Kaveri Ponnapa is an independent writer and author based in Bengaluru. She took an Honours Degree in English Literature at Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi, followed by a Master's Degree in Social Anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, graduating with distinction. She has been writing extensively on food, wine, travel, art and heritage for leading publications for over three decades. Her articles have been published in UpperCrust, BBC Good Food, the Taj Magazine, Sommelier India Magazine and Food Lovers Magazine amongst others. She has also written on a wide range of subjects including travel, design and culture for Times of India, Deccan Chronicle, Indian Design and Interiors, Swagat, Namaskar and Discover India.Kaveri has written a monograph, The Expediency of Colour, on the artist Rekha Rao Hebbar.
Her passion for food and cooking has put her on UpperCrust magazine's list of Fifty Fantastic Cooks. In 2012, Kaveri began writing The Coorg Table®, her lively blog on the cuisine of Coorg, which continues to be loved by many readers, chefs and home cooks across the world who interact with her regularly. "It was while researching my first book, The Vanishing Kodavas, an in-depth cultural study of the Kodava people that I had first-hand experience of seeing how a cuisine is born out of a particular landscape, culture and history. I was often invited home for a meal or to spend the night as the guest of a person I barely knew. Coming together over food was the easiest way to communicate with people," says Kaveri.
She has worked with the chefs of Taj Vivanta, MG Road, Bengaluru, cooking and explaining the nuances of Coorg cuisine. At one session, a visiting chef from Milan, Chef Giovanna, was so intrigued by the quintessential Coorg vinegar kachampuli which Kaveri was using that she carried a litre bottle back with her to Italy, comparing it to the best balsamic vinegar of Modena! She has held a very successful 10-day Coorg Food Festival at Dakshin, ITC Windsor, working with the talented Chef Jayasurya. Kaveri has spent time cooking for and sharing her knowledge of Coorg food with the Indian cookery legend, Madhur Jaffrey, and some of her classic Coorg recipes feature in Jaffrey's Curry Easy Vegetarian.
Kaveri draws on the twin fields of literature and anthropology to inspire her writing: "I love everything to do with food: the history of food and the cultural aspects of cooking, and I find great pleasure in reading about food experiences described in beautiful prose. It has been a lifelong passion that has taken me on incredible journeys across the world and India, from the smallest, most nondescript eateries to world-renowned restaurants. I'm particularly interested in the cultural context of food and cooking. But, with all the reading and exploring, there are very few things more satisfying than sitting around a table filled with food that you have cooked yourself, sharing it with friends and people you love."
In September 2013, Kaveri completed work on an extensive project documenting the history and culture of the Kodava people. The Vanishing Kodavas® was published by Eminence Designs. The book documents the story of the Kodava people in their own voices supported by a parallel, rich, visual narrative which has proved to be an invaluable documentation of a very small community under great pressure to maintain their identity in a rapidly changing world. Since its publication, the book has inspired many young Kodavas to delve into hitherto unexplored aspects of their culture and heritage, while people reading about the Kodavas for the first time have observed that the book: "tells of the feeling of generations; the understanding and ability to put (this) into words, (is) often the hardest part of writing".
For more about the book, please click on the link: www.thevanishingkodavas.com.
All the food presented is cooked by Kaveri in her home kitchen, and the photographs are styled by her.
You can write to Kaveri at email@example.com
Having worked in many advertising agencies as an Art Director, I follow your writing whenever I can. but what really draws me to it are your photographs.
I have seen a bit of food styling, but yours is by far the best, because apart from aesthetics, you infuse your work with a soul, and that is so difficult to achieve, and so precious. Every frame is full of beauty, nostalgia and brings to mind a different time and place. Rare to find in today's 'instant' world. Thank you for your lovely work, and All the very Best.
