It was a walk down the memory lane for me (author in the picture) at the museum-like ambience at Gonikoppal town’s Papera restaurant in Coorg in Karnataka.
The owner of Papera, Adengada Rajesh Achaiah, who serves authentic Coorg cuisine, has been collecting traditional Coorg artefacts for the last two decades.
It was a nostalgic moment for me as I got to recall my early teenage years over five decades ago at my ancestral home at Kadangamurur, near Virajpet town in Coorg, where I grew up in my early years.
Most of the items displayed at Papera were in daily use in Coorg households several decades ago, but have almost disappeared now due to ‘modernisation’.
They include clay pots and pans, wicker baskets, fish traps, puttu presses, ladles, rice measures, etc.
Though I had seen most of the items on display during my early teens at the Nadmane (ancestral house), there was one item on display which I had not seen. The item consisted of two thick sticks, joined in the middle. Rajesh explained to me that the contraption was used for castrating a bull!
Rajesh has used every available space in the restaurant for displaying traditional household items used long ago in Coorg.
He said: “Many of the items belonged to my grandfather. I did not want to discard them. I also collected many items from various parts of Coorg.”
Asked to name his favorite item, Rajesh pointed to an earthen pot (Shakala) made out of a single piece used for reheating food.
Rajesh says most of the customers to his restaurant take selfies of the displays as they wait for their food to arrive.
IN A LIGHTER VEIN! A few decades ago, the first question a boy’s side would pop out during match-making was to find out whether the girl knew how to prepare akki otti (rice chapathi), the most important menu for breakfast in a Kodava household.
Though nowadays this may raise the hackles of women libbers, the fact still remains that if a woman from Coorg knows how to prepare akki otti, she has a better chance of making her marriage work!
Akki otti still remains the most popular dish. In some Kodava households, it is served for dinner also. The secret of the popularity of akki otti is that it goes well with any curry or chutney.
However, the priority in the match-making market in Coorg has changed these days. With women becoming career-oriented, it is a badge of honour for a prospective girl to claim that she does not know cooking. This is to say that she has no time for the kitchen and not ready to mess up her fingers cutting onions and vegetables. Moreover, it is so downmarket to say that she cooks!
But not many girls realize that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. And cooking akki otti could in fact be the best recipe for a successful marriage! These days, there are mixies and roti presses that make it easier to do the kneading for akki otti.
It is said nowadays there is division of labour in the kitchen and men do the kneading for akki otti and women do the rest.
If you are yet to learn to make akki otti, follow the link below:
The membership of the Facebook group www.www.coorgrecipes.com has crossed 5,000. Started in 2010, the majority of members in the group are women, particularly from Coorg.
Journalist P.T. Bopanna, who is the administrator of the group, said the group was mainly started to promote his website www.www.coorgrecipes.com. “Since more women than men joined the group, I had to tailor the content to suit the women members,” Bopanna added.
According to Bopanna, the USP of the group is that it is the foremost forum to highlight the achievement of women from Coorg.
The group has not been free from controversies. There have been complaints from some members that there is “too much skin show” in the posts. Bopanna admits that the situation is sometimes tricky because “the administrator is a man and a majority of members are women. They are bound to react. Probably, they would not have minded the skin show, if the administrator was a woman!”
There was toxic debate when the unconventional wedding photos of actress Nidhi Subbaiah to a non-Coorg were posted in the group. Similarly, the debate went ballistic when actor Rashmika Mandanna’s engagement to a non-Coorg was posted.
Deena Kambeyanda is an English lecturer at the Field Marshal K.M.Cariappa College, Madikeri. She is pursuing her Ph.D through Mangalore University. Married to Kambeyanda Bojanna, she has a son and a daughter.
Deena has done research on the Ainmanes and Kaimadas of Kodagu, and has documented her research in a book in Kannada, titled “Kodagina Mundmane Kaimada Mandhgala Shreemanta Parampare”.
Deena enjoys cooking for the family and friends. She says Payasa is a popular delicacy which is prepared on most occasions.
AKKI PAYASA (Rice and milk dessert)
1 cup rice
1 cup coconut milk
3 /4 cup white jaggery
1 cup milk
2 cups water
2 tsp ghee
3 pods cardamom
Method of Preparation:
Soak the jaggery in enough warm water to immerse it. Crush it well, strain and keep aside.
