Chef Naren Thimmiah (in picture), executive chef, The Gateway Hotel – Residency Road, Bengaluru, opines that ‘Coorg Garam Masala’ and ‘Kachampuli’ are South India’s gift to the world, but something the rest of the country seems to be in the dark about

Coorg Garam Masala:

This particular combination of masalas from the Coorg region, where Thimmiah grew up, is a must for Coorg-style pork and chicken curries. The dark brownish powder is made with a blend of whole coriander, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, cumin and mustard seeds.

“They’re dry roasted separately first and then powdered to a coarse consistency,” says the chef.

It’s this masala which lends the slightly dark colour and earthy, smokey flavour to the meat curries. Most importantly, the combination of spices helps offset the fat in the pork, making it easier to digest. “Besides, Coorg is cold through the year because it is either winter or the monsoon. The spices in our food keep us warm,” says the chef.

Picture for representative purpose. Picture courtesy:

Kodampuli and Kachampuli: 

If Kokum is popular in western India, Kodampuli is the southern equivalent. The ridged fruit is yellow-orange when it’s ripe but darkens as it dries. Although it is widely used in the south to add tartiness to curries and to create Kachampuli, the thick dark vinegar, Kodampuli is not commercially grown.

Picture courtesy: Pinterest/

“It grows wild. Most people in Coorg pick Kodampuli from their backyards,” reveals the chef. The fruit ripens and falls in the rainy season. The seed is cut open and the skin left out to dry. This dark dried fruit is a must for most fish curries made in the south. In Coorg, the fruit is juiced as soon as it ripens; then the juice left to ferment.

The liquor is then cooked until it reduces to the consistency and colour of balsamic vinegar. “It is so tart that even a drop of the thick liquid is enough to give you a kick,” describes Thimmiah.

The vinegar, known as Kachampuli, is used to marinate chicken, pork and fish which is then pan-fried to serve as a ‘side dish’. With the demand for Kachampuli growing, the prices are skyrocketing, warns the chef. A 150ml bottle could cost you as much as Rs 1600 in Bangalore.

Picture courtesy: Pinterest/

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