Patrode rules coastal cuisine

Patrode rules coastal cuisine

Credit: DH Photo

Come monsoon, almost every home in the coastal and Malnad regions of Karnataka gets busy preparing patrode, a much-relished recipe in these parts.

Derived from two Sanskrit words ‘Patre’ (leaf) and ‘Vade/Vado’ (dumpling), patrode or patrado  traces its origin to the Tulunadu. 

Patrode is made out of rice, colocasia leaves and a variety of spices. Also known as colocasia leaf rolls, they are either steamed or fried. Patrode is also used in the preparation of curries. Colocasia leaves are used in a variety of preparations in other parts of the country as well.

Due to its nutritive and medicinal value, the Union Ministry of Ayush recently included patrode in its first-ever booklet containing 26 traditional food recipes which are known for their health and nutritive benefits, from across the country.

The booklet says patrode is rich in calcium, Vitamin A, C and dietary fibres. Its high fibre content helps in maintaining blood cholesterol and sugar level in the body, and iron content improves haemoglobin.

“Ayush systems of medicine have traditionally known patrode to be nutritious. But it is now that it has received due recognition by entering the Ayush booklet,” says Dr Krishna Prasad from Dakshina Kannada Ayush Department.

He adds that the phenols, tannins, flavonoids, glycosides and sterols in these leaves reduces chronic inflammation like rheumatoid arthritis while its natural antioxidants provide better immunity. Also, the juice extracted from the leaves is used for treating a scorpion sting.

Preparation

“There are mainly two types of colocasia leaves and the difference lies in their texture, thickness of the leaves, and stems,” says 72-year-old Geetha Kini, a culinary expert. While one is grown naturally, the other variety can be cultivated. 

Then there is a variant grown on trees called mara kesu, which is also used in making patrodes. These leaves do not have crystals that trigger an itchy sensation in the upper palate like the regular ones.  

Geetha says that presently around 15 patrode recipes are popular. The Konkani, Tuluva (Udupi) and Catholic Christian communities in the coastal region have their own versions of making colocasia leaf delicacies. 

“The Konkan (coast) style of patrode is primarily spicy. We first clean the colocasia leaves and remove the thick veins. It is then smeared with a spicy and tangy paste of rice, urad dal and other ingredients,” says Geetha, as she skillfully rolls the leaves and cuts them into pinwheels so that the layers of stuffing are clearly visible. These small pinwheels are then dusted with rice powder and shallow fried on Tawa with mustard and fenugreek seeds until they turn crusty.

She adds that patrode is traditionally consumed during monsoon as it helps in preventing many monsoon illnesses.

Vimala, who has been making patrode for the past 50 years, uses chickpea, toor dal and moong dal to make soft patrode. It is served hot with generous topping of coconut oil. 

“In Udupi cuisine, besides rice flour and spices, tamarind and jaggery are added to achieve a perfect harmony,” explains U B Rajalakshmi, author of the cookery book Udupi Cuisine.

In Christian families, patrodes are specially prepared on the occasion of the birthday of Mother Mary in September. 

Not just homes, patrode is now found on restaurant menus and is being door-delivered too. It is a key attraction in food festivals such as ‘Aaatidonji dina’ which celebrate seasonal and traditional delicacies.

Commercial cultivation

In the coastal and Malnad areas, these leaves are commonly found during the monsoon. Many people also grow them in their backyard. But to cater to those areas where these leaves are not found, some farmers are taking up their cultivation on a commercial scale.

Vishwas Subrahmanya in Puttur, who cultivates mara kesu, says they are in good demand. He grows mara kesu in containers with a depth of seven to eight inches and to get thicker and darker leaves, Vishwas uses saw dust and coco-pith as base instead of soil.

“Many have evinced interest in my method of cultivating mara kesu,” he says.