As you cross the picturesque Coorg or Kodagu hills, you get the fresh air of mountains and if there's one concrete sensation that overpowers you, it's that of a rumbling tummy. Hunger beckons and you know there's something as delectable as pork cooked the typical Kodagu way, awaiting you.
The meat is that of the wild boar, hunted and cooked in vinegar extracted from forest tamarind, wild and tangy. The locals do this their way to perfection. The meat is cooked along with masalas and leaves collected from the forest. The dish is vintage Kodagu 'pannikkari' or pork curry. The Kodava people, huntsmen by nature, are experts in turning out non-vegetarian culinary delights. Though Kodagu Naadu shares its borders with the Western Ghats valleys of Malabar, Mysore, and Mangalore, it has retained its purity of culture and culinary traditions and has not borrowed flavours or spices from any neighbouring territories.
For years, the Kodavas chose to stay away from the prying eyes of the rest of the world. This is the prime reason why the food tastes of Kodagu have retained their identity with absolutely no influence of flavours from outside. The Kodava tastes and flavours come from the herbs and leaves collected from the forests. Bamboo shoots and wild mangoes are perhaps found all round the year only in Kodagu kitchens.
The Kodava people love rice, which happens to be their staple food. They are past masters in turning out different sorts of puttu. The round kadamputtu, the paaputtu made with coconut pieces and milk, and the koovale puttu with jack fruit are some of their hit serves.
Lard or fat from meat is what gives it its special taste. They never resort to the artificial taste of cooking oil. Chunks of meat are hung up over the hearth on wooden planks. Kachampuli, the strong, thick extract from wild tamarind, is always a part of all Kodagu dishes. And this is what gives their pork curry its distinct flavour.