If Coorg were a season, she would be the monsoon. The land sparkles and welcomes –for most of the year –but when the rains come up from the coast, she draws grey clouds over herself and bares her tempestuous soul. The outlines of the indigo hills grow nebulous, indistinct and an air of hushed uncertainty hangs over everyday life as the whole world dissolves into mud and mire, puddles, pools, streams, water and the steady roar of rain. Brief interludes bring the steady dripping of collected water, and a sighing wind. Well-trodden paths disappear abruptly in swirls of mist and you can barely see a foot ahead. Undergrowth creeps forward overnight, stealthy, crowding the boundaries of field and home. The few flowers left in rain battered gardens seized by Nature grow on unnaturally tall, contorted stalks waiting to be bent and swayed in a wild dance by cold winds. Violent little streams, the colour of milky coffee flow everywhere, carrying away quantities of earth, leaving sharp, ivory toned stones exposed on un-tarred roads, like ancient bones dug up at an archaeological site. Fires take forever to kindle; all that your coaxing draws out is a sibilant hissing and a defiant flurry of spit bubbles from the sodden firewood. Homes smell damp, masked with the fragrance of sambrani, incense burned on coals. Heaps of wet clothes lie spread on domed wicker frames over a tin of burning coals, steam rising heavily from them into the moisture-laden air. Under dark grey skies, the past seems more alive than ever, the old stories and myths of the land more real as we hunch over cups of hot coffee in our rain battered homes,and try and catch leaks and drips in basins. Nature rampages untamed; ferocious tangles of vines, creepers and leaves threaten to possess houses; moisture leaves footprints of moss and black fungus on tiles and walls. It’s a cold, wet, melancholy season; a season of harsh and profound beauty. