INDIA’S BEST NO-FRILLS EATING JOINT IS IN COORG, SAYS WRITER Zac O’ Yeah

Believe it or not, Zac O’Yeah (in picture), one of India’s best known travel writers, has rated a nondescript restaurant in Coorg where Kodava food is served, as the best eating joint in India!

Zac O’ Yeah writes:zac

Although I’ve written about Indian food for 20 years, I’ve never been on a jury to crown the best restaurant in India. Perhaps that is a good thing. For,  if I were to put together a top list, it’d be full of no-frills joints that other food critics would look down their noses at.

But at the top of my list, I’d put the aptly named Folksy Food in Kodagu (Coorg), because having visited time and again for my regular fix of Kodava cooking, I’ve never once felt disappointed at the end of a meal.

The aptly named Folksy Food in Madikeri proves that often canteens serve genuine local fare.

It’s a tiny place in a nondescript shopping complex in Madikeri town — and with four tables it serves at the most 16 people at a time, typically office-goers in need of affordable lunches. Unlike restaurants patronised by tourists that showcase ‘foods of Coorg’ where chilli and oil are ladled on to satisfy undiscerning palates, here the fare feels 100 per cent wholesome and satisfyingly ‘tasty’.

Also, the menu isn’t pretentious or long-winded — in fact there is no printed menu at all. Apart from the basic veg meal, there are just four non-veg items subject to availability: mutton, chicken, fish and, of course, pork (the Kodava national dish).

Yesterday, I shared a meal with my wife and we polished off two bowls of rice; a house speciality called koot curry which is a local dish similar to sambar, but milder and loaded with succulent veggies of the season such as Mangalore cucumber; the loveliest of rasams with the right amount of jaggery in it to offset the pungency; a dry dish of curried bhindi; fried fish; pork (half plate); and chicken (half plate).

The rice at Folksy Food is always light and fragrant, freshly steamed, and the veggies are delicately prepared — nothing like the greasy mushes and dry rice that are all too frequently passed off as vegetarian cookery in budget restaurants — while the tender pork morsels, with a few chunks of the fatty stuff mixed in, are fried in a peppery semi-gravy, the local black vinegar kachampuli giving it a distinctive tang. The chicken is another speciality; richly coated in a pungent masala, the meat simply falls off the bone. The plump mackerel, the most favoured fish locally, has a crispy outside with a hint of coconut oil, and each bite melts in the mouth. Any day at lunchtime (closed on Sundays and public holidays) there are a large number of eager eaters, so it isn’t much of a place to linger on at. Also, there are no desserts, coffee or brandy that might make you want to loiter after you’ve licked off the last specks of gravy from your plate. But the family who owns it (Cholapanda Arasu and Leelavathi) are chatty and cheerful folks, so it isn’t one of those brusque eat-and-go affairs either. More likely it is the envious face of some guest-in-waiting — hoping to score a table — that eventually makes you stop licking plates.

It must be added for the protocol that I’ve nothing against five-stars and never say no to a lavish repast (especially if somebody else is footing the bill). But thanks to my peripatetic lifestyle, I’ve found that the best canteens showcase genuine local cuisine, as close to home-cooking as it gets — and the simpler the eatery, the more dependable the eating experience, and vice versa.

So if Folksy Food was in, say, France and did exactly the same thing and as consistently as it does but in French, it would be written about in guidebooks and perhaps have a Michelin star. But despite being located in a popular tourist area, Folksy has stayed off the foodie radar.

It is perhaps for the better as such a tiny eatery couldn’t handle an onslaught of gourmets flying in from across the globe. Maybe I am making a mistake by writing about it, but I trust you to keep the secret. Further, if you know of a fantastic but largely unknown canteen devoted to homely food anywhere in India, please share all details with me.

Source:

http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/blink/takeaway/is-there-a-best-indian-restaurant/article9196912.ece

 

Thermé toppu (tender shoots of certain varieties of wild ferns)

kajol-pixKajol Maleyanda is a singer, lyricist and writer. This multi-talented 23 year old also speaks seven languages! On cooking, she says: “Cooking isn’t something that I do on a regular basis, but when I do, I give my 100 percent into it.”

