Mangalorean’s love food. The fact that most of us have triglycerides and heart problems is proof of how enthusiastic we are towards food.
On a bright Sunday morning, my friend called me and said “Anil I feel like eating crabs’ man”. My mouth started watering as soon as I heard “crabs”. Being one of my favorites, the very utterance, even though over the phone brought back memories of the entire process of catching, cutting, cleaning, and eating these magnificent crustaceans.
It had been over 16 months since I attacked a crab. Within half hour we both were on our way to the Cardiff Market https://www.visitcardiff.com/highlights/cardiff-market/) to check out the sexy crabs. To our utter disappointment, the market was closed. How could somebody close a central market on a Sunday? We were cursing the authorities and everyone else who was coming in between us and the crabs. Both of us, who were now sinking into depression, and still shamelessly dripping saliva from our mouths.
We did the next best thing. We went to a supermarket and bought fish, mussels, squids, and clams and came home to make it up for the crabs. Our story ends here- We cooked and we ate.
This small incident sparked a huge discussion over lunch and the topic of attention was the delicacies we Mangalorean’s savor. The list may be only one-tenth of what I know and what I have eaten. In this article, I intend to go around disturbing all your taste buds and would be honored if at least some of your mouths start watering.
Let’s start with appetizers. There are a variety of fries- chicken and fish being the front runners: Ghee roast, fry- rava and tava, deep, shallow, baked, barbequed. One of our very own and excellent caterers in Halealve “Nityadhara Caterers” has a copyrighted taste over “Surmai Masala tava fry”. I bet each one of you would be licking off the masala from the plates. Ooh la la.
These are all recent innovations, but for me, traditional dishes like Tendli-cashew nisthen, kuvalyachen bapath, chik peas mixed with coconut, sprouted moong salad makes a very healthy appetizer which prepares the tummy for the savories to follow. I think religious animosity hasn’t touched the appetizers yet. There is no appetizer which can be associated with religion, yet. I hope these delicacies remain secular.
There are a whole bunch of varieties when it comes to curries. Fish curry is the most loved one across the coast. Mangalorean oldies prefer fish to meat and some youngsters too. I remember, my granny used to wait for fresh fish to come home by 11 am and then go for the masala grinding procedure. There are a thousand ways in which fish masala is ground for different kinds of fish. Apart from fish, we have chicken and mutton delicacies Chicken, and mutton are usual dishes in which we have distinct flavors and tastes like “roce galli kadi ”, “ piyav galli kadi” etc etc. My mom makes a special curry out of chicken which we call “Sheetak Kadi”- simply figure licking. Usual curries like Bangde curry, tarle kadi, vaalchi baji – prawn mixed curry, though are not menu leaders, have a got a fan following of their own. I think Bunts rule the roost when it comes to curries, especially chicken curries- Koli Taal, Kundapur chicken, uppukari and many more.
It would be an insult, if I haven’t mentioned the variety of pork we have : pork bafat, pork chilly, pork vindaloo, sorpatel, pork salad, and many more. If at all, Catholics have to choose a community animal, there are no second thoughts about who the winner is going to be. Every function’s success is measured by how good the pork was and every caterer in coastal Karnataka strives to better the pork preparations every time they get an order. Every mother in and around Mangalore will give her son/daughter at least one kilo of bafat powder, when they are going abroad, even before thinking about basics such as toothpaste and brush.
Then comes our daily bread- something to dip and eat with the above. “Sanna”. Sanna (IDLY) with a tinge of toddy in it for better fermentation is a class apart just like Sachin Tendulkar. Aapam, a Kerala dish, but very well known in Mangalore is one of my favorites and goes well with any ROCE (coconut milk – chicken or mutton roce curry). I can easily eat 6 to 8 apams in one serving.:). Panpale ( Neer dosa) with chicken sukka or even kundapur chicken. Shevyo, Indian noodles which tastes awesome with coconut milk and any curry.
The menu which rules Sundays in our house is Bhakri-Dukra mass and Bhakri- Chicken curry. Bhakri is very famous in Maharastra and I remember pithla-bhakri on top of the Sinhaghad fort of Pune very vividly. Kori rotti, the thinner and more popular brother of bhakri rules many menus in Mangalorean restaurants at home and abroad. Fuge Bhakri , one more cousin of the Bhakri also is an equally tasty competitor.
Forgive me, I am blabbering. My brain is thick and not working.
Going back to traditional dishes, we have Pathrode- a dish made out of some kind of leaves. My friend was like “We, in India eat Pathrode twice or thrice in a year , but in Dubai we get it everyday”. Just a bit more concrete proof of the kind of gourmets we are. Khube-mootli- a tasty mixture of clams and mootli or bhakri, kaylole-roce, shevyo- roce, purna sanna( sanna which is made with a mixture of coconut and jaggery), dodalle panpale, aape( kind of gol gappe prepared from rice and jaggery) , bhakri, patholi ( seasonal jackfruit dish), manni, cucumber mandaas ( if it is baked in an oven, the completely crusted sides are very tasty)
Bunts in our area prepare some amazing dishes like jackfruit kadabu and Koli Taal( chicken curry) to eat it with. There are many other dishes like Daali toy, Kulith- Saar. Khotte- kurma.
I remember having breakfast every Sunday for at least 4 to 5 years in my dad’s friend’s house and I just cannot forget that breakfast. Simply superb. This aunt is an expert cook and an excellent organizer and whoever goes to their house, will not go out empty stomach. God bless her.
Our Muslim brothers and sisters make amazing biryanis and I was lucky that my sister and I had some amazing Muslim friends who used to invite us for Eid for that yummy biryani.
There is a complete syllabus of evening snacks, that I don;t want to venture into: Goli baje, chattambade, buns, etc.
I don’t know why I am writing this, maybe I long to eat all these dishes. There are a couple of websites that give out Mangalorean recipes, but I am 100 percent sure that this is one area we must venture into and make others realize how rich we are if we look into our kitchen. Almost all recipes are worth being spread across the world. India is a land of curries and I have no doubt Mangalore is the capital of gravies.
The only concern facing us now is a smooth transition of our delicacies to our next generation. Just like our language, our recipes have to be passed onto them, as they are a very strong part of our culture and tradition. The world is becoming aggressively competitive and foreign food courts are ballooning in every nook and corner of the city. I recently read an article on the same website which said Konkani style eateries are diminishing. So very true. I remember a small house near Gundmi, Sastan which served steaming hot idles, with a little home made butter spread on top of it served with a generous helping of chutney. Almost every one of you who has traversed the pothole-filled former NH 17 must be knowing this place. In an era of chicken Mcgrills, big macs, double crusted pizzas and chicken popcorns, taushyaso maandaas, pathrode, Khube bhakri and Manni should be given an opportunity to compete with the above mentioned.
All those food lovers , give it a thought. I think it is time we made SANNA stuffed with pork bafat, the next hamburger.