Must-Shop Indigenous Culinary Ingredients Of Coorg
Image Credit: Kachampuli

As a culinary researcher, I am not biased towards any cuisine per se; however, the cuisine of Coorg has been an aspirational cuisine for me to explore. In the very first session, I attended on the regional cuisines of India, the discussion on the Kodagu cuisine was the highlight of the session, my mentor Dr P.S Sandilya explained to us the uniqueness of the food from the landlocked and less connected place of Coorg, its rich forests, spices, and the coffee plantations, and I was transported in my imagination to the beautiful region of Coorg, which I visited in December this year. 

The only way to reach Coorg is by road. For centuries, the Kodava people have been self-reliant on their cuisine, depending on the indigenous local produce; the concept of slow food comes naturally to the region’s communities. Most popular dishes of the Kodagu cuisine utilise naturally grown ingredients making it not just sustainable cooking but also one of the fantastic cuisines of India. 


All around Coorg, you will find coffee plantations adorning the hill slopes. Not only can you enjoy the flavourful and aromatic coffees brewed at the local coffee shops, but you can also shop for coffee beans from different estates to take home. Coorg produces 40% of India’s coffee and is known to have a mild tropical flavour owing to the shades in which they are grown. The big cup café is one of the popular cafes in Madikeri, where you can experience the fantastic coffee from their estate called ‘Sandalkad estate’. Coffees are roasted in Situ, and watching the process unfold in front of your eyes is an enriching experience for a coffee enthusiast. Arabica, as well as robusta varieties of coffee, are available, which one can also experience growing in the plantations situated just 5 minutes away from the café. 

Markets in Madikeri, as well as the popular Kushal Nagar market, are beaming with shops selling coffee beans and powders from estates around the region, and makes for an ideal shopping experience to get hold of culinary gems from the region, known as the ‘Coffee Cup of India’.   


Most visitors to Coorg stock up on the spices grown in the region. Coorg is one of India's finest spice-growing regions, and one must buy a combination of different spices like pepper, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves etc. Most Spice sellers of Coorg grow the products in their plantations and have fresh produce of different quality, oil content, and aroma, owing to the time of the year they are grown in. Being locally produced, one can buy high-quality spices at low prices in Madikeri, Kushalnagar, and Virajpet. Do a thorough inspection and ask to taste some of the spices. The aromatic pepper and cardamom found in Coorg will undoubtedly enthrall you, and you will buy more than you were set out to. 


Coorg’s cuisine is bound to impress you with its unique flavours and high-quality, locally-grown ingredients. Your curiosity about the fantastic cuisine of Coorg majorly lies in the famed souring agent called ‘Kachampuli’. The dark fruity vinegar is extracted from the ripe fruits of a tree called ‘Garcinia Gummi- Guta’. Its unique flavour profile lends sourness to meat, chicken and vegetarian dishes alike and is used in dishes like Pandi curry and dry fry preparations like ‘Barthand’. ‘Kachampuli’s’ sour and astringent flavour combined with the flavourful spices makes for a heavenly combination, making Coorg cuisine one of the finest regional cuisines of India. 

‘Kachampuli’ is also known for its health quotient, beneficial for weight loss, lowering cholesterol, and excellent digestive properties. One must buy a bottle of Kachampuli to try cooking ‘Coorgi’ dishes at home and celebrate your love for good food. 


In an ecosphere like one of the nature-rich Coorg, bees play an essential role as effective pollinators, feeding on the rich flora of the surroundings. Resultantly, and with the constant effort of the beekeepers, the honey produced in Coorg has attained a special status, defining its unique taste, aroma and colour. Do not miss out on buying a bottle of ‘Coorgi’ honey to take home, along with the sweet memories of the picturesque Coorg. 


Chocolates are another ‘Coorgi’ delicacy one must indulge in. If you are travelling with kids, it's tough to ignore this decadent ‘Coorgi’ product anyways. Homemade chocolates are sold in every nook and corner of Coorg, with numerous flavours, stuffings, shapes and sizes; buying chocolates in Coorg is not just inevitable but is also a pleasure to your senses. Visit choci chocolate, a speciality chocolate store located in Madikeri, for an exciting experience gorging at the choco goodies; you will indeed be tempted to try the different varieties of spectacular tasting chocolates of Coorg. 

Other Products To Look Out For 

In Coorg, there is plenty of produce. Dry fruits like Raisins, Cashews, and Figs are of good quality in the region. Grapes and Oranges are of good quality as well. Grapes are used to produce homemade wines, which can be tried and then bought at very reasonable prices all across Coorg. Home-made wines come in different and unique flavours, from fruity to chilli and spiced wines. Bamboo shoots, also known as ‘Bimballe’, are grown locally and are a delicious choice for vegetarians to enjoy the ‘Bimballe’ curry, to be enjoyed with ‘Kadambuttu’, the steamed rice balls. ‘Sanakki rice’, the short-grained and aromatic rice grown in Karnataka, is used to prepare Akki Roti, Nool Puttu, Kadambuttu, Paputtu etc. One can also buy coarsely ground rice semolina called ‘Akki Tari’, which can be an ideal ingredient to prepare rice-based idlis, upmas, puttus, etc. 

‘Kaartha Masala’ is the regional spice mix of Coorg used in preparing traditional dishes such as the famed Pandi curry, chicken and fish dishes, the dark coloured masala is made of dry roasted spices of Coorg like coriander seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, black peppercorns etc. 

Of the many delicious indigenous ingredients growing in Coorg, the tradition of making pickles and chutneys is common to all households in that region. These amazing pickles can be bought from stores and markets, making it easy for you to relish the flavour of Coorg cuisine for a long time.   

Writing this article has been a tease to my palate, as it is tough to discuss such delicious ingredients without your mouth being flooded with water. Having enjoyed these flavours over the period of two weeks that I have spent in Coorg has been one of the best culinary experiences of my life, and I would urge you all to explore this fantastic region of Coorg and treat your taste buds with some of the finest culinary produce of India. Coorg’s weather and beautiful locations will keep your senses and soul satiated with natural goodness. Coorg is waiting for you! 

Sidharth Bhan Gupta, is a food writer travelling across India on a Cultural and Culinary Exploration.