Last month, an impromptu trip to Chikmagalur (courtesy Skreem and The Serai) left me at crossroads, unable to decipher if it is the coffee or the cuisine that made me fall in love with this quiant South Indian hill town. Tucked away in the lush green Mullayanagiri Range of hills in Karnataka, Chikmagalur is a coffee-heaven, a foodie’s delight and an offbeat traveler’s dream come true. Nestled amongst coffee plantations, it was a wonderful experience at The Serai, trying to understand and savour local delicacies and brews. Malnad
I had the pleasure of sampling traditional Malnad cuisine while at Chikmagalur, and must say this meal was the one of the highlights of this trip. Specially cooked by local ladies of the region, the flavours came alive on a banana leaf. This was such a delightful meal, one that touches your soul and makes you believe that it’s just food you’re living for. Served in a traditional manner, Malnad food is best enjoyed with your hands, leaving the forks and spoons aside. Even though Malnad cuisine is famous for it’s non-vegetarian delicacies, there were a lot of options for vegetarians like me. Malnad Malnad
On that table is a lot of food, all cooked with a lot of love that came across in how the food tasted. The ingredients used in Malnad cuisine are specific to the geography, hence they bring about a unique experience that is typical of that region. One cannot fully experience a place without diving deep into the culinary experience it has to offer and this meal was everything I could ask for, to get to know Chikmagalur better. Everything on that banana leaf was a slice of heaven but I have to mention that it was the dessert that still lingers on in my mind.Malnad
Here’s an insight into everything that I tried –
Harlikai Gojju – Made from the local Pomelos marinated. Malnad
Kosumbari – Soaked Urad Dal with fresh cucumber and coconut tempered in South Indian style.
Kalule Palya – Made from a locally procured fresh Bamboo shoot.
Halsinkai – Raw jackfruit
Bendekai Gojju – Fried tender Okra Gravy
Hurlisaru – Horse gram reduction
Kesa – Colocasia leaves
Holige & Thupa – Pancakes served with ghee
Kudubu – Rice dumplings served with a local chicken
Mavinhanina Gojju – Mini mangoes dipped in a sweet yogurt masala with tadka
Steamed Rice with Rasam
Khuskus Payasa, a traditional dessert made by roasted Poppy seeds, grounded and slowly simmered in a sweetened milky concoction – reinforced my belief that best is always for the last.
And then the bloggers and the masterchefs came together for a happy-picture that sums up how much the food was loved! Needless to say, I was still hung up on Khuskus Payasa, even after a second helping. Loved it so much that I could go back, just for another bite of that melt-in-the-mouth heaven.