Prasad Bidappa takes us on tongue-tickling Coorgi food trail...
I am a foodie and Coorgi cuisine is my soul food. We cook it at home, and I keep travelling back to Coorg to relish some of the authentic and elaborate dishes that are disappearing from the urban kitchens. Luckily, I have some fantastic and indulgent cooks in the family!
My mom was a fantastic cook and at mealtimes, our home was full of people. She cooked traditional dishes with an experimental flourish. Being in the air force she learnt a variety of cuisines, but both my parents loved Coorgi cuisine. My wife and I have inherited some of these recipes and we still eat Kumbala (pumpkin) curry and otti for breakfast.
The Coorgi Kitchen
Coorg cuisine is high on protein and is a combination of steaming, frying and roasting. We love ghee. For me, there is no bigger treat than otti (rice flatbread) with ghee.
Pandi (pork) curry with Kadambuttu (steamed rice balls) is Coorg’s most famous export. We love it, but it has overshadowed the wealth of cuisine we have, especially the vegetarian fare—the curries using cucumber, bamboo shoots, pumpkins and mushrooms; dishes that use raw and ripe mangoes and jackfruit, stir-fried leafy greens with with coconut and mustard.
The umpteen Corrgi food fests organized by some of the leading hotel chains rarely do justice to the food, you need a Coorgi kitchen to bring out the flavours.
A Revelry of Rice
We’re rice eaters. We have over 20 different ways of preparing rice dishes. There are preparations like neer dosas, rice dosas and akki otti (rice roti). It’s made without any use of oil and eaten with pumpkin curry for breakfast or with eggs.
Coorgis make a variety of puttus (broken rice dish). Kadambuttu, noolputtu, paputtu, thaliyaputtu—each puttu has a completely different texture of rice. And once a year, we make Madde Puttu which is made with a medicinal herb. It’s known to rebalance all the nutrients in our system.
Even our desserts are made with rice. Kajaya is a very popular Coorgi donut made from jaggery and rice flour.
My top five Coorg dishes
1. Pandi Curry and Otti: The most famous export from Coorg, it is cooked using zero oil except for the fat from the pork. The gravy is made using Kachampuli, a black vinegar made from the kokum fruit. The result is a spicy, sour, yummy dish.
2. Bemble curry (bamboo shoot curry) – A popular breakfast dish, it has tender bamboo shoots that are soaked in water for 2-3 days, and cooked with mustard, onions and spices. This is eaten with otti and ghee.
3. Chicken/mutton pilao with mange pajji (chutney): The rice used for the pilao is not basmati but the local, fragrant, short-grained jeerige sanna. The pilao is slow cooked with spices and served with a raita of ripe mangoes that are steeped in curd tempered with mustard and other spices.
4. Thaliya Puttu: This is the most popular variety of puttu in Coorg. Cooked rice and rice flour are steamed and topped with grated coconut. Since they’re bland, you can eat them at breakfast with honey or combine with curry for lunch.
5. Mudre kanni (horse gram gravy): This is a very special sauce cooked for almost 3-4 days with onion, mustard and a whole lot of other spices till it reduces to a dark chocolate brown mixture. It is then strained. It’s pretty cumbersome to make and is traditionally eaten with otti and a huge dollop of ghee. Mudre kanni poured over hot rice with a dollop of ghee is the best dish on earth. The only way we could eat anything at boarding school was by pouring Mudre kanni over it. It was quite magical and really saved the meal.
Looking for Coorgi food in Bangalore? Head this way…
1. Weekend Coorg pop up by Priya Aiyappa and KC Aiyappa
Off 100 FT Road, Near Hotel Imperial, CMH Road, Indiranagar, Bengaluru. Tel: 09008100544, 09845493688
2. Coorg The Restaurant
477, Shri Krishna Temple Rd, Near Karnataka Bank, Indira Nagar 1st Stage. Tel: 098454 93688
3. Wild Spice
FM Cariappa Bhavan, Residency Road, Ashok Nagar, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560025. Tel: 098803 81009
4. The Coorg Food Co
2nd Floor, Masand Esquire, Hennur Main Road, HRBR, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560043. Tel: 080 2544 1188
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