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Slow and steady wins the taste

An expert of Coorg’s Kodava cuisine, Shubha Thimmaiah Hemant, tells you how to slow cook

I grew up plucking fruits from our plantation," Shubha Thimmaiah Hemant recalls of her hometown Gonikoppal in Kodagu (Coorg). "We would wait for the mangoes and oranges to ripen." Having moved to the city nine years ago after her wedding, she takes workshops on Kodava food, which, she says, is "unlike other South Indian cuisines."

Kodava cuisine is known for its akki otti — which is made with cooked rice — rice dumplings known as kadambuttu and coconut rice cakes called Papputtu.  "Ours is the Kodava cuisine and most of the dishes are made of rice and the meat of choice is pork," she adds, as we think of pandi curry, pork cooked in its own fat.

koli chicken
Koli chicken

"It doesn’t need any oil, and our masala is heavy on pepper, which is available in abundance. The country vinegar called kachampuli, which is a thick extract from the kodampuli fruit, is what makes the food stand out." But, the technique that makes her food delicious is slow cooking, she says.

Shubha Thimmaiah Hemant
Shubha Thimmaiah Hemant

"Slow cooking is all you need to make a good curry. When you allow the meat to take its own time to cook, the flavours are well-rounded. Today, people don’t have time to cook for long hours and want to spend less than an hour in the kitchen. But, slow cooking can change a simple everyday dish." You can try this with any of your favourite dishes — the mixed vegetable in red gravy, palak paneer or even the cashew nut paste brown gravy. All you have to do is reduce the flame to low, and fluid content by half and allow it to be on the gas for at least 4-5 hours.  However, one should bring the flame to the highest while adding ingredients, as that extracts the maximum flavour. If ingredients and meats are frozen, they should be brought to room temperature before adding to the pan."

If you are trying this out, ensure that you stir the ingredients every 10 minutes so that they don’t burn.

Food writer and chef Rushina Ghildiyal Munshaw has a trick she’s willing to share. "Slow cooking takes at least six hours. If you are spending so much time on one dish, why not double the quantity? You can then store it for the next day. Increasing quantity will also enhance the flavour, as you add more spice."

Make your own koli curry

Ingredients
1 kg koli (chicken)
2 onions (chopped or sliced)
1 small tomato (ground)
2 green chillies
1 inch ginger piece
3-4 garlic pods
2 cloves (optional)
1 cinnamon (optional)

Grind the garlic, cloves and cinnamon into a masala
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder
2-3 tsp coriander powder
2 -3 tbsp ground coconut

Method
Heat oil and lightly toss the onions
Add the ground masala and the dry masalas till it secretes oil on a slow flame
Add the marinated chicken and fry for three minutes
Add hot water and cook till done
Add ground coconut and a 2-3 of drops of kachampuli or lime
Garnish with coriander leaves

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