Kodiyal Cuisine

A cousin was getting married, and it was occasion to congregate, partake in the hi-jinks, meet relatives and friends, and celebrate. I always looked forward to these opportunities to visit 'Kodiyal'-the local colloquial Konkani name for home town Mangalore-which gave me a chance to escape from the him drum of Delhi life, to generally let my hair down, and go 'bindas'. The lure of the sea that beckons all Mangaloreans to visit the golden beaches back home for a dip in the shimmering waters of the Arabian sea, and breathe in at least once in with the roaring waves, is always there.

What beckons me more, is also the call of the palate that excites my taste buds periodically, demanding a taste of the old local cuisine, tasteful memories that refuse to be forgotten or wiped out easily. And there is no time like wedding time, to make up for lost time and grab the opportunity to wallop and savour some of those remembered tastes and the traditional wedding fare-including the mutton-pollov' with the undissolved transparent strips of ash-pumpkin and mutton in roasted coconut curry, the tendli-moi (gurkin and cashew-nut) cooked semi-dry, and the chhanne(black Bengal gram) with grated coconut and spices cooked dry in a dash of jaggery…. all on 'Roce'day. And the succulent 'laithaon' (roast piggling) on 'porthaponn' day. In between, one made sure not to miss the delicious sea foods - the fried sungkttan(prawns), bangde(mackerels) and tharle(sardines)-and the dukramas(pork) preparations of sorpatel and indad(vindaloo), -- all of which, downed with volumes of 'fenni' that finally made the trip really worthwhile and memorable.

I always say, no one can fry fish like the Mangalorean-or for that matter, like the Goan, the Malayalee, the Bengali, or any other coastal fish-eater. More so in the case of the prawn, that delectable sea creature, which more often than not makes you puke when partaken in five star surrounding, despite the high sounding exotic names given to the dishes, and the exhorbitant prices one is made to pay for them. For it really needs the touch of someone who knows, to bring out the real tastes in these sea foods. That also goes for the 'khube' (oysters) and the 'kurlio' (crabs), the clams and the squid, for all of which I would sincerely advise-" go to the one who has the salt of the sea running through his veins".

I am sure different coastal people will have their own repertoire of fish varieties, but a childhood spent in Kodiyal 'midst fish lovers' has indelibly implanted in my mind the varieties of preparations that could be achieved through the catch from the local coast, whether it be the 'vior-ponda' mackerels in red masala baked with red hot coals over and under the vessel, the 'bazulle' sardines, the palm-sized slices of Seer fried or in curry, the 'pampletan'(pomfret), the Rounse and the Shevto(with its 'gaant' that as children we fought over), the 'Kaantobodi' and 'chhannaki-chi-shiro', the Yerlio(silver-fish) fried crisp or in curry, the varieties of fried fishroe(peri) that no caviar in the world can beat,--and not to forget, the Khanne(lady-fish)in 'roce' curry, considered fit for royalty. For those with the sharp native country tastes, the dry fish were also there, that left a fishy stench all around, with the smelly 'bumble'(Bombay-duck), the 'thatto' (Shark), the 'sondaley' and the 'galmbi' (dried shrimp)-all of which served as an appetiser with drinks, as a side-dish with congee, or a chutney when spiced up with 'meet-mirsang' mixed with grated coconut.

I am not too fond of sweets anymore, but there is a wide choice for those with a sweet tooth, as well. I remember, mother never forgot something new everyday when we returned home from school, and there was plenty to choose from. Be it the plain ''boal', or boiled green gram sweetened in jaggery, to an assortment of 'sukkurunde', 'patholli', 'mandaas', 'maalpuri', holige', 'saat', 'mysorepak', the 'mitai-laddu', -- to the varieties of 'halwas', puddings and 'paisams', including the 'maanni' and the festive 'vvorn'. The mouth sure does water, when I let my taste buds wander through sweet memories of remembered tastes of yester years.

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