reena fbWhat’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:


reena kadabu mutton curryIngredients to marinate


  • 1kg mutton  
  • 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 cloves
  • 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.

Goes well with Kayi Kadboo









Naren Thimmaiah BloreChef 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.

garam masalaIt’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:

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.

Picture courtesy: Pinterest/

kachumpuli“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.

Picture courtesy: Pinterest/

Source: Courtesy India Today



samar cookingReproducing 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.

Samar writes:

“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.



Serves 2-3


 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


pork pulaoIn 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 

 Ingredients:nisha somayya edited

 Bottle gourd-1/2 kg

  • 2 eggs
  • Cream cheese
  • Rice powder (enough to bind the mixture)
  • Salt
  • 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 tIMG_20170401_152254_1491040410649he 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 webNithya 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.

dishHeat 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.

Ravé Undé (Semolina Sweet)

roopa 1Roopa 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


rave unde photoHeat 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. 

 Make tiny balls of the mixture.

 Ravé undé is ready.

 Tastes delicious when cool!


Roona Uthappa Ballachanda is a writer, and has an MSW degree from Southern Illinois University, USA.

 roona-picBack 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.”

chicken-1Roona 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.

chicken-4Dry 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.


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.



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 


  • Thermé toppu
  • Mustard seed
  • Dry red chilli to taste
  • Chopped onions
  • 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.

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.


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)


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.


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!