Boil 2 cups of water and add the rinsed rice to the boiling water. Let it cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
Once the rice is half cooked, add the jaggery syrup to it and let it cook until the rice becomes soft.
Stir well and add the milk and the cardamom powder, and cook it on a low flame.
Meanwhile, heat the ghee in a tadka pan and fry the cashewnuts and raisins and keep it aside.
Switch off the stove and let the payasa cool for 10 minutes.
Add the fried cashews, raisins, and the coconut milk and give it a quick stir.
What’s your definition of a “superwoman”? Succesfully juggling the roles of mother, entrepreneur, businesswoman, and jewellery model, Mechanda Reena Poovaiah, is definitely a contender for the title. Married to Sunil Mandanna, and mother of two children, Reena has strong roots in Coorg. She owns the ‘Cofe Couch’ brand involved in running a chain of cafes. Currently working for IBM , Reena says a passion for cooking is in her genes.
She shares recipes for Kayi Kadboo and Mutton Curry that have been passed on by her mother.
250 grams fine rice rava
250 ml water
1/2 teaspoon salt
100 grams grated coconut ( white only )
Add salt to the measured water
Wash the rice rava and soak it in the salt water for 2 mins
Place a muslin cloth in a steamer and transfer only the rice onto it. Wrap the cloth over the rice, cover and steam it for 20-25 minutes on a medium flame.
Sprinkle the remaining salt water onto the mixture
Cook until the mixture resembles a soft dough
Turn off the flame
Transfer the mixture onto a plate and mix fresh grated coconut. Roll into egg sized round, or oval shaped balls
Do the same with the rest of the dough.
Ingredients and method:
Ingredients to marinate
1tsp chilli powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Wash and clean the mutton with a little salt and turmeric powder. Then marinate the mutton with the above ingredients for about half an hour.
Ingredients to grind:
1 cup grated coconut
½ tsp jeera, ½ tsp coriander powder should be roasted on the thava separately.
1 “ cinnamon, 2 to 3 cloves, roasted until dark brown in colour
3 to 4 flakes of garlic
a small piece of ginger
Grind all these into fine paste.
Ingredients for seasoning:
2-3 tsp oil
1 piece cinnamon
2 green chilies
½ tsp jeera
1/2 tsp ginger paste
1/2 tsp garlic paste
Two sliced onions (in fairly large pieces)
One sliced tomato
1 tsp kachampuli, tamarind juice, or vinegar
One tsp chopped coriander leaves
Pour oil into a deep pan or heavy bottom vessel and heat it .
Add cinnamon, cloves, ginger and garlic paste, jeera, and green chillis. Cook till it starts to change colour.
Add sliced onions and sauté till golden brown .
Add the chopped tomatoes and fry well.
Add the Mutton into this and pressure cook on medium flame adding 1 1/2 cup water.
Once mutton is fully cooked, add vinegar,kachumpuli, or tamarind juice. Let it cook till you get a fine aroma .
Add the ground masala into this and fry till the oil floats on top of the masala .
If you want to have more gravy, add 1½ cup of water .
Finally, add coriander leaves. Now, switch off the stove and close the lid.
Chef Naren Thimmiah (in picture), executive chef, The Gateway Hotel – Residency Road, Bengaluru, opines that ‘Coorg Garam Masala’ and ‘Kachampuli’ are South India’s gift to the world, but something the rest of the country seems to be in the dark about.
Coorg Garam Masala:
This particular combination of masalas from the Coorg region, where Thimmiah grew up, is a must for Coorg-style pork and chicken curries. The dark brownish powder is made with a blend of whole coriander, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, cumin and mustard seeds.
“They’re dry roasted separately first and then powdered to a coarse consistency,” says the chef.
It’s this masala which lends the slightly dark colour and earthy, smokey flavour to the meat curries. Most importantly, the combination of spices helps offset the fat in the pork, making it easier to digest. “Besides, Coorg is cold through the year because it is either winter or the monsoon. The spices in our food keep us warm,” says the chef.
Picture for representative purpose. Picture courtesy: culstreet.com
Kodampuli and Kachampuli:
If Kokum is popular in western India, Kodampuli is the southern equivalent. The ridged fruit is yellow-orange when it’s ripe but darkens as it dries. Although it is widely used in the south to add tartiness to curries and to create Kachampuli, the thick dark vinegar, Kodampuli is not commercially grown.