Kajol shares a recipe for stir fried “Thermé toppu”, the tender shoots of certain varieties of wild ferns that grow in Coorg.

Thermé toppu 

Ingredients:

  • Thermé toppu
  • Mustard seed
  • Dry red chilli to taste
  • Chopped onions
  • Lime juice or pulineer (kachampuli)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1-2 tbsp cooking oil

 Method:


Chop the thermé toppu and clean and wash it with cold water.

therme-picHeat the oil in a vessel. (Add oil according to the quantity of thermé toppu.)
Add mustard, chopped onions and red chilly and sauté until it turns translucent.
Add the chopped therme toppu and mix well.


Add salt as per taste and cover the vessel for 15-20 minutes. Make sure you sauté it every now and then.


Add pulineer as per taste when the thermé toppu is hot and ready to serve to serve and mix well. If you’re adding lime juice, let it cool and then add as per taste and mix well.

KARJIKAI

facebookPemmadiyanda Jayanthi Mahesh loves adventure and the outdoors. Her interests include rock climbing, trekking, and rifle shooting, all of which have helped earn her a ‘C’ (advanced) Certificate in the National Cadet Corps.

Jayanthi also loves to cook, and particularly enjoys the uniqueness of Coorg dishes. She shares a recipe for Karjikai.

 KARJIKAI (Sweet Puffs)

Ingredients:

For the Dough

1 cup  Maida/All purpose flour
¼  cupFine sooji/ Semolina / Chiroti rava
1 tsp       Rice flour (heaped)
1 tbsp    Hot ghee
¼ cup        Milk
Salt a pinch
Oil for frying

 For the filling:

½  cup  Dry Coconut / Copra grated
¾ cupJaggery powdered / Sugar ( or to taste )
¼  cupBlack sesame seeds / kari ellu 
1 tbsp    Poppy seeds / khus khus
One podCardamom / elaichi
( Optional)

Sweet khova and dry fruits, finely chopped and fried in ghee

 

 Special equipment: Karjikai moulds. These moulds are readily available in the market.

 METHOD:

The Dough

karjikaiPut the flour and semolina in a wide bowl. Heat the ghee and pour it over. Add a little milk and water and mix well. Knead it well to form a stiff dough.

Allow the dough to sit for 20 – 30 minutes, covered with a wet cloth.

The Filling:

Put the sugar/jaggery in a bowl. Add grated coconut and crushed cardamom, followed by the fried sesame seeds and poppy seeds.

Optionally, you can add dry fruits like raisins, crushed and fried cashews, and almonds along with sweet khova. Mix them well and make small 2 balls.

Now take pieces of the dough and make  balls of the same size. Roll the balls out flat and spread it on the karjikai mould. Place the filling in the middle and close the mould. Remove the extra dough from the sides.

In the same way prepare, karjikai with the remaining dough and filling and line them up on a tray.

Place a kadhai on the stove and heat enough oil to immerse the karjikai when frying. Add three to four spoons of ghee to the oil for aroma. When the oil is hot, add the karjikai one by one into the oil. Fry till golden brown and crispy.

Karjikai is ready to relish!

 

 

MUDRE KANNI (Horse Gram Sauce)

Kandarthanda Divya Madaiah is a professional caterer, who also caters traditional Coorg lunches for the guests at Orange County Resort in Coorg. divya image

Divya says this Mudre Kanni recipe is a tribute to her late mother-in-law, Sulochana Bopanna, from whom she learnt how to prepare the dish.

Ingredients:

 Horse gram- 1 kilo

Water – 2.5 litres

Salt to taste

Jaggery powdered – 1 cup

Tamarind pulp – quarter cup (1 lime size)

Black pepper powder – 1 teaspoon

Jeera powder – 1 teaspoon

Chilli powder – 1 teaspoon

Turmeric – quarter teaspoon

Onion – 1 medium sized (to be roasted on fire along with the peel)

 Tempering:

Refined oil – quarter cup

Mustard – half tbsp

Garlic – 5-6 Cloves crushed

Dry red chllies – 3-4

Curry leaves- 2 sprigs

 Method:Sauce

Pressure cook the horse gram for 45 minutes. After 2 whistles let it simmer. mudre photo

Drain the cooked horse gram. Put the drained liquid back on the stove and let it boil. Now add the dry ingredients (salt, chilli powder, jeera powder, turmeric and black pepper powder).

