“Most dishes are steamed and not fried. The use of oil is really less and only the tempting has oil which is used for garnishing,” Smitha points out, drawing attention to what is intrinsic to the cuisine which makes it all the more alluring - pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon.
Captivated, she started sending out calls for memorable evenings 8 years back. You have a dinner to host? - look no further, you just turn up in her house with your guests. You’ll be happily listening to her stories about growing up in the lush valleys as you assist her in rustling up some versatile Kodava cuisine.
“I've been hosting home dinners since 2011. People can cook a meal with me and eat in my place and if they are not coming over, I will send it across,” smiles Smitha who has lived in Chennai for the last 20 years and is now training in counselling.
The food curator, a trained Bharatnatyam dancer who has also appeared in Doordarshan shows, has never gone to any formal classes, rather she would revel in the culinary knowledge passed on by her grandmother.
Talking about the versatile cuisine, Smitha, who has been part of two food shows, exclaims at how people mistake the valley only for pork curry. “There is so much more to it. There are a lot of alluring and appetising vegetarian dishes too. We boast of mushroom dishes, there are dishes flaunting yellow cucumber, tender yellow pumpkins, butter meals and raw plantains - down to earth food made with the produce of the land.”
Talking about her upcoming Coorg Food festival, where she will be treating Chennaites to quintessential Coorg-special dishes, she gives a sneak peek into the menu - Vegetarians will be surely pleased by Bollary barthade, Kumbala curry, Mudre kanni, Kumm curry, Avare curry and Thoppu fry. Non-vegetarian food lovers won’t be let down either. Pandi curry, Yerchi pulav, Matthi meen fry and Nallamalu yerchi barthad will rule your plates.
Smitha will be curating the foodies’ delight with chef Gopi at Food Exchange from Nov 11 to 18.