Jolada Rotti- Cuisine of North KarnatakaPosted: May 11, 2011
While we enjoy most of the dishes in Australia that are special to Karnataka, there is one cuisine that is unavailable here. That is why we make it a point to eat this cuisine every time we go to Bangalore. It is Jolada Rotti Oota (meal), a cuisine that is native to North Karnataka. I haven’t actually had this meal in North Karnataka, but we go to a restaurant in Bangalore, which specifically serves a whole meal from this cuisine.
One evening, we entered the restaurant and found out it was full. There were at least 150 people waiting for tables and seats. We were one of them and there were six of us. We went upstairs and found that there was a stage with a mini concert for people who were waiting. There was a violinist playing Carnatic Music, filling the air with soothing notes. Not a bad way for hungry people to pass time. Just when we were allocated a table, the electricity went out and we sat in pitch darkness. After eventually cranking up the generator, the waiter started serving us, and boy! The food did not stop until the end of the night!
He first laid out a banana leaf in front of each of us. We sprinkled water all over it and wiped it with our hands, cleaning it out. Then came the side dishes. The leaf was laid out with:
1) Mixed Vegetable Palya (stir fry with spices)
2) Spinach Curry with pulses. This dish will be a gravy version of the Palya
3) Raita (Yoghurt laced with spices, tomato, cucumber and onion.
4) The most special dish of all, which is a specialty of North Karnataka is Enne Gai. This is made out of egg plant, which is slit open and stuffed with spices. It is of gravy consistency.
After all of this, the waiter came with steaming, hot off the stove, Jolada Rotti, which is unleavened bread made from sorghum. The supply of Jolada Rotti and all the side dishes are unlimited. You can eat to your heart’s content! He then put one big, fat butter cube on the Jolada Rotti, which melts over it! We started digging in, tearing the Jolada Rotti into pieces and dipping it in the the various side dishes. We eat the meal with our hands.
In the middle of the table were four steel bowls. In them were salt, one kind of pickle and two kinds of Chutney Pudi. Chutney Pudi is basically Chutney Powder, and it contains various lentils and spices, which are all ground together. As mentioned, two kinds of Chutney Pudi are available on the table: one is Curry Leaves Chutney Pudi, while the other is Garlic and Lentils Chutney Pudi. Chutney Pudi and pickles act as mini side dishes, and add great flavour to Indian breads, yoghurt rice and many more.
Following this course, the waiter came out with plain white rice, and offered Huli (thick, chunky soup with vegetables of some kind) first and then Saaru (Indian soup with spices). Of course, no South Indian meal is complete with yoghurt and rice. He gave thick yoghurt in a separate bowl, so thick, you can stick a knife in it! Now would be a good time to serve yourself some pickle and Chutney Pudi, which is exactly what we did. As we finished our meal, the waiter brought Lassi, which is basically butter milk seasoned with ginger, coriander leaves and salt. This, of course, acts as a great digestive.
As if that was not enough, the waiter then came out with ice cream and fruits, and a sweet dish.
As a final cherry to the cake, he brought over a small steel plate, filled with cardamom bananas and betal leaves. The cardamom bananas are tiny and can be eaten in one bite. This variety is found in India and they are sweeter than bananas found here in Australia.
Wrapped in the betal leaf are Adiké, cardamom, rose essence and sprinkles. This acts as a digestive and a breath freshener.
Remember, it is an unlimited, all you can eat, meal. Each meal costs only Rs.120. When you convert it to today’s exhange rate, it is about A$2.50 per meal!
N.B. There is no oil added to the Jolada Rotti, so it is a healthy option. The side dishes are filled with vegetables, lentils and pulses, making it highly nutritious and filling.