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Thursday, December 2, 2021

Delights Of Coorg

Food in Coorg is as delectable as the land. It gives tough competition to other cuisines in India and consists mostly of non-vegetarian dishes.

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Pradeep Chamaria
Pradeep Chamaria
I am a photojournalist. Love to travel to unknown and unexplored vistas. Since 1992, I make places desirable for other travelers through experiential Travel Writing.

INDIA, Coorg: India is a land of varied cultures and cuisines. Cuisines like Mughlai, Hyderabadi, Kashmiri, Punjabi, Goan, Maharashtrian have earned their names from the areas they belong to and have a pan India presence. For ages, these cuisines have satiated the foodies from all over the world.

But is that all India has to offer in terms of taste? Of course not, in fact, it is an injustice to limit Indian food with these popular cuisines. There’s a popular saying about India’s diversity; water changes every 3 km, and the language changes every 12 km. Perhaps, the saying should have included food too, which also varies from place to place. One finds different foods at every nook and corner of the country. It’s difficult to keep a count of these hidden and unknown foods.

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Read Also: Fragrant Food From Bihar

Coorg Landscape. Photo Credits: Pradeep Chamaria

One such food is Coorgi food, which is not so popular but gives tough competition to other cuisines in India or in the world. Coorg, located in the southern part of India in Karnataka state, is not the name of a place but a whole region, Kodagu consists of three taluks, Madikeri, Virajpet, and Somwarpet. Inhabitants of the place are known as Coorgi and before independence, the whole place was known as Coorg. The whole area is full of dense forests surrounded by bamboo, sandalwood, honey, cardamom, and oranges.

Papads and Chutneys. Photo Credits: Pradeep Chamaria
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The best way to know the food habits of the people, one must know about the region and its inhabitants. Since Coorgis don’t belong to the Dravidians race, they don’t have any similarities with other races in India. Therefore, most of the Indian traits are missing from them, and that includes food too. Almost all Coorgis are meat-eaters, mainly pork.

Bamboo shoot curry and Okra in coconut sauce, Photo Credits: Pradeep Chamaria

Exec Chef Ranjan, The Tamara, Coorg tells us that “Food in Coorg is as delectable as the land. Coorgis love alcohol and non-vegetarian food. Pondi Curry or pork in spicy and sour gravy made from Kachampuli is the most popular dish in Coorg. Kachampuli in fact is a thick concentrated juice from a local fruit black Kokum (Garcinia Gummi Gutta) and is the sauce base for most Coorgi dishes.”

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The fact that Coorgis believe themselves to be Kshatriyas, a community of warrior community gives credit to their love of pork. Perhaps this is the reason they serve and feast on pork during community feasts. Pork is the most sought after food in any traditional Coorgi functions.  

Pondi curry and Paputtu, Photo Credits: Pradeep Chamaria

Chef Ranjan further adds that “just like any other south Indian state, rice is the most staple food in Coorg too. Rice grows in abundance around Coorg and it is another inseparable part of their cuisines; hence most of the dishes are oriented around rice. Akki Rotti, a chapatti-like pancake, which is their staple food, is made of rice and rice flour. Similarly, another popular dish, Nooputtu, rice thread similar to Idiyappam from Tamil Nadu and Kerala can also be found on their dinner table. Paaputtu, which is a mix of steamed broken rice, coconut, and sugar usually consumed at breakfast, is also made of rice. At lunch or dinner, Coorgis eat rice along with at least one non-veg dish. “

Coorgis also love spices and coconut which are found easily in the region. They use lots of spices and coconut in their food. Green chilies are also used very liberally in their food.

Kadambattu – steamed rice balls, Photo Credits: Pradeep Chamaria

Vegetarians traveling to Coorg don’t lose heart; there are plenty of vegetarian dishes in Coorg. There are leafy vegetables like kembh leaves, edible colocasia, and fruits like jungle mangoes are part of their cuisines.

Chef Swaminandan, Madikeri Foods, Madikeri, says, “the important veggie dishes include Kaad Maange curry; made of wild mango, which has a more peppery tart flavour than regular mangoes, and is usually eaten during meals, Chekke curry, which is of made from raw jackfruit, Kembh curry made from the colocasia plant, the Kumm curry made from wild mushrooms etc. are a few other veggie delicacies. The bamboo shoot curry is also a favourite during monsoons and is cooked in red chillies, mustard and ground coconut and served with rice.”  

Along with the food, Coorgis love to enjoy hot cups of filter Kaapi (Coffee) during the day time.

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  • Pradeep Chamaria

    I am a photojournalist. Love to travel to unknown and unexplored vistas. Since 1992, I make places desirable for other travelers through experiential Travel Writing.

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