close ally in all the trouble ever perpetuated, this one was demanding all my attention since he was deprived of my kids company, albeit for a couple of hours.

Really , how still can a 5 – year old sit? Apparently a whole 10 minutes was near equivalent to a lifetime of inactivity 🙂  And so, yours truly was bombarded with questions….

” How come Curious George’s guy always wears yellow ?”

” How come A3 has school until 3.45 Pm?”

” Are you cooking?”

“Are you baking?”

“Is it yummy?”

“What are you making?”


” I am thirsty” And after a gallon of water  “I need to pee.. again “.

Back to ” Why is it only 2.30? When is A1 coming?”

And I realized , I better stock up on enough fodder to entertain a 5 year  old,and a lonely one at it.  So after a bit of Curious George and game of I spy.. we baked. Or rather I baked and answered some more of his questions.

Here’s an ode to Bangalore’s Masala Buns.. May it whet your appetite !

Spiced rolls/buns of Nostalgia – Bangalore’s Khara buns

 Prep time : 15 – min   Dough resting time – 50-60 min Baking time 22-25 min

Yields 10-12 buns.

Ingredients for the Dough:

  1. 2 cups Self rising flour+ about 3-4 tbsp extra flour if required
  2. 1 1/2 tsp rapid acting dry yeast. I used the fleishmann’s kind found in grocery stores.
  3. ¾ cup of Water
  4. ¼ cup of yogurt
  5. 1 tsp of sugar
  6. 2 tbsp of Olive oil or any fat of your choice
  7. 1 1/2 tsp Salt

For the smacking flavors of spice :

  1. ½ cup – ¾ cup of onions , thinly sliced
  2. 4-6 green chillis ( I used thai chillis ) finely chopped
  3. ½ cup of finely chopped green coriander leaves
  4. 1 tsp Cumin seeds

 For the glaze

  1. 1 tbsp of butter and milk

Process :

Proofing the yeast:

  1. In a microwave safe bowl, warm the water to a reasonably warm temperature. Rapid acting yeast requires luke warm temperature to begin its action. Boiling water will kill the yeast and cold water will not make it active.
  2. Add in the sugar and yeast and stir well and set aside for 7-8 minutes. You should see frothy upper layer forming on the surface of your bowl. If you do not see this , chances are one of the variables required was skewed. Go ahead and redo this process. An inactive yield would not impart the same successful results you need.

Making the dough:

  • In a wide bowl, add the flour and whisk it with the salt.
  • And the ¼ cup of yogurt and incorporate it gently. I gently folded the yogurt into the flour and used my fingers to do it.
  • Now add in the chopped onions, coriander leaves, cumin seeds and any other spices of your choice and a pinch of salt if required.
  • Mix in thoroughly. Again , I did not use a food processor or dough maker. Just my hands .
  • Add in the yeast frothy mixture of water and sugar and gently mix in the dough.
  • Once it forms a ball of a reasonable shape, add in the 2 tbsp of olive oil, knead again and cover it with a plastic wrap. By now your dough should resemble a big round blob. If it is too sticky add in the extra 3-4 tablespoons of flour to get a soft, pliable and non-sticky dough.
  • Set it side for about 45- 60 minutes, so the dough nearly doubles in size.

Baking process:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 deg F.
  • Re-knead the dough gently. You might need to grease your hands to do this. You do not need to vigorously punch out the air and re-knead it again and again. I just got the dough out on a clean working surface and kneaded it for about 5 minutes. Now you have a bigger blob on your hands! Proof that the yeast and leavening agents did their job!
  • Divide it into about 12 -14 rounds and the globes need to be placed a few inches apart from each other.
  • Place it in the center rack and bake for about 22-25 minutes.

Baked goodies and serving

  • The buns would bake a nice golden brown and should sound a bit hollow when tapped.
  • And the skewer test would work too.( stick a skew int he center and it should come out clean!)
  • Once done brush it with a prepared glaze of melted butter in warm milk to give it the nice glow.
  • To serve, slice a bun in half and add a dollop of butter and eat warm with a cup of chai.

Points to be noted 

  • If the frothy mixture of yeast and sugar is not happening, please redo this step.
  • If your dough gets sticky during the initial process, add in a few tablespoons of the flour to ease it out.
  • Greasing your palms when you make these globes for baking is a good idea.
  • Using a parchment paper on your baking sheet makes clean up a breeze.

Happy indulging !

Khara Buns
Khara Buns