Kaveri Ponnapa is an author and widely published independent writer on food, wine and heritage, based in Bengaluru She graduated with a Master’s Degree in Social Anthropology from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. In 2013, Kaveri completed work on The Vanishing Kodavas, an extensive cultural study of the Kodava people, published by Eminence Designs. The book details the story of the Kodava people in their own voices supported by a parallel, rich, visual narrative. The book is 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 explore aspects of their culture and heritage. Readers 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”.
A Place Apart, Poems from Kodagu, a translation and transliteration of Kodava poems was published in 2022. Kaveri received the Gaurava Puruskara from the Karnataka Kodava Sahitya Academy for her extensive research and documentation of Kodava history and culture in the same year.
In 2012, Kaveri began writing The Coorg Table ®, her blog on the cuisine of Coorg, based on continuing research and conversations and she is considered an authority on the subject. Through her blog, she reaches out to readers, chefs and home cooks across the world, encouraging them to explore the cuisine of this small but distinctive culture.
“It was while researching my book, The Vanishing Kodavas that I had first-hand experience of seeing how a cuisine is born out of a particular landscape, culture and history. Coming together over food was the easiest way to communicate with people,” says Kaveri. I began to see the food I had loved to eat and cook in its most intimate and familiar settings, and the way it grew out a particular place, its social and cultural context.”
Kaveri draws on her background in literature and anthropology to inspire her writing: “I am fascinated by the history of food and the cultural aspects of food and cooking and find great pleasure in reading about food experiences described in beautiful prose. This is a passion that has taken me on incredible journeys across the world, and India, from the smallest, most nondescript eateries and home kitchens to world-renowned restaurants. I’m particularly interested in the cultural context of food.” A dedicated home cook, all the food presented on the blog is cooked by Kaveri and the photographs are styled by her.
Most recently, Kaveri has been contributing writer for the Bloomsbury Handbook of Indian Cuisine(Bloomsbury Academic 2023), where she has written on Kodava Cuisine & a number of other entries.
For more about Kaveri’s books, please click on the below mentioned links:
The Vanishing Kodavas – https://www.thevanishingkodavas.com/vanishing_kodavas
A Place Apart – Poems from Kodagu – https://www.coorg.com/online-shop/books/a-place-apart-poems-from-kodagu/
SOME KIND WORDS FROM READERS OF THE COORG TABLE :
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.
Marryam H Reshii
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.
The Kuppanda Family in Sydney, Australia
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.