The problem however is the common features of cuisines from the Karavali and the Bayaluseeme. There are several dishes like Huli, Tovve, Kosambari, Palya/Upakari, Gojju/Menasinakai which are common to both the regions. Looking up for something unique from that region was indeed quite an adventure. Besides, there is a lot of variations in the food habits of people hailing from the region. There are at least four major sub currents in this region, mostly depending on the community.
- Bunts -a major community speaking Bunt-Tulu are non-vegetarian and they prepare some amazing Gassis using Chicken and fish viz Kori gassi and Kane Gassi. In fact our erstwhile Bunt tennat used to go 100 kilometers every Sunday to fetch their 'Halwa-piece' Kane- the lady fish. That was my introduction to Mangalorean cusine I guess. Their fish fries are amazing. Fresh mackerels, sardines lightly coated with a spice mixture made of ground dry red chillies, coriander, black pepper, rice and shallow fried to be crisp. Then of course the Gangi anna/boiled rice with pickles and a palya. My mother used to get the starch water they discard after draining the Gangi rice to starch my school uniforms (this was before the era of instant starches available these days :) Since my father works for a Bank with a lot of people from this community we had some wonderful friends and they always surprised with one their culinary specialities. But now I could not quite get in touch with any of them to borrow some recipes. I have this on my agenda now. For extra info, Aishwarya Rai and Shilpa Shetty, Sunil Shetty belong to this community. They also operate a large number of Udupi restaurants and of late high end restaurants especially in Mumbai.
- Konkanis, mostly made of Gauda Saraswats, Chitpavans speaking the Konkani language, whoes cuisine is closer is Maharastrian cuisine than to the local one. Originally from Konkan region, they dispersed in waves to escape the persecution of the Islamic rulers and Portugese hundreds of years ago carrying with them their language, tradition and cuisine. The GSBs make generous use of spices including onions, garlic and consume sea food/fish. Some of their delicacies include Dali thoy, various ambats and sukkes.
- Shivalli Madhwa Bramhins : They are the custodians of the Udupi Krishna temple and speak Udupi-tulu which is a dialect different from the Bunt-tulu. They are renowned for their excellent culinary skills. In fact there was an era not too long ago when hotel boards announced that the cooks were Shivalli bramhins. It used to say "Bramhanara Upahara Mandira (Shivalli bramhanaru)". Dietary restrictions including a ban on onions, garlic, bringal most vegetables that were exotic in the context of Ayurveda. (Which means 80% of the vegetables on a super market shelf today) meant that these eateries were the safest places to eat for orthodox people away from home. They were originally the chefs who dished out all the Udupi hotel/Darshini foods. Their domination was complete till recent years. In fact even today they are specifically selected to cook feasts for weddings and other auspicious occasions. We had a team of Shivalli bramhins cook the feast during my sister's wedding. My god! what a fabulous time we had. I ate like crazy and tried to replicate their 'Saaru' and needless to say failed repeatedly. Each and every dish was fantastically prepared with a lot of love and devotion. My tongue is slightly partial to this sub-cuisine from the region. Ah! if only I had had enough time with those cooks at the wedding that I would have asked them for culinary tips.
- Roman Catholic: Mangalore also has a small Christian population with their own style of cooking. I do not actually know much about their food habit. I only remember the dinner we were invited to when I was a very young. My father's colleague invited our family for dinner. He was Mr Rai. We went to their place and as we moved to the dining hall for the dinner, my mom noticed a big frame of Jesus and a couple of candles. She was shocked. I still remember it took her a while to realise that she was about to feed in a non-Hindu household for the first time in her entire life!! But Mrs Rai was very sweet. I guess my mother was to go through a lot more 'shocking' experiences later on in her life and now she will eat anything vegetarian except snake gourd, any where without much qualms. I cannot not say the same of my grand mother though. She still remains suspicious of all store brought foods, including bakery biscuits :) I guess she is too old to change.
We will need,
Baby eggplants 2 cubed
Yellow Cucumber 1 large cubed
Green chillies 3-4
Saarina pudi 1 tsp (Substitute chilly powder)
Turmeric 1/4 tsp
Tamarind paste 1/2 tsp
Jaggery 11/2 tbsp crushed.
Ghee 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves 8-10
Hing a generous dash
- Combine the cubed eggplants and cucumbers in a pressure cooker or a thick bottomed pot with turmeric and a drop of oil. Cook till tender but not mushy.
- Throw in the Saaru pudi, jaggery and tamarind. Bring it to a gently boil. Simmer till the flavors combine.
- Prepare the oggarane/tadka. Heat ghee in a small pan. Throw in the mustard seeds, hing and curry leaves. Once fragrant pour over the vegetable-spice mixture, adjust salt and turn off the heat.
- Serve hot with rice.
This is my entry to the RCI started by lakshmi, Mangalore-Udupi event hosted by Supriya.