For most people, obbattu marks the high point of Ugadi, but allow me to strike a seriously contrarian note: It’s the mavinakayi chitranna that really gives the Kannada New Year the eating edge.
I mean, you can pick up a packet of holige, and pretty decent holige at that, all year round from Nalpak or from Kamat Lokaruchi. But ever seen any restaurant in any city serve you good mavinakayi chitranna?
Tomato rice, our bhattaru are masters at, and masters they will be because the stuff is so darned cheap these days that the Corporation authorities are encouraging tomato farmers to crush them on the road so that the potholes remain hidden till monsoon.
Ditto, coconut rice.
But, this is the point, most of the “rice items” our restaurants serve these are characterless, assembly line productions, which any Ramya, Rita or Rehana can make.
Puliyogre, you can get any time because of MTR.
But mavinakayi chitranna is, as intellectuals like Prithvi would posit, is “predicated” on the availability of mavinakayi, and that my dears is thankfully not so across the country or across the year.
Id est, it is namma speciality, guru.
I was thinking about all this when young Nikhil called from Poona around noon to wish us HNY and all that. “What are you doing for habbada oota,” I asked, “has some Maharashtrian classmate invited you over for Gudi Padva?”
“Nope,” he said, “we are all outsiders here, etc.” (U.R. Ananthamurthy, please note)
So, I asked Nagu, who makes the most divine mavinakayi chitranna on the third rock from the sun, just what magic she worked on it.
Here is what she says she would recommend to feed three hungry stomachs, pining for a slice of home in lands, far and near.
Ingredients: Mukkaal paav rice (approximately 200 grams); one full green raw mango; half a coconut; 3 tea spoons of oil; 2 tea spoons of mustard; 1 tea spoon each of bengal gram, urad dal and methi; 2/3 tea spoons of ground nuts; 10 pieces of red chillies; 2 sticks of curry leaves; half a spoon of haldi; hing and salt to taste.
Method: 1) Cook the rice in a cooker and allow it to cool naturally by spreading it out on a plate. Once it has cooled, add salt and a spoon of oil to the rice. Forget about it for a while.
2) Grate the mango and the coconut, and grind it with one spoon of mustard and 8 red chillies. This is the chutney for the chitranna.
3) Now prepare the seasoning. Take two tea spoons of oil, and add mustard, urad dal, 2 red chillies, the groundnuts, hing and haldi. Add the seasoning to the rice.
4) To the empty baandli, now add one tea spoon of oil and fry the grated ‘chitranna’ chutney for 3 minutes. Pour this on the rice and kals it with your bare hands, repeat bare hands.
5) Dry roast the methi, crush it with a lattange, and sprinkle the powder on top of the chitranna before serving.