Koddel is a coconut-based curry from the coastal regions of Karnataka. This koddel, a staple recipe in Chef Ashwini Pai’s family, uses the fresh winter vegetable, kooka or Chinese potato. Kooka is a common ingredient in Mangalorean and Konkani cuisines.
As Ashwini recalls, Nalini, her grandmother – originally from Mangalore and now living in Mumbai – waits all year for winter to arrive and bring kooka with it. Nalini uses her custom-stitched cloth bag to remove the tough and sticky skin of the kookas: she adds the potatoes to the bag and hits it hard against the kitchen counter until the peels come off. The recipe also uses horse gram, which offers astringency to the dish, and pairs well with the spices. Warm and comforting, this kulith ani kooka koddel is the perfect winter dish.
|Sprouted horse gram
|Kooka (Chinese potatoes)
|Dried kashmiri chillies
|Garlic cloves, unpeeled
What You Will Need
Pressure cooker, mortar and pestle (optional), saucepan, mixer-grinder, and tempering pan.
Start by peeling and cutting the kooka into roundels that are 2 centimeters thick. Soak the cut kooka in water.
To soften the tamarind, soak it in half a cup of water for 10-15 minutes and set aside.
For the koddel, gently smash the garlic cloves using the back of a heavy knife or a pestle.
Pressure cook the kooka with a pinch of salt for two whistles. Once it is cooked, strain and set it aside.
Then, pressure cook the horse gram with a pinch of salt for one whistle or just until it becomes soft. Ensure that the horse gram retains its texture and isn’t overcooked.
Lightly roast the dried Kashmiri chilies in a teaspoon of coconut oil.
Once roasted, grind the grated coconut, roasted chilies, and soaked tamarind in the mixer-grinder with half a cup of water until a smooth paste forms.
Combine the paste, cooked kooka, and horse gram with half a cup of water in the saucepan, and let it simmer for 5-6 minutes. Season with salt to taste.
In a tempering pan, heat the remaining coconut oil and fry the garlic cloves until they lightly turn golden brown.
Once browned, add the fried garlic to the curry. Serve hot with soft steamed rice and dalithoy.
Tips and Variations
You can use the kooka whole, instead of chopping it.
While the recipe calls for the use of a mixer-grinder, Nalini used a traditional stone grinder, known as ragado in Konkani, to make the paste for this koddel. You can do this too.
Ashwini Pai, a chef now studying digital marketing, finds joy in long, quiet walks, sunsets and the thrill of new experiences. Her true bliss lies in a plate of rice with rasam and fish fry.
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