ARVIND SWAMINATHAN writes from Madras: While Kiran Rao Batni was lamenting the birth of naan, malai kofta and chicken tikka masala as local food in Bangalore (Anna-sambaar to the American on the BlackBerry) ten days ago, I was silently mourning the death of an unsung ‘zero’ of Karnataka: the kodu bale.
The food fundamentalists of churumuri would like to believe that Bisi bele baath is the quintessential Kannada contribution to cuisine. In rare moments of modesty, they might even grudgingly nominate mavinakayi chitranna as the de facto delicacy.
But permit me to strike a discordant note.
Kodu bale, to my dark, deep fried mind, is Karnataka’s asli gift to humankind—if you leave out Kingfisher beer.
(Together, of course, they constitute the most potent Improvised Explosive Device (IED) invented to soften up targets. Permit me to drop a name. I once gave a box of home-made kodu bales to my then favourite Pakistan batsman Salim Malik the night before an ODI and he quietly did what match-fixers in their moments of madness must have paid him millions to accomplish: perish for zero.)
But we digress.
Something has happened to the kodu bale—as Shamala atthe and Leela dodamma used to make it.
Let’s call it The Great Kodu Bale Konspiracy.
At home, the missus can barely find the time or the inclination, and even when she can, her much-acclaimed culinary skills desert her when she starts rolling the dough for the dark dynamite. The first set turns out all right, golden-brown and perfectly round. It self-destructs in your mouth as if to leave no trace for investigators.
And, also, because you have been panting in anticipation like a hungry dobberman, because you have Vijay Mallya‘s wicked brew for company, it tastes darned divine.
But, like with Sania Mirza, the problem starts with the second set. It’s wayward, erratic, inconsistent. There are lots of double faults. Undettered, the wifey has packed about a dozen or so in a Tupperware® box for the morrow. But the next afternoon, the full scale of the disaster unravels itself: yesterday’s scrunchy runaway winner has become a soggy, rubbery runner-up.
What melted in your mouth last night, now shows no mercy on your ageing molars. It wants you to work at it. It wants you to do a million push-ups with your jaws. It wants you to pull it apart.
Suddenly, your favourite snack has become khara chewing gum. A slave of your palate has become its master.
Out of frustration, I have pursued readymade kodu bales from Kodambakkam to Kuvempunagar, and there’s plenty of it available. From the countless Iyengar bakeries to the Mylapore maamis, from the Shetty angadis in Chamarajpet to from the Wal-Mart of fried stuff, the Thindi Mane. But nothing works, at least not for too long.
Either it isn’t spicy enough. Or the colour isn’t inviting enough. Or the texture isn’t right. Or the shape is disgusting. Or there is a faint rancid smell. Or, the ultimate health warning, the wife detects “Dalda”.
Subversive desh drohis try to push rave kodu bale on me. When chakkuli is being made, a couple of faux kodu bales make their way. But they have no effect on me.
Is this the first sign of OCD, I wonder: Obsessive Codu-bale Disorder?
Goodness gracious me!—I thought I would never say this—but is there something unsurpassable about home-made kodu bale? Is it really true, what Nina Wadia says in Meera Syal‘s sitcom: “Why go out when I can make it at home?”
Because of our time-strapped lives or because of all those executive health checkups, or because we have all been watching food shows where all they make is macher jhol and mutton jalfrezi, has the craft of making kodu bale deserted all our homes, all at once?
Maybe, in the smaller towns and villages, kids want them as much as they do pizzas and burgers. Maybe, mothers and grandmothers still make them the way they used to although I am sure that’s an undeniably sexist thing to say. Or maybe, this is just a personal disaster.
Permit me, therefore, a moment of privacy in public to mourn the death of an unsung ‘zero’.
Photograph: courtesy maneadige.blogspot.com
Cross-posted on Kosambari
KoduBale available in abundance at Mangalore contiment stores and savour. Also at ‘standing’ bars Kodubale is available for Re.1 per piece!
Kodibale is available in all Bakeries. I wonder why are you mourning???
The first two comments are the very reasons for us to worry! :D
Dear nastika and Ananth,
That was the whole point the author was trying to make. The demise of Home made Kodu Bale!!!
Variations like Kodubale with hitakida avarekaayi is outta this world man!!! Sad that we are missing out on the small pleasures of life…
And I am kicking myself in the foot for not having tried the Beer n (Kodu)Bale combo earlier…
Better late than never… today its gonna be B n B!!!!!
kodubale is available everyhere in karnataka,
all bakeries have them —- but ones made in BRAHMIN’S BAKERY IN GANDHI BAZAAR IS REALLY GOOD, ALSO TRY SPECIAL NIPPATTU.
all churumuri stalls have them— kodubale is powdered and added to churumuri. also try nippattu masala, boti masala(yellow coloured one),tikki poori .
kodubale and chakkali are together given by members of many communities when they go to invite relatives,friends for marriages.
