Akki Otti

I went to visit my cousin sister and her husband in Coorg one last time. They will soon retire and move out from the beautiful coffee estates which are interspersed with orange trees and pepper creepers. I’m sure they’ll miss the place and the joy of tending to their kitchen garden in addition to encounters with wild pigs and elephants and cooking with firewood. I first visited them in Pollibetta when I was still in school. I still remember the tall silver oaks and the old English cemetery next to the church rolling up and down covered with a carpet of yellow flowers. I fell in love with the place and its people immediately and even so many decades later memories still put a smile on my face. Continue reading “Akki Otti”

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Making your own own coffee powder

Coffee has been one of my all time favorites since childhood. I can vaguely remember begging for coffee from my grandma and pestering my cousin sisters’ back home for coffee all through the day. The only difference was while my grandmother used filter coffee, my cousin sisters’ had made the move to instant coffee. I never realized that one day I’d come full circle and go back to filter coffee! Continue reading “Making your own own coffee powder”

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Oiling a griddle using an onion

This is part of a post that was supposed to be covered along with another on oiling griddles. It may be familiar to some and unfamiliar to others. I wanted to include this to complement my other post. Mum used to use this method for oiling our flat cast iron dosa griddle called a flat tava in Hindi and Kaavoli in Tulu.  I prefer it to the silicon brushes and the onion can later be chopped up and added to another recipe. It also adds a pleasant flavor to the dosa.

Alternative tools for oiling a griddle are coconut coir, banana leaf stalk and a piece of cotton cloth wrapped around a stick … the goal being to get a thin film of oil on the griddle. Continue reading “Oiling a griddle using an onion”

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Harvesting and processing Arrowroot

Arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea) is a familiar name. As kids it was a kind of a sister to castor oil which mum sometimes spooned into our mouths. It was bland and insipid and that was the beginning of my childhood hatred for any kind of porridge and of Arrowroot biscuits which has thankfully now passed. Arrowroot derives its name from its past medicinal use in which it was used as a poultice to treat wounds inflicted by poisoned arrows. Continue reading “Harvesting and processing Arrowroot”

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Harvesting and processing Turmeric

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a spice which is very familiar in Asia. It is usually used powdered and is one of the easiest to identify due to its bright orange-yellow color. However it is often adulterated and then colored with artificial colors. If you have a small garden patch, it is very easy to grow turmeric on your own. It is almost maintenance free and takes care of itself provided the weather is not too cold and there is good rainfall.  Continue reading “Harvesting and processing Turmeric”

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Cow dung and its uses

Never thought I’d be doing a post on cow dung! I’m guessing this post would also apply to dung of other herbivorous animals which put out dung of the same consistency. My earliest encounter with dung was on my way to school when I sometimes trod on it. In school we used to call it cutting the cake. It was the worst thing that could happen to one of us -if you overlook instances when we accidentally trod on dog or human dung in which case, “kill me now” would be the most appropriate thing to say. Continue reading “Cow dung and its uses”

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The Thootae: Torch made out of dry coconut leaves

Back to the main post on the coconut tree

I’m fortunate enough to have people in my family who lived before the advent of electricity and studied by kerosene lamp. Often the kerosene lamp was just a round wick forced through a hole made in the metal bottle cap. I vaguely knew that before kerosene lamps and LED torches, people moving around in the night used torches made out of natural materials. I knew it was called a thootae (Thoo-tay) in Tulu. It is still used as a figure of speech for a female with a sharp tongue. I remember my dad and his friend who was also my dad’s colleague at work and my violin tutor discussing childhood incidents one day during a power outage in Bombay (Now Mumbai). They were discussing ghosts and spirit manifestations which were common in our hometown of Udupi due to its history of spirit worship.  Continue reading “The Thootae: Torch made out of dry coconut leaves”

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