Chikmagalur is a city and a hill station located about 250 km away from Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka. Situated in the suburbs of Western Ghats, the city allures many tourists all over the state for its good climatic conditions, coffee estates, farms and many more landscapes. While staying at a homestay in Chikmagalur one can relish the best malnad food in chikmagalur depending upon the season.
Prominently known as the malnad region, Chikmagalur is famous for its authentic mouthwatering delicacies, an exquisite treat for taste buds. The malnad food is exceptionally renowned for its local fruits and vegetables available throughout Western Ghats’ thick forests. A few of the essential dishes of Chikmagalur are Akki Roti, Kalule (Tender Bamboo Stems), Alubu (Natural Mushrooms), and Kesa (Colocasia Leaves), Gaddhe Yedi (Soft Shell Crabs), Gaddhe Meenu (tiny fishes), Kadubu, Menthe Muddhe etc. Let’s look into the details of the top 3 cuisines of Malnad:
Akki Roti is one of the critical dishes of each household of Chikmagalur. Every morning breakfast starts with the aroma of Akki Roti straight from the kitchen, which is a unique breakfast compared to other regions. The main component of Akki Roti is Rice and Rice Flour. It is unnecessary to cook a bowl of fresh rice to make the roti as it is prepared with the previous night or leftover rice from our lunch/dinner menu. The recipe goes as follows:
- Take the leftover rice or fresh rice in a mixing bowl and add a good amount of salt, rice flour and water.
- Mix it well, making it into a consistency of the dough and take a ball sized dough to make the roti.
- Flatten the roti dough balls in the form of a chapati (Generally, there are roti making machines available in the market to make roti).
- Cook the flattened roti on the Tawa on either side and cook directly on the stove flame until the roti is fluffed and suitable to eat.
Kalule (Tender Bamboo Stems):
During the monsoon season, Kalule (Tender Bamboo Shoots), is a dish that is a must for all people in malnad. It is a seasonal delicacy that is grown in forests and along riversides. During the monsoon season, the first rains influence the bamboos to protect the tender shoots collected before it turns hard. The hard outer covering is pealed until we get the soft mushy pale coloured bamboo shoot. The bamboo shoots are cut into slices and soaked in water for about 48 hours. It eliminates all the toxins and acids that the node contains. The dripping water needs to be changed within 24 hours, allowing the bamboo to ferment a bit, giving a tangy taste. The recipe goes like this:
- Wash the soaked bamboo thoroughly and remove any retained water.
- Add tadka with mustard, curry leaves, garlic cloves, and add the sliced bamboos to the pan.
- Add prominent spices like chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and sesame seeds.
- Mix everything well till the spices blend nicely with the bamboo shoots.
Note: Akki Roti is best eaten hot with a pinch of melted ghee.
Kesa (Colocasia Leaves):
Kesa (Colocasia Leaves) are one of the authentic delicacies of malnad food, with a medicinal significance with rich iron content. These leaves are grown in wetlands. Sometimes few leaves are not suitable for consumption as they might contain a few harmful toxins. But the experts quickly detect the leaves if good enough for consumption. In a few parts of Chikmagalur, this dish is cooked by tying a knot with the leaves, and a few people make curry out of it by chopping it into pieces precisely like spinach. The method of preparation is as follows:
- Wash the Kesa leaves and knot them or chop them into fine pieces.
- Add tadka with mustard, garlic cloves, green chilli, and chopped/knotted Kesa leaves in the pan.
- Add the required amount of salt, chilli powder, and coriander powder with a good lime juice. (coconut can be ground and added if needed)
- Cook until the medium consistency is retained.
NOTE: Tastes fantastic when served with Akki Roti and can be had with freshly cooked hot rice.