Leaves on a roll!

Down foodpath

Leaves on a roll!

My growing up years were in Andhra Pradesh, far away from my native Udupi. My father would often recount his childhood stories of the temple town, the three-month-long incessant south-west monsoons, the spirit worship, ‘Kola’ and the delicious food served at the temple. My mom prepared well-known Tulu dishes like ‘pathravade’, ‘gashi’, ‘kadubu’, ‘thambuli’ and ‘mensinakai’ to name a few.

Udupi cuisine is incomplete without the ubiquitous coconut, coconut oil and curry leaves, that were to be found plenty in mum’s pantry. Interestingly, the cuisine does not make use of onions and garlic. Even the use of spices is minimum so that the flavour and taste of the ingredients can be savoured. Every Sunday, the house would be abuzz with chatter of young voices with friends looking forward to indulging in some unique dishes that they felt were exotic in comparison to their ‘pappu’, ‘pachadis’, ‘podums’, ‘vepudus’ and ‘avakaya’. One dish that we all would salivate for was the ‘pathravade’/‘pathrode’ as procuring the leaves was a difficult process. Since mixer grinders were a luxury in the 70s, we had to physically grind the rice and the ‘masalas’ in the stone grinder. Being the eldest, I had to help in this chore and only then, the all-time favourites like ‘idli’, ‘dosa’ and ‘pathravade’ would make an appearance.

As the very name suggests ‘pathravade’ is a steamed leafy dumpling. The same is also prepared in Maharashtra and Gujarat but instead of rice, gram flour is used. Its main ingredient is the leaves of the colacasia (C.esculenta) plant familiar as ‘arbi’ or ‘kesuve’.

(The author can be reached at githaub@yahoo.com)

Recipe
‘Pathravade’

Ingredients           
*Kesuve leaves: 10
*Rice: 1 measure (soaked for at least 3 hours)
*Tamarind:Lime size
*Jaggery: Lime size
*Urad dal roasted: Three tsp
*Channa dal roasted: Three tsp
*Methi seeds: Half tsp
*Dhania seeds: 2 ½ tsp
*Jeera seeds: 1 ½ tsp     
*Coconut: Three fourths of a kernel
*Byadigi chillies: 10
*Salt to taste   

Method
The leaves have to be cleaned well and the veins have to be removed. The soaked rice needs to be smoothly ground to a thick paste with as little water as possible. The other ingredients are to be ground together and mixed to the rice paste. Then the leaves are to be smeared with the paste placing them one on top of the other and rolled. If the rolls are huge, they are to be cut and then steamed for  20 minutes. When a knife dipped into it comes clean, then it is just done. This can be eaten as it is or made into ‘upma’.

For ‘upma’, the steamed rolls are to be finely sliced. In a pan, prepare the usual ‘oggarane’ and add a pinch of turmeric and two tbsp of jaggery. To this, add the chopped leaves and serve with coconut gratings. You can also add a dash of coconut oil. Else the steamed roll can be sliced into roundels and dipped in the leftover rice — spice batter and shallow fried on ‘tawa’. This is called ‘kallangatti’.

The ‘kesuve’ leaves can be substituted with ‘palak’ or ‘harave soppu’ or even cabbage. The batter can be separately prepared and made into ‘dosa’ or ‘paper dosa’ when the batter is thin. To this can be added onion or cabbage or ridge gourd pieces for an added twist.  
The problem with the leaves is that if it does not have a blackish stem then it is likely to cause itching in the throat. This is due to the presence of microscopic needles of calcium oxalate. Most of us from the coastal district have the plant grown in the backyard to avoid this.

As a remedy, one can also coconut oil or ‘ghee’ on the slices to avoid itching or drink sour buttermilk /curd immediately.

Today, I grow this plant in my backyard and with the genie of a mixer, I prepare the dish frequently. The measures are given by my ‘maami’ Usha Kishore as my mother used to prepare on the basis of ‘andaaja’. The preparation is still tedious as it takes an hour to clean the leaves alone.

No wonder the youngsters get the readymade slices from the neighbouring Mangalurean stores. Since Udupi cuisine makes use of all parts of a vegetable, the stem is also used to make a delicious ‘huli’/ ‘sambhar’ preparation. But somehow a mother’s recipe and the old-fashioned way of cooking have a magic of their own that cannot be replicated.

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