The Kodavas, a martial race once defiant of Muslim rule, historically remained fearless soldiers. Their food habits reflect this cultural trait because the pork is not domesticated bovine but wild hunted boar, which is how the community would prefer it. With forests getting depleted and wildlife laws prohibiting game hunting, the Coorgis have, however, had to settle for less in their pork.

Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint

“Kodavas are basically agriculturists who get busy transplanting in the rice fields from June to August-end," says Kishor Cariappa, a media consultant and the moderator of a blog on the community. “So on 3 September, they have a festival Kailpold or Kail Muhurta where pork is consumed in abundance. Farmers need the extra fat and energy after the hard work for three months transplanting rice. Coorg is also cold and monsoon months can be harsh."

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“We are strict non-vegetarians," insists Naren Thimmaiah, executive chef at the Gateway Hotel in Bangalore, though, he adds, there are many vegetarian options also in Coorgi cuisine.

Also Read : Coorgi cuisine | Food That Never Boars

He says Coorgi food, usually spicy, has predominantly depended on local produce, whether it’s hunted or grown locally. So the vegetarians are partial to dishes like Baimbale Curry (made from bamboo shoots), Chekke Curry (unripe jackfruit) and Maange Curry (raw mangoes with spices and jaggery).

Coorgis are essentially rice eaters—the all-time favourite being akki otti (rice chapatis made from a dough of cooked rice and rice flour) and puttu (steam-cooked dishes).

“The basic ingredients of a traditional gravy for a Coorg curry," says Thimmaiah, “whether vegetarian or non-vegetarian, is coconut, ground with onions, garlic and a selection of other spices. In the past, coconut oil was used for cooking, also due to our geographical proximity to Kerala. But because of health issues, coconut oil is now used sparingly or not at all."

“Refined vegetable oil is the substitute, resulting in a loss of the authentic taste of Coorg dishes," he adds.

Pandi Curry (pork curry)

SERVES 10

Slideshow...

Ingredients

1kg pork

100g onion

20g garlic

30g ginger

20g green chillies

50ml Coorg vinegar

Salt to taste

50g coriander leaves

Pinch of turmeric powder

For the masala powder

40g coriander seeds

10g cumin seeds

5g cardamom and cloves

10g red chillies

5g cinnamon

20g black pepper

10g mustard seeds

10g poppy seeds

Method

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Roast all dry ingredients for the masala powder till light brown in colour and powder to a coarse consistency. Cut the pork into 1-inch size with the skin and fat. Marinate it with a dash of turmeric powder, salt and 10ml Coorg vinegar. Crush onion, garlic, ginger, coriander leaves and green chillies to form a rough masala paste. Cook marinated meat with masala paste and masala powder on medium flame so the meat gets cooked in its own juices. Add remaining vinegar after 15 minutes and a little water. Simmer for 20 minutes (this is a semi-dry dish that tastes better the next day).

Recipe courtesy Naren Thimmaiah, executive chef, Gateway Hotel, Bangalore.

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