In a mixer, put half a cup of cooked horse gram along with the roasted onion and blend it into a fine paste. Add this to the boiling sauce (it adds thickness to the sauce). Add the tamarind pulp and the jaggery.

 Let it boil till it thickens to get a sauce consistency.

 Method :Tempering

Heat oil, add mustard, followed by crushed garlic and fry till it turns golden.

 Add whole red chillies, curry leaves, and pour it into the sauce.

 Best to be eaten with Akki Otti (rice roti)

Note:

Horse Gram can be soaked overnight to reduce the time taken for it to cook.

Mudre Kanni tastes best if it is done on a wood fire.

 

 

COORG RECIPES FB GROUP MEMBERSHIP CROSSES 4,000

coorg recipesFrom: P.T. Bopanna, Administrator

Facebook group www.www.coorgrecipes.com

 Hello Friends,

 I am delighted to inform that the number of members in my Facebook group www.www.coorgrecipes.com has crossed 4,000. What is of interest is the fact that the majority of members in the group are women!

 Basically I started the group four years ago to promote my website www.www.coorgrecipes.com. Since more women than men joined the group, I had to tailor the content to suit the women members.

 It is not easy to generate content for the group posts. I wish the members could help me by contributing Coorg-centric content involving food, culture, etc.

 Though it takes a lot of time and effort to generate content, I have the satisfaction of promoting and highlighting the achievements of many young men and women from Coorg.

 Looking forward to your continued cooperation.

 Best wishes,

Bopanna 

 

 

 

 

 

Pandi Curry (Pork Curry)

Mandeda Pratiksha Muthappa, a young graduate of Mount Carmel College has a wide range of interests, including dancing, yoga, aerobics, athletics, horse-riding, painting, and choir singing. With her flowing tresses, she adds modelling to the list, appearing in advertisements for hair tonic. web pratiksha

Pratiksha is also passionate about cooking, and shares her favourite recipe, the Coorg classic, pandi curry. Says Pratiksha: “I learnt the recipe of pandi curry from my mother, Beena, who has always been a pillar of support and inspiration. Not to forget my father, who taught me how to cook various dishes he has learnt over the years.”

 Pandi Curry Recipe

“Pandi Curry” or pork curry is a traditional dish in Coorg cuisine. This dish is specially cooked with freshly ground masala and uses a distinct sour ingredient called “kachumpuli”, an extract of a fruit grown locally. This gives a unique taste and colour to this dish. Pandi curry is popularly accompanied with “akki otti” (rice roti), “kadumputtu” (rice balls) and can also be eaten with other rice preparations.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Pork – 1 kg
  • Kachumpulli (or tamarind taste) – according to quantity of pork and taste
  • Coriander – for garnish
  • Curry leaves – for garnish
  • Lime – for garnish
  • Salt – to taste

 

For wet masala:pandi curry image

  • Sambar onions – 250 grams
  • Garlic – 150 grams
  • Ginger – 50 grams
  • Coriander leaves – 1/2 bunch
  • Green chillies – 4 to 5
  • Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Water – 1/2 cup

 

For dry masala:

  • Coriander seeds – 6 teaspoons
  • Cumin seeds – 5 teaspoons
  • Pepper corns – 2 teaspoons
  • Cloves – 5 to 6
  • Cinammon – 1 piece
  • Elaichi (cardamom) – 3 to 4
  • Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Methi (fenugreek) seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Curry leaves – 1 sprig

 

METHOD:

  • Wash the pork and keep aside.
  • Grind all the wet masala ingredients with 1/2 cup of water to form a fine paste and keep aside.
  • Roast the dry masala ingredients till brown and grind it to fine powder.
  • Put in the wet masala in a vessel and cook for a while, till a nice aroma comes.
  • Add pork pieces along with the ground dry masala powder, mix well and allow to cook for 5 minutes. Add salt according to taste.
  • Add 2-3 cups of water and cook till the meat is well done.
  • Finally, 3 teaspoons of kachumpulli (or tamarind paste), cover and cook for 5-10 minutes.
  • Sprinkle with finely chopped coriander and curry leaves. Serve with lime.

