The cuisine uses forest produce, ingredients that are medicinal and those are good for health in a season that makes people vulnerable to ill health.
“Aati” cuisine, a part of the tradition of “Aati” month, evolved because of the weather of Dakshina region, for economic and health reasons. The cuisine uses forest produce, ingredients that are medicinal and those that are good for health in a season that makes people vulnerable to ill health.
Mallika Shetty, a Mangalorean, who has advised a city hotel on what to serve as “Aati” cuisine, has a list of recipes collected from her family sources. She said that celebrating the season with the fare typical of it is a good way of letting the younger generation know of the region’s culinary tradition. The fare includes “kanile padangi gasi” (a thick gravy curry made of bamboo shoots), “pelakai gatti” (a sweet dish made of jackfruit), “kudu saaru” (horsegram soup), “tojank podi” (a leafy vegetable that is batter-fried), “sarnaddey” (a sweet made of a specific rice), “yetti chutney” (a dry chutney made of prawns), “kollatharu chutney” (a dry fish chutney) and “ragi manni” (another sweet dish made of ragi).
The recipes use ingredients that were preserved from summer when they were available in plenty. One such instance is that of the deseeded jackfruit, which is retained in brine for use in rainy season. Another is “kolla tharu” which is used to make a chutney that has a long shelf and peps up “ganji”. Other ingredients used in “Aati” period are “nuggekai soppu” ( drumstick ). Every recipe was created keeping in mind health benefits. For instance, “kanile” (bamboo shoots) is balanced with greengram and “kudu saaru”, a soup made of horsegram, which is said to be very nutritious, she said.
Many of the ingredients such as “tojank”, bamboo shoots, and leaves of drumstick are sold in Car Street during the season. Most of the food is easy to prepare except “pathrode” (made of colocasia leaves). The latter requires some skill because the leaves have to be treated correctly before they are used.
Ms. Shetty said that not many people today prepare food typically associated with “Aati”, unlike decades ago. But it could be a healthy alternative to instant foods as the cuisine is more suited to the weather and the region.
However, observation of “Aati” today is on the decline, said Diwakar Kokkada, lecturer in SDM College, Ujire, who has a Ph.d in “Annual Practices of Tulunadu.” He told The Hindu, “There is a lot of difference in the contexts.
Then, it was compulsory (to observe Aati), now it is a matter of choice. Earlier, it was within the family, now it is more community-oriented. The diet evolved for two reasons.
One was the season of heavy rains when people of the region could not go away from the region to do other work. “It is being observed only to save it (from fading away),” he said.