“It grows wild. Most people in Coorg pick Kodampuli from their backyards,” reveals the chef. The fruit ripens and falls in the rainy season. The seed is cut open and the skin left out to dry. This dark dried fruit is a must for most fish curries made in the south. In Coorg, the fruit is juiced as soon as it ripens; then the juice left to ferment.
The liquor is then cooked until it reduces to the consistency and colour of balsamic vinegar. “It is so tart that even a drop of the thick liquid is enough to give you a kick,” describes Thimmiah.
The vinegar, known as Kachampuli, is used to marinate chicken, pork and fish which is then pan-fried to serve as a ‘side dish’. With the demand for Kachampuli growing, the prices are skyrocketing, warns the chef. A 150ml bottle could cost you as much as Rs 1600 in Bangalore.
Reproducing the write-up by Samar Halarnkar (in picture) which appeared in LiveMint, an Indian daily business newspaper, published by HT Media. This is a column on easy, inventive cooking from a male perspective.
Samar Halarnkar is the author of The Married Man’s Guide To Creative Cooking—And Other Dubious Adventures.
“So, chicken for dinner tomorrow?”
“No! Appa, please. I’m bored of it!”
You know how it is. If you are a meat-eater somewhat conscious of health, chicken is your fallback option. It is what you may eat if you don’t want to think too much or do too much. But I was taken aback with the vehement reaction, marked by furrowed brow, screwed-up face and raised volume. My seven-year-old is not a fussy eater, and the vehemence was interesting.
I should have seen it coming. I, too, was tired of chicken. Modern-day broiler chicken, as I have observed before, is a safe but sorry food option. There weren’t that many alternatives. She’s never really taken a liking to beef, (unless it’s in the form of a burger), fish is expensive during the monsoon, she already has lamb or goat two times a week, and she has an egg—two, actually—every morning.
Well, there’s the other white meat. When I was a graduate student in the US, in the early 1990s, I was delighted to see advertisements issued by the National Pork Producers Council saying as much: “Pork, The Other White Meat.”
Naive as I was—and as many continue to be—I believed pork was the same as chicken, nutritionally speaking. Even in my fog of naiveté, I did suspect problems with this reasoning, particularly when I watched the liquefied fat oozing out whenever I cooked pork. Of course, that fat is the reason for pork tasting the way it does. And did I love its taste—mellow, rich and smooth. What a fine single malt was to some folk, fine roast pork was to me.
Only after the turn of the century did it dawn on me that pork wasn’t any kind of white meat, and for health reasons I began to strictly ration its intake.
Then came my daughter, who displayed the same affinity for the meat. Her mother thinks this is part of my brainwashing, but the fact is she lists “pork fat” as her favourite food. I did notice, though, that the seven-year-old made a little mountain of fat whenever she ate pork and discarded the curry and most of the meat, proceeding to demolish the mountain with evident relish.
In one of her rare, reflective moods, she explained that the pork I cooked was “too spicy”. I suppose it was. She is very un-Indian about heat in her food, my little moppet—the lesser the better. The pork I cooked was influenced by friends who were Kodava or Goan, both cuisines that make liberal use of chillies or pepper.
While I do recognize that there is much to be said for the Western way of letting good meat speak for itself, it is hard for an Indian to begin cooking without reaching for the spice cupboard. It’s just the way we are. Before I start cooking, I first consider the condiments I have available and then the meat (or vegetable) itself. It is an instinctive reaction that I am trying to abandon in order to gain approval from my most important clientele.
I resisted the temptation to use the smoky, black spice packet meant for a robust pandhi (Kodava pork) curry. I ignored my bottle of home-roasted-and-ground spices. Surely, I could make my daughter a school lunch with no spices?
As it emerged, and as the recipe below indicates, it was not difficult. I only had to leave my instincts behind, which I did.
Proof of success would, however, come only after the blue BMTC (Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation) bus would disgorge my hyperactive child. When she emerges from her bus, the first thing she informs us about is the state of her lunch box. “I didn’t eat my lunch,” she says, when she has finished it and wants to give her mother tension. “I left only a little,” she says, when she has left most of it. Only rarely do we hear, “It was yummy,” which means it has been polished off.