 

Berambutt & Thambutt undé

A passion for cooking is in the DNA of Thapanda Shruthy Ganapathy. She draws inspiration from her mother, Chovanda Rathi, who caters traditional Coorg snacks for functions. She holds a Masters degree in Psychology. shruthy web

Shruthy currently lives in Cameroon, where she takes orders for cakes, cookies and desserts.

Shruthy shares two recipes – Berambutt and Thambutt, traditional Coorg sweet dishes especially prepared during the harvest festival of Puthari.

Thambutt podi (powder) is the basic ingredient.

Thambutt podi

Ingredients:

  • 250gms par-boiled rice
  • 1/2 tsp methi seeds
  • pinch of cardomom seeds

Method:

In a pan or griddle, roast the par-boiled rice, on a medium flame, until it sputters and the colour changes to dark brown. At the end, add methi and cardamom seeds, and put off the flame, Allow to cool a little, then make a fine dry powder. You can store the powder in a dry airtight container.

Berambutt payasa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup grated jaggery
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • grated coconut
  • 1/4 cup thambutt podi

Method:

In saucepan make syrup with water and jaggery. Let it boil, keep stirring until you get string consistency.

To this, add sesame and grated coconut, then immediately start adding the thambutt podi, a little at a time.

Keep stirring until it reaches a firm but spreadable consistency. This can now be decorated with grated coconut and allowed to cool .

Berambutt is ready to taste.

Thambutt undé

This is quite similar to Berambutt unde2

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup grated  jaggery
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp coarsely powdered fried channa dal
  • grated coconut
  • 1/2 cup thambutt podi

Method:

In sauce pan make syrup with water and jaggery.  Let it boil, keep stirring until you get string consistency.

To this add sesame, grated coconut and fried channa dal.  Stir well, then immediately begin adding podi a little at a time, and keep stirring until it becomes a thick dough.

At this stage you can add ghee to taste.

Make small balls of the dough and allow to cool.

Tasty thambutt undé is ready.

 

 

 

 

Savitha Poovaiah’s Halbai

This month’s recipe is shared by Mandepanda Savitha Poovaiah.  Besides being passionate about wildlife photography, Savitha is also fond of cooking. Her culinary skills are well known in her family circles.

 profile1 (1)

Savitha says Halbai, has always been one of her favourite sweet dishes .It can be made using different cereal grains, like wheat and ragi. This recipe using rice is very simple to prepare, but requires some patience due to the long stirring involved. Try it out – your patience will be rewarded!

Halbai

Cook time: 45 minutes (apart from soaking the rice)

 Ingredients:

   

  • 1 cup rice, washed and soaked for 4-5 hours
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • Jaggery to taste
  • 4 tbsp ghee
  • 2-3 green cardamom, powdered
  • 20 cashew nuts
  • pinch of salt
  • saffron to garnish (optional)

Method:

In a mixer jar, grind the soaked rice along with the cashew nuts to a fine paste. halbai2

Heat a heavy based kadai, add the ground paste with 2 tbsp ghee, coconut milk,   cardamom powder and a pinch of salt. Stir for sometime and add jaggery to taste.

 Keep on stirring the mixture ensuring no lumps are formed.

 Add another 2 tbsp ghee while stirring constantly. Cook the mixture until it thickens and leaves the sides of kadai. This may take around 30 minutes.

 Grease a plate with ghee and spread the mixture evenly with a knife or spatula.

 Let it cool and then cut the halbai into your favorite shape.

 

 

 

Interview: Ranee Vijaya Kuttaiah, author of ‘Cuisine from Coorg’

By P.T. Bopanna ranee kuttaiah

The credit for putting the spotlight on Coorg cuisine goes to the highly talented Ranee Vijaya Kuttaiah, famously known as the ‘queen of cuisines’.

Her book ‘Cuisine from Coorg’, a treasure house of mouth-watering Coorg delicacies, has been going into reprint for the last 15 years.

The multi-talented Ranee is an accomplished Bharatanatayam and Kathakali dancer, and has donned many roles in her eventful life. She had worked as a lecturer at the Maharani College, Bengaluru, and later in the public relations department of the Ford Motor Car Company, New York.

