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:
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.
Roopa Ganapathy is the daughter of well-known Baalo Paat (Kodava folk songs) singer, Chiyakapoovanda Devaiah. Married to Puliyanda Ganapathy who is a former two and four wheeler racing enthusiast, Roopa is a home maker who loves cooking and gardening. She shares a simple recipe of a family favourite, Ravé Undé.
Ravé Undé (Semolina Sweet)
Chiroti ravé 1 cup
Coconut grated 1/2 cup
Milk 1/4 cup
Powdered sugar 3/4 cup
Ghee 3 tbsp
Powdered cardamom 1tsp
Heat a thick bottomed pan, add the ghee and chiroti ravé and stir for a minute. Add the grated coconut and stir for a minute. Add milk and stir for a minute or two.
Finally, add the powdered sugar powder and mix well. Mix in the cardamom powder.
Roona Uthappa Ballachanda is a writer, and has an MSW degree from Southern Illinois University, USA.
Back in India, she juggles freelancing as a writer working from home, with the demands of looking after her young daughter. She says finding the balance between cooking healthy and nutritious food, while also appealing to a child’s palate, is a constant challenge.
She shares this recipe from her Bojava, Ballachanda Tangamma, who is an excellent cook.
Says Roona: “Bojava doesn’t like to stir out of her home in the village, and I am not able to visit her as often as I would like to. Begging for recipes over the phone and trying to recreate it in my kitchen is the best I can do! I enjoy this chicken dish, sometimes cooked almost dry for a starter, or made with a thick, dark gravy to be poured on hot white rice, and eaten with an accompaniment of chopped onions marinated in salt and lemon juice. It’s just as good eaten with akki ottis, or with ghee rice in place of the more popular coconut based chicken curry.”
Roona suggests that if you want a good amount of gravy, cook this in a deep utensil like a Dutch oven or a cooker. If you want a dry version, cook it in a large (preferably cast iron) skillet and evaporate the moisture at the end.
Chicken Curry with Thick Dark Gravy
Chicken 1 Kg, chopped and marinated in 1 teaspoon each of salt, turmeric and chili powder
1 big onion, thinly sliced
Curry leaves – 1 to 2 sprigs
Kachampuli, scant one teaspoon and/or juice of one lemon
¼ cup oil
Salt to taste
For wet ground masala:
Medium sized tomatoes, chopped – 3
Ginger 1 inch piece
Garlic, one full pod if small Indian variety or 7 to 8 big cloves
Medium sized onions chopped – 2
Green chili or bird’s eye chili according to taste
Roasted poppy seeds – 2 teaspoons
Roasted cumin powder – 1 teaspoon
For dry ground masala powder:
Coriander seeds – 2 tablespoons
Cumin seeds – 1 tablespoon
Mustard seeds, large – 1 level teaspoon
Cloves – 4
Cinnamon/Cassia bark – 1 inch piece
1 to 2 sprigs of dried curry leaves. (Sun dried or gently dehydrated on a hot tava)
Prepare the wet ground masala using the ingredients given above and keep it handy.
Heat oil in a pan and when it is hot, splutter the curry leaves and add the sliced onions. Cook the onions until they become translucent and begin to show brown flecks.
Add the wet ground masala and with heat on medium, fry it well. The masala should cook well, and the raw smell should go away.
Add the chicken, some salt, and stir well to coat it with the masala paste.
Cover it with a lid and cook it on medium low until chicken is nearly cooked. Check in between to make sure it’s not going dry. If it is, add water little by little as required. If you prefer to have more gravy, you can use more water, however take care that it doesn’t turn out to be too watery.
While the chicken is cooking, prepare the dry masala powder.
Dry roast all the ingredients except the curry leaves. Once they cool down, add the dried curry leaves and make a powder. The resultant powder should be almost black in colour, not too coarse, not too fine, just slightly grainy.
When the chicken is almost cooked, add the dry masala powder and let it cook until the chicken is well done and the masala powder has blended into the curry. Taste check for salt at this point and add more if needed.
Add kachampuli and let it simmer with the lid off for a few minutes. After you turn off the stove, for some extra tang, you can add the juice of one lemon (optional).
Serve hot with white rice and a suitable relish on the side.
Kajol 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.
Dry red chilli to taste
Lime juice or pulineer (kachampuli)
Salt to taste
1-2 tbsp cooking oil
Chop the thermé toppu and clean and wash it with cold water.
Heat 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.