Meal In A Pot: Chatti Choru From Kerala
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The idea of any leftover sauce remaining in the cooking pot after the meat has been scooped out, is one that feels like a lost cause. Enter chatti choru, a ‘dish’ where cooked rice is tossed in the pot that cooks beef, chicken or fish in Kerala to soak up all the delicious spices and oils that lace the pot. Traditionally, fish or meat curries were cooked a day prior to when they needed to be eaten. Since they had a considerably long shelf life, fresh rice was tossed into the cooking pot and served along with the curry as a meal. Served and eaten directly from these earthen pots, the rice or choru is ripe with the bold flavours and fat from the meat and spices.

Often served with a variety of side dishes like thoran (stir-fried vegetables with coconut), moru curry (a runny tempered buttermilk curry) and pappadams, the chatti choru has become a popular item featuring on restaurant menus that offer both, vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. In essence, chatti choru celebrates the spirit of seasonal, local produce and what’s easily available. It would also be safe to say that this could easily be India’s equivalent to a hearty Buddha bowl.

Image Courtesy: @thefarmchennai on Instagram

Not to be confused with another local Keralan delicacy of ‘pothichoru’, which is a pan-fried pearl spot fish placed on top of rice and wrapped in banana leaves, chatti choru is slowly gaining popularity amongst the new-age diner. At The Farm, an organic dairy farm and restaurant in Chennai, chatti choru is served with freshly caught seer fish tossed in basic spices like chilli powder, coriander, turmeric and salt and cooked with plenty of curry leaves, after which locally grown rice is tossed in the leftover masalas. At the 1947 restaurant in Kochi, chatti choru is served with a medley of fish, duck, beef, pachadi and chammanthi (thick chutney). Similarly, restaurants across the south have embraced the idea of serving combination meals such as this, that not only look colourful but also work well if you’re curious to try many things at once.

Because of its easy adaptability and versatile pairings, the dish is slowly beginning to gain popularity across the world. It has risen to the status of a trending food item in Kerala’s culinary scene. However, Anoop Kammaran, a blogger writes for The Imperfect Post, a food blog about the authenticity in restaurants saying, “This is impossible as regulations prohibit restaurants from serving anything thats not fresh.” Nevertheless, the experience of enjoying chatti choru at an eatery shouldn’t be dampened by how authentic it may be or not; rather, it is all about an experience. Eating cultures across India share similar sentiments – as is evident in the Kashmiri wazwan or the Gujrati thali where multiple components of a meal are served together at once.