Bolu huli

When the RCI -Mangalore- Udupi event was announced, I was all excited. In fact I had wanted to do something in this direction myself. My cousin was actually giving me ideas to host events to highlight the regional culinary diversity of Karnataka. This is a perfect platform for one such cuisine.
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.
So for the RCI event itself I had a choose something that was truly unique to the region. Not something like Mosaravalakki, tovve, kosambari... But something unique. I had to fall back on Krishnaveni and Sushma for reference. I finalized on making Bolu huli. Bolu huli literally means bald huli. I am not sure if it is the absence of dal or coconut that make this version of huli bald. may be someone can enlighten me on this.

Bolu Huli

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.
RCI-Udupi & Mangalore


Ann said...

Sounds new and interesting.

Savi-Ruchi said...

Thanks for taking my blog as a reference. Bolu huli takes its name, because of the absence of coconut. Shivalli Brahmins use coconut in all their dishes, be it simple palya, kosambari or any payasayam. We add coconut milk even to rasam :)
Thanks for updating my knowledge on various communities of Udupi/mangalore region. Nice dish. Badane bolu huli is a classic dish.

anudivya said...

That looks clean and nice! Love that golden color too.

Pavithra Kodical said...

Well Written, enjoyed reading your post. Being a Shivalli brahmin i enjoy food without onion also. Bolu huli looks delicious.

Kannada Cuisine said...

Thanks for the insight Sushma!! :)

Hari Chandana P said...

sounds lovely... wonderful click.. thanks for sharing!!

Lakshmi said...

Even I like this huli, looks so tempting Smitha.

Kannada Cuisine said...

Thanks Harichandana and LG

sudha said...

spinach cheese pie & spagettie are wonderful reicipes i must try it out.god bless you

Kannada Cuisine said...

Thanks Sudhakka...

Sudhir R said...

Very well written, crisp analysis of the costal and malnad food. This could form a platform to write on the regional varitions in the food habits of Karnataka. Just to add the two most fav. break fast for us in Bellary used to be dosa and menashinkai called regionaly as "Chele puga" and can you belive it Briyani at 8 AM.

Kannada Cuisine said...


Thanks.. I have been thinking of the regional cuisine. May be we can do a joint post on the local specialties of Bellary? I will mail you on that.

Dr.K.G.Bhat,M.B:B.S said...

Why did you miss Havyaka cuisine which again is excellent and healthy since it contains less spice and has many oil free recipe.We don't use oil even in pickles.(I am a Havyak of course)

Kannada Cuisine said...

Dr Bhat!!
Thanks for all your suggestions of course your comments. Oh! you are right I have omitted the Havyak style of cooking. (Of course I know from your name that you are a Havyak). Strangely enough I have a lot of Havyak friends but we never quite exchanged recipes. But I the wedding I was referring in one of my posts was that of my Havyak friend and the feast really put me into a toss... could not quite figure out what to eat when and what to expect. But would love to do a rerun of the meal with some brain storming before of course!!