Far in the highlands of Kodagu, in the Western Ghats of Karnataka, resides a race of warriors whose origins have been somewhat shrouded in mystery. Armed with a unique set of culture and customs, the Kodavas of Coorg have made an indelible mark in various sections of Indian society. But according to me, what truly sets them apart is their rich and flavourful cuisine. There is a popular phrase amongst the Kodavas that no occasion is complete without kadi (food) and kulu(liquor), which to me, as a hotelier, strikes the perfect chord.
Like most South Indian cuisine, rice remains the staple in Kodava cuisine and you will find its presence in most dishes – be it akki ooti, the chappatis made of rice flour, chilli and onions; or the steamed rice dumplings known as kadambuttu or even paaputtu, the coconut rice cakes. Meat, especially pork, is the staple cuisine of people from this region. Pandi curry (pork cubes cooked in red masala and Coorgi vinegar) and pandi chootad (barbecued pork chops flavoured with orange and bird's eye chilli) are two signature Coorgi pork dishes. There are also the delicious koli mangyepajji (chicken curry flavoured with raw mango) and yerachyepepper dry (spiced mutton). Vegetarian can sample baimbale (bamboo shoot curry), chakkai fry (sautéed raw jackfruit with spices) and koomu bhartad, (stir-fried mushrooms with onions and bell peppers). In dessert, Kodava cuisine is famous for its akki payasam and dumroot halwa.
If this has piqued your interest in Kodava cuisine as it should, then do head to Dakshin at Sheraton New Delhi from the 21st to 30th June, to sample this fine Coorgi treat. Please visit the Epicurean for more information.