Chefs don’t usually get a lot of time at home. I live in a family home in Bengaluru so I am spending a lot of time with my parents. It has given us the time to bond better.
At home, it is traditional Coorgi food that we are cooking. My mom is the expert at making it. I am helping her out, brushing up (my skills) and being hands-on like never before.
My father cooks once in a while. He has his signature dishes, like pork ribs. He has not had the time and we are not getting things very easily. So, we’re trying to cook with what we have and what we saved, instead of trying to go out and buy things.
The most famous staple Coorgi dish is a pork dish called pandi curry which I have been making for a while now. There are also a lot of rice accompaniments that we do that need a little bit of experience to perfect.
There is a flat rice cake called paputtu. It is like idli, but made with coarser grains of broken rice and topped off with freshly grated coconut. We made that for breakfast. Then there is a rice ball, called kadambuttu, which we are making at home.
We had preserved some small mangoes (sakkare guthi variety) in the freezer. We do that as a family; we get them in season and we keep them for the whole year. So, we made a mango curry with some mustard, curry leaves (just a basic tadka) with a bit of jaggery and some spices.
Once in a while, I whip up something with what we have at home. The other day I had a packet of instant noodles; I think it was a very mellow-flavoured one. I had some elk sausage in the fridge so that added some depth to the noodles. I had done it once before; it turns out great. I think a friend got the sausages for me from Germany a long time ago. That stuff is nuclear-war proof. Nothing happens to it (laughs).
Akki Roti with eggs and greens
- Ingredients: 2 eggs; 1 cup cooked rice (day-old is also okay); 1/2 cup rice flour; salt to taste; 1/4 bunch spinach (can use any local greens); 1/2 sliced onions; 1 dried red chilli; a pinch of mustard; 2 tsp oil; 5-6 chopped cashews; 1 dry red chilli; 5-6 curry leaves; a pinch of mustard; 2 tsp ghee
- For the akki roti : Mix the cooked rice and rice flour (in increments) to make a evenly mixed dough where you can still lightly see the rice grains. Make small rotis using a roti press and cook on a tava and finish on open fire to get the char.
- For sauteed greens: Heat oil in the pan, saute mustard, onions and chilly. Add the greens, cook till done.
- To temper: Heat the ghee in a small pan, add the mustard, red chilli and cashews. Heat till cashews turn slightly brown and crispy. Add the Curry leaves and finish.
- Finally, Make a soft scramble with the eggs, once all the other components are ready. Assemble the greens and scramble on the akki roti and garnish with the cashew tempering.
- Recipe by chef Kavan Kuttappa
Regarding work, we had just finished trials and were about to launch a new menu at The Permit Room and then this happened. So, what I am doing right now is spending the time documenting. As chefs, we don’t like to really sit down and document recipes but I have been getting more time, so that is what I have been focusing on.
A lot of focus has also been on taking care of the staff, which I feel is very important.
Overall, our company (pH4 Food and Beverages) has about 450 employees. In Bengaluru, The Permit Room has about 50 employees who stay in staff housing and Toit, owned by the same company, has over 100 employees.
The staff stay in accommodation that the company provides. We are cooking meals (rice, dal and vegetables with egg once a week) for them at the restaurant everyday and delivering it. They are not hungry, if nothing else, and they have a roof over their heads. [Ensuring] this has been a major responsibility and task.
In this series, India’s popular chefs and restauteurs share their lockdown cooking habits and recipes with us.
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