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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Flavoursome Konkani Kanua

Bangalore: Tucked away in by lane off Sarjapur road is a back- to-the-roots (as opposed to state-of-the-art) restaurant with an an intriguing name, “Kanua.”

The ambience is earthy. Even the drinking water is served in a small mud pot. The open rectangular restaurant is 3,000 sq ft and has 70 covers. The traditional elements are redesigned for modern application. The roof of the restaurant is Mangalore-tiled and the rafters of tropical hard wood are from various old houses in the coastal region.

Kanua, explains Rajesh Pai is the name of a lost breed of rice from South Kanara. It's been lost to mass production and commercialisation. He is very passionate about this variety of rice, “Kanua is a par-boiled brown rice. Today hybrid rice varieties are known by cryptic names like M1, M4 or H4. There is no romance or story left. Kanua is a variety of rice grown in the interior parts of Kundapur in my grandfather’s village. It is locally known as kanuke or eye of a beautiful woman.” The Kanua project is an attempt to revive and rediscover this rice.

This restaurant is tribute to Konkani cuisine. All the ingredients are flown in fresh from South Kanara, only seasonal vegetables are used . The recipes are authentic and even ghee used for preparing meals is home-made. The shelves are lined with vegetables like snake gourds, pumpkin, ash gourd, mounds of gnarled yam, raw bananas, raw papaya, vine spinach, yard-long beans. No firangi vegetables like cauliflower, French beans, carrots or tomatoes but just the produce of the coastal region and they are cooked in time-honoured fashion. Tamrind and salt is stored in traditional ceramic jars.

Coastal fish such as prawn, seer, mussels, kaane (ladyfish) and bolanjeer (silverfish) is cooked in mud vessels and therefore the taste is closer to home-cooked food.

For starters there is Ghare happol - sun-dried jackfruit pappads, Pohdies - seasonal vegetables deep fried with a coating of flour. Kaane rawa fry is spiced ladyfish in a crisp semolina crust fried in coconut oil. Kanua ghee roast is a speciality in which morsels of chicken are fried in pure, home-made ghee.

Kuvaale sassam is ash gourd in a mild mustard-based curry. There is liberal use of coconut in some of the dishes like the Naarla egg curry and Naarla chicken curry. You can use this as a dip for Mangalore roxtti (crisp rice sheets) or Paanpolo (thin rice flour pancake). Paanpolo can also be had along with Dalithoi which is dal seasoned with curry leaves and red chillies or Vaali Ambat - crunchy vine spinach and raw papaya with stir-fried onions. To those who favour rice then there is Kanua chicken curry and Kanua prawn pulao.

Desserts too are coastal and traditional. Sakre Khichdi is split Benxgal gram and semolina cooked in a mix of sugar and cardamom and served with sliced banana. Kaelenche is ripened plantain stir-fried in ghee and served in light sugar syrup. Katmandige is sheets of rice-and-jaggery layered and laced with ghee.


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Anonymous said...

They are closed all Monday and dont serve Alcohol - nor can you carry your own.

Anonymous said...

Pictures make the difference. Please add pictures

A Hungry Konkani said...

Awesome!!! Devu baren koro