A sumtuous feast for the senses, this is food writing at its evocative best. Every story, every dish, every picture, every delightful tid bid conjures up a magical world, one that's highly edible! A true labour of love. Kudos. :)
What a beautiful post this is Kaveri. I have been a huge fan of your work for a very long time, I love the passion you have for the beautiful land of Coorg, it makes me want to catch the next flight and move there.
I chanced upon your webpage last week. Whenever I find time I go through your articles. They are so carefully and tastefully written. The images are just awesome. Your arrangement of each picture is just so beautiful. Thank you for the wonderful articles and taking me to the land of Coorg.
What an exquisite piece of writing, embroidered with morsels of food and gorgeous photographs. I am entranced.
I too am entranced and transported to another world each time I read your posts ...... of smoke filled kitchens with pots of amazing dishes bubbling away on wood fired stoves. Reminds me of all the summers I spent in my ancestral home in Kerala.... the recipes may be different but the experiences are so similar. Can't wait to get your book.
I really enjoyed reading your blog. There is so much beauty in your writing, It took my imagination to a different level.
Often times, more than for the recipes themselves, I keep coming back to these pages to read the things you write about Coorg. Having been born and raised there myself, every image you create takes me back to that land, and thus I find myself reading them again on nights when I'm especially missing home. The photos, the words, all so very lovely. Thank you!
And I can't wait for your book. I hope it is being published soon.
I enjoy reading your blog, always it takes back me to my childhood days. Recipes, narration, images are very attractive and too good. Thanks for the wonderful writing....
Love the narrative ! And the images too !!! You bring in so much richness to the simple ingredients that you use in your recipes. And the presentation of it adds in more beauty and warmth .
I must say , your style and narration is one of a kind I have come across in all the cookbooks I have read so far.
This post particularly, is such a sweet gentle nudge insisting us to go back and reflect on the slow carefree way of life we enjoyed in our childhood days . ..plucking the fallen ripe Indian berries and taking it home to mother to make pickles out of them is one such memory which came to my mind when I read this post.
Your recipe filled our home with the type of nostalgic joy that I couldn't even begin to put in words - Thank You. I made the mudre kanni yesterday after soaking it the night before, I didn't tell my parents and simply served it to them at dinner. They stared at me and tried to fathom how I was able to find this recipe, and as they ate, stories of Coorg flowed across the table. I learnt of mushrooms picked in the rainy season, of green leaves that are healthier then spinach, of crabs caught in the rice paddies and as they talked and laughed - I saw how this kanni was so much more than a beautiful curry but a connection to some of their happiest memories.
I've never had mudre kanni before but according to Amma and Pappa, the flavours were as they should be. It's a very earthy curry, a little sweet and tangy with a really full body of flavour, it was the perfect dish with your recommendation of hot plain rice on a cold winter day.
Thank You for the recipe, thank you for your kindness and thank you for bringing a piece of Coorg to a cold winter's day in Sydney.
This is the first post on your blog I have read. I am smitten! This made my day. I have similar experiences with food and smells and my grandmother. I wish I knew more about this history of the dishes though (in Goa). Thank you for this
There is something about your blending of authenticity, skill, artform and literature ... just like the perfect masala blend for a great dish, which elevates your recipe so much more... My first time browsing... I almost felt a wisp of aroma as I read and re- read this recipe... I enjoyed the narrative supremely making cooking more a journey than the destination. Looking forward to creating this recipe.
I just discovered you after following a link from Naomi Duguid 's site where she posted your interview with her. I'm thrilled to have your archives to read through. The articles you write are deep and informative and wonderfully written and illustrated. It's like discovering a new country.
What a wonderful read. So intriguing and so full of interesting nuggets. The pictures are like a dream.
Your post today ushered such sweet memories of this sour fruit... I am an ardent and until now a silent fan of your writing, your food, your elegant styling... honestly, about everything on this space. I can't wait to lay my hands on your upcoming book. Hope it is happening soon
Thank you so much for creating The Coorg Table :)
I don't know what is more beautiful, your stories, your food or your pictures. They inspire me so much. Love your blog.