A lost recipe from Mangaluru for the festive season
A monsoon speciality with colocasia and sprouts that Google won’t tell you about
Mumbai-based Parinita Salian is on a mission to document her Mangalorean family’s recipes. A talented photographer, she has found a way to tell stories on Instagram on her handle, @parinita.s. A quick look reveals nei appams (rice fritters with coconut and banana cooked in ghee), pillowy kottiges (idlis steamed in jackfruit leaves) and her latest post is about the intriguing Padengi Tetla Gassi, a zero-oil coconut-based gravy with sprouted moong and colacasia leaves. The most fascinating part is that the leaves are not diced, but rolled and knotted. “This dish is extremely close to my heart. It’s made once a year during Janmashtami or Ganesh Chaturthi, which makes it extra special," she says.
One of the most contested topics in food writing is whether YouTube killed the cookbook. It seems like Instagram should be added to the list too. And yet, there are books in the works to document less well-known recipes in the context of community cuisine. It is a subject of deep interest for Mangaluru-based chef Shriya Shetty, who runs an artisanal bakery and culinary studio in Mangaluru with her partner and conducts online workshops on bread baking and recipe building. Shetty is on a mission to collect recipes, food influences and regional practices of the cuisine of Karnataka starting from the coast which will be compiled into a book.
Shetty reveals that both hog plums and colocasia are abundantly available during this season and various communities from Mangaluru use them in their cooking. For instance, catholic families make a delicious mutton and colocasia dish. They love the hog plum for its lip-smacking fruity and sour notes. She says, “While cooking, it is crushed so that its flavour is infused with the dish even as it absorbs the gravy. It acquires such an exalted status that people wait to get a piece of hog plum on their plates."
These dishes are complex and time-consuming: one reason why they are rarely made in time-pressed kitchens. The process of hand-rolling and knotting each leaf is time and labour-intensive; in the past when families were large, siblings and cousins would team up to make Padengi Tetla Gassi, says Salian.
'Padengi' refers to the sprouted green moong and 'Tetla' or 'Thetla' are the knotted colocasia leaves. The gravy is cooked with lots of coconut, seasoned with dry red chillies and flavoured with two different types of souring ingredients—tamarind and regional ambade (hog plums)—that lend it an appetising tangy taste. With no garlic and onion, it is considered to be sattvic and is a fitting dish to offer to the gods in the festive season. Usually accompanied with rice for lunch or dinner, it can also be a breakfast item if paired with kottiges.
This recipe is such a rare find that a quick search on Google only leads to Salian’s Instagram profile. She agreed to share it with Lounge.
Padengi Tetla Gassi
1 cup sprouted green moong, boiled
1 cup colocasia leaf knots, boiled (2 cups of uncooked colocasia will reduce to 1 cup after boiling)
3 hog plums, pounded roughly and boiled
1/2 coconut, grated
5 to 6 dried byadgi chillies
1 marble-sized ball of tamarind
1 tsp cumin seeds
1.5 tbsp coriander seeds
Half teaspoon turmeric
Salt to taste
1 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
Around 5-6 curry leaves
Blend the coconut, chillies, tamarind, cumin, coriander, salt and turmeric to a fine paste.
Place the mixture in a cooking pan and let it come to a boil.
If you want a thinner curry, mix in a little water. Preferably, add the water used to boil the moong, colocasia leaves or hog plums.
Add moong, colocasia leaves and hog plums and let them simmer for a few minutes. Taste for seasoning and turn off the flame.
This is an optional step for tempering. Heat the coconut oil, add mustard seeds and curry leaves. Quickly transfer this to the cooked pot of Padengi Tetla Gassi and mix.
FIRST PUBLISHED02.09.2020 | 09:00 AM IST