A top-of-the-line culinary expert, she taught the intricacies of Coorg cuisine to the chefs of the Taj Gateway and Taj West End Hotel, Bengaluru. Bursting with energy all the time, she is an avid golfer and writer of short stories. Ranee has also written books on Tamil Nadu and Karnataka cuisines.

Daughter of Kotera Chinnappa, a Kodagu politician, Ranee learnt cooking from her mother, Akkavva. Ranee, married to Nadikerianda Kuttaiah, a well-known name in Tamil Nadu plantation industry, learnt from her late husband, the niceties and refinement of Coorg cuisine.

After marriage, Ranee lived the good life in the Nilgiris, till her husband died tragically when he was young.

Talking to this writer, Ranee regretted that many homes in Coorg had stopped making Coorg dishes in their original form and distorted the cooking style. For instance, she noticed people using butter/cream for Koli Barthad.

Basically, she said Coorg or Kodava cuisine was not very spicy. “We never used onions much and tomatoes were seldom used.”

Ranee says the Kodavas (Coorgs) should stick to the original cuisine. “Even to this day, I prepare fish curry in a mud pot,” she notes. coorg ranee

She is happy to note that original Kodava dishes are still prepared in the Coorg wedding houses.

Ranee wants the mothers to teach their daughters how to cook Kodava food in the original form, instead of experimenting with the Coorg cuisine which leads to distortion.

Ranee is a quintessential Kodavathi who still dressed up in the traditional long-sleeved jacket and Kodava style sari. She is the cynosure of all eyes in high society parties.  

 

 

Chikklundé (Sweet puffed rice dumplings)

 Chembanda Reshma Bheemaiah is a real ambassador for Coorg. She runs a home stay, where she invariably serves Kodagu food to her guests.

 reshma passport

For breakfast, it is paputtu, thalayaputtu and otti.  For lunch and dinner, it’s noolputtu, belath neer, kadambutu and non-vegetarian dishes prepared in Kodagu style.  

 Reshma says: “It feels so nice when visitors ask me for the recipes and write them down. They also want to buy the ingredients here in Coorg. I notice that popular items to take back are kachampuli, black masala, and paputtu thari, along with wine and spices.”

 Reshma shares her recipe for a popular sweet- Chikklundé. 

Chikklundé is one of the unique Kodagu sweets which is enjoyed by kids and elders alike. It is normally prepared during festive occasions, and also during the wedding season. Chikklundé has pride of place in the goodie hamper which a bride carries with her when she returns from her mother’s house.

The main ingredient for the filling is puffed rice (nell pori). To make this puffed rice, paddy (unhusked rice) is spread on the floor for a day to gather some moisture, then roasted in a clay pot over a wood fire. The heat drives the moisture in the grain out, causing the rice to puff up, much like popcorn.

 

Chikklundé  (Sweet puffed rice dumplings)

 Ingredients:

 

  • Puffed rice                        750 Gms
  • Brown sesame seeds          25 Gms
  • Roasted gram (channa dal)     50 Gms
  • Grated coconut                 75 Gms       
  • Salt                                   to taste
  • Jaggery                            100 Gms           
  • Oil                                     for frying
  • Turmeric powder            ¼ teaspoon          
  • Maida(refined white flour)     150gms
  • Water                                     for the batter         

 

 Method of Preparation: chikkalunde pic

  

  1. The proportion of puffed rice (nell pori) to the other ingredients is normally 3:1

 

  1. Sun dry the puffed rice and crush or grind coarsely.

 

  1. Grind the grated coconut, sesame seeds and roasted gram coarsely, adding a pinch of salt.

 

  1. Melt the jaggery, strain it to remove dirt particles and reduce to make a thick syrup.

 

  1. Mix the ground puffed rice and the rest of the dry ingredients together.

 

  1. Add the jaggery syrup which will bind the ingredients, and mix well.

 

  1. Using your hands, and pressing firmly, shape the mixture into small balls.

 

  1. Meanwhile prepare a batter with the maida, turmeric powder, and as much water as needed to make bring it to a coating consistency.

 

  1. Dip the dumplings in the batter and deep fry till they turn golden brown.