KODUBALE is very much a part of kannada life style
The picture makes my mouth water. No Kodbale from any mangalore condiment or standup bars can replace the homemade kodubales which your mom churns out by the dozens
It is a bit sad though that traditional snacks like kodubale, ottu shavige, etc are vanishing from the karnataka scape with the passing away of the older generation.
We, rather my mom, still makes them at home and we all relish it !
I dont think its disappeared but running out of fashion for the younger ones who seem to prefer packaged snacks to home made kodubale..
Wow kodu bele with king fisher beer fit for the kings its been soooooooooo long since that happened with me.
mostest depressing post ever.
unbearable, mor-morning getting up not-there not-there uttering.
asahya, beL-beLLigge eddu nasti nasti nuDiyodu.
“Why go out when I can make it at home?”
this i have to agree. sick of all these shalimars, peacocks, udupi type of restaurants serving indian breads and marinated crap and the rest and italian bs as served in affordable restaurants and burgers-walas.
its obvious they have no interest in what they are making. order chettinad or kundapura vegetables and they will serve you frozen mixed vegetables from sams club in a stale gravy. dont even get me started on the standard north indian crap. looking for 1 place that can make a good dal fry. yet to find one.
food blogs rock! check them out. professional cooks suck. exception being that crazy bald cook from indiranagar. but almost to the dot, nostalgic ammana aDige types rock. my prized recipe is eNNegaayi in the erstwhile vijayakarnataka. some non-cook celebrity’s recipe. awesome stuff. (think it was that other funny man in sathyavan savithri. not komal or ramesh)
talking of komal check him out as ‘ethaakoLLa’ sippe gowda. hilarious guy. easily the best in KA, better than his brother even.
nice post sir.
talking koDubaLes in churmuri.
churumuri the website ought to have a churumuri the girmiTT recipe contest.
soosla, durgad-bail hubbaLLi version this one comes topped with a marinated menasu, car street udupi version, 14th main, mysore version, hucchaaspatre Dharwad version, comes with meNasina bhajji, awesome stuff.
Time was when I was an IT salesman in Bangalore and used to travel up the NH7 or NH4 all the way North and hop back from town to town by KSRTC. The homestretch I enjoyed was the last hop from Chitradurga to Bangalore on Friday or Saturday afternoons after a long week of wandering. Driving back at breakneck speed (90-100 kph) on an almost empty bus, with the wind in my face, past explosive yellow fields of sunflower, stopping at Hiriyur (?) for fresh coconut water and then a pack of Kodu Bale – munching it all the way back home. Ah, Satchitanandam!
Kodubale in subbammana angadi in Gandhi Bazaar is ok. Nothing can beat the home made ones though.
Death of Kodubale? wtf.
Where does the dude who wrote this live? Oh wait. Madras. That explains it…
An excellent article! I applaud the author’s search for excellence and hope that someone will write the same about my once beloved Mysore Pak. I have yet to come across a commercial establishment that prepares Mysore Pak the way it should taste: Lightly crisp, flavorful and rich with the finest ingredients bound in harmony by pure clarified butter.
Venkateshwara sweets in Balepet, Bengalooru used to sell lip smacking mysore pak….till BMC discovered that they were using LARD instead of clarified butter. BMC closed this shop down.
By the gods! All these posts about Code Bales are turning me into a ‘Vrikodara!’
Nicely writ, Kaangeya. Thanks for sharing.
I’m still able to get home made kodubale, puri unde, chakli, akki hapla, kobri mithai, “mixture” etc from my mother. Either she makes it or has a local cook help her make it under her direction. I don’t think it is a dying art form.
What seems to be dying are:
1. Chiroti – Chirotis made in madduve choultry’s simply don’t taste like they used to taste even in the 1970s.
2. Baadaami haalu – more tastu of haalu than baadaamiu. (to do a T.P. Kailasam impersonation)
3. Goddu Kootu – gone are the fragrant smells of fresh pepper and fresh gori kaayi.
4. Hale Mysore kaafi 50% Peabury-50% Plantation mixed- why have coffee beans become so stale and lacking in taste? Even during the 1980s you could “smell” a coffee shop (like Aruna Coffee in Gandhi Bazaar) for miles. Nowadays, you can pass by a coffee shop and not notice it.
Enough..I’m getting depressed.
@mayura: Are you serious? Venkateshwara Sweets using lard? Ee sarthi bengalurige bandhaga 1 kg mysore pak pack madisoNa antha plan maDidhnalree!