So, when bus No.9 trundled up to our gate and I saw my somewhat dishevelled daughter get off, I waited with bated breath (children do that to you). She stared at me, slowly lifted her thumb, then suddenly grinned. Winning a child’s approval can be very satisfying.
PORK PULAO WITH GINGER-GARLIC AND VINEGAR RECIPE:
Half kg pork with some fat
1 large onion, sliced thin
3 tsp ginger-garlic paste
2 tbsp white-wine vinegar
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup white rice, washed
Salt, to taste
In a pressure cooker, gently heat olive oil. Fry the onion till translucent. Add ginger-garlic paste and sauté for 2 minutes. If the paste sticks, drizzle white-wine vinegar. Add pork and salt and mix well until the pork starts to brown. Add two cups of water, close the cooker and wait for three whistles. Reduce the heat and wait for another whistle. Let stand for 10 minutes, then release steam and open the cooker. Drain the liquidized fat and oil and place the pork in a rice cooker. Add white rice and water, roughly an inch above the pork and rice. When done, serve hot.
Chonira Nisha presently works for the Technology Division of Australia New Zealand Bank. In her free time, she loves to dance, paint, write jingles and poetry, and try new recipes. While her favourite quote is “Keep it Simple”, here Nisha shares a novel recipe -with a twist!
Bottle Gourd With A Twist
Bottle gourd-1/2 kg
Rice powder (enough to bind the mixture)
Chilli powder (to taste)
Green chillis (to taste)
2 large onions
2 medium Tomatoes, chopped
Italian seasoning (if available)
MTR Garam masala – a pinch
MTR Pulav masala
Oil for frying
Coarsely grate the bottle gourd.
Add salt , chilli powder, chopped green chillies, eggs, cream cheese, rice powder, Italian seasoning, garam masala, and one chopped onion.
Make patties out of the mixture, and shallow fry in a pan, or on a tava.
Chop the remaining onion, and fry in a pan along with the chopped tomatoes and a pinch of MTR pulav masala. Fry till the oil appears at the top of the gravy.
Grind the onion/tomato mixture coarsely and return it to the pan. Chop the patties into four parts each and add into the gravy mix. Stir for 5 mins ,
Garnish with mint or coriander.
This is a semi-dry dish that can be served with chappatis or rice.
Nithya Arasu Chindamada believes in living life king-size. Daughter of Arasu and Ponnamma, Nithya graduated from Jyothi Nivas College, and moved to Canada to obtain a Masters degree in Business Administration.
Following her heart, Nithya returned home to Bengaluru, where she works as a Business Development Manager at a MNC.
This extrovert says: “I enjoy every day of my life with passion for people, places, and great flavours!”
“I credit my Dad for my sweet tooth, as I watched him enjoying life with small treats that could make him forget the world”, says Nithya.
She introduces you to a luscious summer treat, ELANEER / TENDER COCONUT SOUFFLE.
Preparation time 20 min | Setting time 6-8 hours | Serves 5 – 6 dessert bowls
Fresh Tender coconuts shreds from approx. 4 medium sized tender coconuts
Tender coconut water – 1 cup
Gelatin – 5 tsp*
Condensed milk – ½ cup
Fresh milk – ½ litre
Method of preparation
Scoop out the tender coconut shavings from 3 – 4 medium sized coconuts and blend it until you get a smooth consistency.
In a saucepan pour 1 cup of tender coconut water, add 5 tsp of gelatin powder and stir until it dissolves well.
Heat the mixture for 5 min. until the gelatin dissolves completely and then turn off the heat.
Boil half a liter of milk in another pan, add half a cup of condensed milk to it and mix well.
Once the milk becomes slightly thicker, add the gelatin and tender coconut mixture to it and mix well.
Stir the entire mixture for about 5 min., turn off the heat and let it cool down.
Add the tender coconut puree to the mixture and mix everything well.
Pour the final mixture into desired moulds and allow it to set in the refrigerator for about 6 – 8 hours.
Garnish with your favorite nuts/ fruit/syrups.
I hope you will awaken your taste buds trying this! Happy Summer Time J !
* Substitute gelatin with a suitable amount of China grass/agar for a vegetarian option.