There’s something about home that brings so much mental peace. The house my mum stays in now is no more than 6 months old (in terms of her having lived here). But, the decor – the lamps, the curtains, carpet, beds, books – are all so familiar. The warmth of her hug, the smell of her cupboard, the dressing table, the music she plays, are all bursting with the memories of my childhood – of a home that was. As I cook with her in the kitchen, I am reminded of those days when I would sit at the doorway of our kitchen in the Salalah house, and she would talk to me about her experiences and life in general – there is so much I have learned about life from those moments than I ever would have otherwise.
And, as I teach Amma the right way of putting the tadka in our Dali Toy as my dad used to – one that wafted around the house with its sweet smell – I am transported back to the times when I cooked with my dad. I learned to make Chinese from him, learned the art of making a tadka (or tempering for the uninitiated), I learned the masala for a delicious masala dosa and even kori rotti. I was probably 12-13 years old when I first had Kori Rotti during a visit to Bangalore, and I fell in love with it. Crisp Rice Papads going all mushy in a deliciously rich chicken curry flavoured with Byadgi chillies, freshly ground garam masalas and chicken pieces. I couldn’t wait to go back home and try to make it. So, the first time I tried preparing Kori Rotti was with my father. We carried a load of rotti from India and set about preparing the dish from an old recipe book for Mangalorean cuisine. The recipe was long drawn and rather complicated – what with thick coconut milk, thin coconut milk, etc. but we managed just fine!
Alas, the recipe book we had got lost, and my father passed away and I couldn’t find the same recipe anywhere. Then, I met a friend who is a Mangalorean, and she helped me with her mother’s recipe (much easier, I must say) for Kori Rotti, and I replicated it. Bought the rotti from a Mangalore Store at JB Nagar in Andheri East and was ready for the feast.
Making Kori Rotti is no great feat. However, every step in this recipe is so important. Roasting each ingredient separately, grinding it in one by one and then mixing the whole lot with the chicken takes some time but is totally worth it. My image looks a little blond compared to the fiery red colour the dish is usually associated with. I used spicy chillies, but for the red colour, I’d suggest that you go for a mix of the regulr spicy chillies and some kashmiri chillies or just byadgi chillies which have both!
Before going into details of the recipe, here’s a glimpse of the dish.