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Sweet and sour from Coorg: a pandi curry surprise!

2016 January 31
by Shalini

Sharp kachampuli, tart tamarind, and an array of citrus fruit are among the popular choices used to to add an acidic element to dishes in Kodava cuisine. They always serve as an accent, while preparations featuring ripe, sweet fruit are often served up in accompaniments to a meaty main dish.

Sweet and sour

Take mango and pineapple curries – both feature the familiar dark roasted spices commonly used in meat dishes, but with a sweet touch from the fruit, and a little added jaggery. We enjoy mutton pulao with  maange pajji – fresh ripe mangoes in a smooth yogurt base with green herbs and the sharp bite of chillis to counter the sweetness of the fruit. Again, meat, with a side of spicy sweetness.

Aside from traditional fare, there are also sweet pickles and chutneys, recipes borrowed from elsewhere, that routinely share the table with more traditional offerings. Spicy, sweet and tangy condiments like date pickle, lime chutney and  carrot pickle with raisins, to name a few, are among the popular ones.

So,  it’s not like we are completely averse to the idea of  pairing meat with something sweet and fruity – just not in the same dish! But, let’s not forget that favourite guilty pleasure – luridly coloured pineapple sweet and sour pork (or chicken) at the local Chinese restaurant!

Perhaps the combination of sweet fruit added to meat dishes has a somewhat limited appeal. Nevertheless, I’ve been experimenting with giving the popular pairing of pork and pineapple a distinctively Coorg flavour, by marrying elements of two classics – pandi (pork) curry, and pineapple curry. The recipe below is the result. I’ve increased the sweet, woody spices in the masala to give the dish a lighter tone. If I  say so myself, it is truly delicious! :)

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A fresh start

2015 December 31
by Shalini

As 2015 draws to a close, I’d like to thank all those readers who have been so encouraging and supportive of my blog for nearly five years.

Happy New year to all of of you and your families! I look forward to sharing much more with you in 2016. And until then, I’m signing off with this image taken in one of Vancouver’s beautiful public parks.

A fresh start
All the best for 2016!

Coffee cake for tea time

2015 November 30
by Shalini

As children, we were told “coffee is for grown ups”. That was all well and good, but that dictum apparently didn’t hold good when we were visiting our grandparents.

How to eat your coffee

A typical breakfast of akki otti, ellu pajji and kumbala curry was always rounded off with freshly brewed coffee. No one seemed to be particularly concerned if children were allowed any or not. When large pots of coffee were brought to the table at the end of the meal, naturally we helped ourselves. Perhaps it made a difference that there was plenty of room outdoors for us to burn off any caffeine driven bursts of energy.

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Autumn colours

2015 October 31
by Shalini

October left me speechless!

Looking for hearts of gold?

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Kaaké thopp: something to crow about

2015 September 30
by Shalini

When my friend Vindhya planted her vegetable garden in Vancouver earlier this year, she couldn’t have known that, come mid- summer, nestled among the thriving Solanaceae   -  tomatoes, chilli peppers, and eggplants – another member of the family, Solanum nigrum- had invited itself to the party, and was popping up all over the plot.

Commonly known as black nightshade, there’s a good deal of confusion regarding the edibility and potential toxicity of this, and related plants.  (If in doubt, weed it out! Please read and verify, before eating that weed! )

Kaaké Thopp

Many gardeners here might have just pulled the interlopers up without a second thought. Vindhya, on the other hand, was delighted to recognise the weed as a popular variety of potherb that she is very familiar with from gardens and hedgerows in Coorg, where, it is known as kaaké thopp (crow leaves). I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s because of the deep purple-black shade of the ripe fruit that’s reminiscent of the sheen on a crow’s feathers.

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