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.

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!



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.


 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)


Refined oil – quarter cup

Mustard – half tbsp

Garlic – 5-6 Cloves crushed

Dry red chllies – 3-4

Curry leaves- 2 sprigs


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)


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.



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.


  • 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



  • 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


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


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


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


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


  • 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


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.