History of Coorgi cuisine: Coorgis, a warrior tribe from the southwestern part of India, have always been known for their love of pork (pandi). Their cuisine is predominantly non-vegetarian, owing to the fact that they always ate what was available off the land. There was little foreign influence on the Coorgis’ eating habits, and thus pork (from wild boar), jungle mangoes, jackfruit, kembh leaves (edible colocasia) and rice became the prime ingredients of their cuisine.
Coorgi cooks often reminisce about the typical preparations they came upon when growing up, but acknowledge that there has been a steady infusion of ‘new’ vegetables into the dishes.
Interesting facts about Coorgi food: Kachampuli provides the sauce base for most Coorgi dishes, especially non vegetarian ones. The thick, black pasty sauce is a product of the concentrated juice of the namesake fruit. In fact, most households have this ready to use, as it acts like a preservative to chicken, mutton and pork.
The use of green chillies is more prevalent than red chillies. The green ones cut fat in the body and are said to be healthier.
None of the meats cooked use any additional source of oil, except for their own fat.
Rice and rice-based breads are eaten with all dishes. Wheat is a recent addition to Coorgi cuisine and lentils are rarely used.
Here is a list of dishes that one can expect to eat in a Coorgi home:
Rice forms the base for Coorgi dishes. Nooputtu (string hoppers), otti (baked pieces of rice flour), pulao (mixed veg or non-veg rice) and kadumbuttu (rice-flour balls) are staples in every household.
Amongst the meats, pork is usually prepared dry, while chicken and mutton are cooked in a curry.
Seasonal vegetables like bamboo shoot (May–August), jungle mango (April–June) or jackfruit (September–December) will be served depending on which time of the year one is visiting.
Koovaleputtu is a savoury item made from ripe jackfruit or banana, steamed in banana leaves.
Kajaya is a sweet that one will often find in Coorgi kitchens. Made from jaggery and rice flour, these deep-fried donuts are delicious.
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The article was first published in 2014 and has been updated since.