Textures. From seasoned gourmands to budding food bloggers, food textures are a big talking point. It's not just about flavours or presentation alone. What about a dish where the textures change by the second. A dish where a flavourful gravy gradually seeps into the accompanying bread transforming from crispy to mushy as you get sucked in by the rich flavours.
I never tire of exploring the food scene in Karnataka's southern coastal belt around Udupi and Mangaluru. From the temple cuisine in Udupi to seafood and meat specialties in iconic local establishments that have stood the test of time, there's no dearth of options. It was during one of my many coastal drives from Mangaluru to Goa that I stumbled upon the Kori Rotti. It was a case of instant love. This dish is not easy to find outside this region except for the odd true blue Mangalorean restaurants in Bengaluru.
A few weeks ago, I was at Feliz at the DoubleTree by Hilton, Goa - Panaji. This pool-facing, al-fresco restaurant and bar is one of the only places in Goa that serves authentic Mangalorean cuisine. It didn't take me too long to make my choice after I scanned the menu - it had to be the Kori Rotti. It truly hit the spot and took me back to Udupi where I first sampled this quintessential Tulava Udupi cuisine dish. Kori translates into chicken, while the rotti (also spelt as roti in these parts) here refers to the crisp, dry rice wafers that gradually turn soggy once you drench them with the spicy local chicken curry. It's usually served by some communities in the region for special occasions.
(Also Read: 11 Best Karnataka (Kannada) Recipes)
If you're ever in and around Mangaluru, I can recommend at least a couple of places where you can savour this dish. There's Tamboolam in Udupi where I discovered this dish. This stand-alone restaurant serves a host of Mangalorean signatures like the Moode, a cylindrical version of the idli and the etty chutney (with pounded shrimps). There's Shetty's Kori Rotti restaurant in the heart of Mangaluru that serves a terrific version.
The rotti is available in many local stores in and around Udupi and can also be ordered online; all you need to do is cook that delicious chicken curry. The key ingredient in this curry is Karnataka's emblematic Byadagi Chilli. It takes its name from Byadagi, a town in Karnataka's Haveri district. This chilli is synonymous with the deep red hue it imparts to the dishes but is less spicy than some of India's other chili varietals. Byadagi Chili has been recognised with a GI (Geographical Indication) Tag earlier this decade and is a mainstay in many dishes from the region.
Aside from the Byadagi Chilli, the presence of coconut and coconut milk lend this curry with its creamy texture. You can try making this curry at home; it's a slightly intensive but relatively simple recipe.
Kori Rotti - Recipe (Serves two portions)
Recipe Courtesy - Chef Amalraj, Executive Chef, DoubleTree by Hilton, Goa - Panaji
- Byadagi chilli - 15 gms
- Garlic - 5 gms
- Ginger - 5 small pieces
- Coconut - 50 gms
- Curry leaf - few sprigs
- Turmeric - 1 gms
- Onion - 50 gms
- Jeera seeds - 3 gms
- Fennel seeds - 5 gms
- Coconut oil - 50 gms
- Salt - 7 gms
- Coriander seeds - 7 gms
- Poppy seeds - 1 gms
- Clove - 1 gms
- Cinnamon stick - 1 gms
- Cardamom - 1 gms
- Bay leaf - 1 gms
- Coconut milk - 30 gms
- Chicken - 300 gms
- Tomato - 80 gms
- Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan; roast the dry red chilies, coriander seeds, peppercorns, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, coconut, garlic and ginger until they turn brown.
- Heat the remaining oil in the same pan. Add onion and fry till onion is slightly golden brown. Cool the roasted ingredients and add them to the blender. Blend to make a smooth paste. Use little water if required.
- Heat oil in a pan. Add curry leaves and fry for a few seconds. Add sliced onion and fry till golden brown.
- Add turmeric powder and gram masala powder and fry for a few seconds. Add chicken and fry on high heat for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the ground masala paste and fry for a minute. Now, add salt and thin coconut milk and cover the chicken till it's tender. Add tomato puree and tamarind paste and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the thick coconut milk and switch off the heat. Garnish with fresh coriander and fried onions. Serve hot with the rotti.
The key to this recipe is the Byadagi Chilli and the coconut milk. While you could substitute the Byadagi chilli with any other dried red chili variety, it isn't quite the same. You could try this curry with rice or dosa too. If all this is too much work, just plan a road trip from Mangaluru to Goa. Aside from the scenic drive and beaches along the way, you can keep making food stops at towns like Udupi, Kundapura and Karwar. And yes, Kori Rotti is always in the mix.
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