@Quizman: Baadaami haalu tasted good, the last time I had a cup in Arya Bhavan in Gandhi Bazaar. Aruna Coffee still smells good, but you have to be a few steps away…
QM, I would like to add dumrot to the wish list.
I think (and hope) that the other items including kodbale, chakli and nippattu are still available.
Why only kodubale? All snacks like these are hardly made at home. No doubt home made stuff is preferable. We no longer make it at home, but I do remember the labor that amma had to put in to make these. I wonder how many of us on this blog would labor like that to make them.
On a slightly different note, I do need to narrate an incident about chakli. I had taken a few packets of Vijaya Chakli from US to B’luru. At a gathering of our family folks downing some UB, these chaklis were brought on to the table. They all disappeared quite quickly. When I said that it was from US, everyone balked. I was smiling and watching the fun at conversations that followed:)
BTW, how Vijaya Chakli came to be is a story in itself.
Wherever you all are – Happy Snacking
It is the sad state of preservation and marketing of karnataka food and snacks. That idiotic place called some chennai place anand bhavan has the gall to call mysore paak as mysurpa and appropriate. and we kannadigas go throng it!! depressing.
Need of the hour is marketing “cuisines of karnataka” as someone put it. some of the blog owners need to get enterprising and publish a book on those fast-vanishing, available only with moms and ajjis and housewives recipes of karnatka cuisines – menthya avarekaayi bhaath, maatavaadi palya, avarekaayi huli and hithakida avare huli/kootu along with its variants. Why cant we get these in restaurants, I wonder?
They are AVAILABLE AND ALSO NOT AVAILABLE. It is the question of quality. I find the same with Sambar of good quality is not available in bangalore. I frequent forum transit mall and nothing is palatable there.
if you want to know how local tindis are doing, i would recommend you to visit sree krishna sweets opposite cauvery school (adjacent to BGS hospital). my position is that kodubale and chakli tengoLu kajjaya making has been only outsourced ..why take pains to prepare the same at home when you can get lip smacking ones at the counter?
Koodubale made at home may be vanishing, but not the Kodubale itself. It is being sold by evey condiment store in Mysore or Bangalore under the ad word ‘home made’ or Manele Maadiddu. Some of them are tasty, some of them are nasty and lastly are wasty
>>@mayura: Are you serious? Venkateshwara Sweets using lard? Ee sarthi bengalurige bandhaga 1 kg mysore pak pack madisoNa antha plan maDidhnalree!
This was the position when I visited Bangalore last time. Check if they have reopened again and make sure they do not use lard instead of asli ghee….good luck
Arvind, Your mention of Kodu Bale has made my taste buds start working overtime and is virtually tasting it. But I completely agree with you. You can also add to the list Nippatu and ofcourse the great Avare kalu Nippatu.
how about a recipe for those who haven’t eaten it in recent months, and aren’t near a generous ajji or aththe?!
O nanna Kannada bandhavare, neevella baree tinnodralle iri, nimmanna, Karunanidhi, Stalinnu, Patilu, Bihariglu, namma leadersu thintha irodannoo swalpa gamanseeppaa, adanna bittu…. kodubale, nippattina mahatvada baggee charche madtha kootkobedi.. kurigalagbedri….. sankta aguthe
After seeing the picture…I got tempted :)
nice article….now im gonna go home n try n make kodu bale…
of course…me n my wifey r gng to make it at home for 1st time in our lives :)
ee thara discussion maado badlu,
aaskakti ero namma “hudugeerige” mattu “hudugarige” kalisidre hege??
becoz they r belongs to YOUNG GENERATION.they are the hope of “future”.
we must check the “old generation” who know how make
* avarekaayi huli
* chakkuli(garam aagirodu) etc..
don’t make it to Marketting..
naavu avugalanna naave kalitre uddhaara aagtivi..:) :) :-)
Chikka Chikka kodubale what you get in Bangalore & Mysore bakery is very tasty. It is different from home made big kodubale. Can any one send the recipe ofr chikka chikka (putta putta) kodubale.
OK, have I died and gone to heaven, or is this some alternate universe.
There are Mysoreans, Bangaloreans, etc who actually have the time to write such awesome stuff on, on…umm, on topics that make me want to be a 9 year old again???OMG. Thanks so much, a regular, boring day at work, googling for scams of tainted Ministers, has turned into a day when I can see nly Iyengar Bakeries and roadside churmuri all- around!! Awesome!!
Ooh the pleasures of chakli and kodubale…. I totally agree with you on the texture and the color part of it…. They are the greatest indicators of the yumminess that is to be unravelled…. Slurp… Sigh…