Pandi Curry To Puttus: Coorg Nestles Myriad Delicacies In The Lap Of Its Lush Locales
Image Credit: Coorg is known as the Scotland of India.

Surrounded by the scenic beauty of hilly terrains and verdant locales, Coorg is a place in heaven. The backwaters of Kerala might be a high point for many travellers, but Coorg is a gem in the crown of Karnataka that will surely leave you mesmerised. Also known as Kodagu, the district within which it resides, Coorg is alluring for travel and food enthusiasts alike. Overlooking wild forests and cultivating lands lie the breathtaking views of Coorg, resting on the slopes of the Western Ghats. 

The hill station also boasts a rich cultural heritage of temples and monuments along with a diverse nature’s trail. Connected to their roots, the cuisine and eating habits of the people belonging to this region are deeply influenced by the natural produce. The locals cook whatever is available around them, during a particular season of the year. For instance, during winters, dishes made from wild mushrooms and mud crabs form a part of their diet. In fact, meaty delicacies, which were once a special treat for festive occasions, have now become a part of the routine meals due to the easy availability of poultry and meat. Known for its coffee beans and spices today, the land has been cultivating paddy since times immemorial. This explains why rice forms an integral part of the Kodava cuisine.  

The regular everyday fare of the Kodava cuisine might be simple and basic but come festivities, the meat-based and flavoursome delicacies start thronging the kitchens of this beautiful hill station in the town of Madikeri. Although only natural flavouring agents and spices are used by the locals, the taste of their dishes smells of a raw freshness that makes it distinct from other cuisines.

Now that you’ve gotten quite familiar with the tastes and preferences of Coorg, it is time to gorge on the lip-smacking palate of the region. Here are some of the special Kodava recipes that you must try. 

1.   Pandi Curry  

Any conversation on the Kodava culture and culinary habits is incomplete without the mention of pandi curry. This dark-coloured pork curry is a specialty of the cuisine and one cannot miss out on its sweet and sour flavours. The use of a special fruit extract called Kachampuli lends the symbolic dish a dark hue. The marinated pork is doused with plenty of spices like cumin, fennel seeds, curry leaves as well as a locally-produced pepper which gives it a spicy and sour taste. This dish is the hallmark of Kodava cuisine and is generally paired with Akki Otti or Kadambuttu.  

2.   Akki Otti  

Sounds similar to roti? Well, it actually is. While it may look like our North Indian wheat roti at first, it is far from the truth. This unleavened flatbread is made with leftover rice and rice flour and is cooked just like our atta roti on a griddle. The akki rotti is a breakfast staple in the region, which is usually served with chutneys, curries and homemade jams. Stir-fried vegetables like palya as well as ellu pajji are some of the curries that complement the rice-flour roti really well.  

3.   Kadambattu  

As we’ve already established how intrinsic rice is to the Kodava cuisine and the people of Coorg, there’s another delicacy made with it called Kadambattu. Rolled up balls of steamed rice are accompanied by pandi curry, pickles and pajjis (chutney). Bearing resemblance to steamed rice dumplings, here is a recipe of how to make them at home.  

4.   Kakkada Nyend Curry  

Since seasonal produce is the way of life for the people of Coorg, their delicacies are also dictated by the season. This mud crab curry is a highlight of the monsoon season and is relished in the Kodava households during that time. Caught by kids in the paddy fields, the mud crabs are either stomped into chutneys or preserved for a thick and spicy curry. Here’s a crab curry that you might want to try.  

5.  Kodava Kanne  

Apart from the carbs and meats, lentils are also savoured by the people of this region. A dal curry is eaten in the name of Kodava Kanne. Leftover tur dal goes into the making of this thick and rich lentil curry along with coconut paste, grated coconut and some tamarind pulp for the tanginess.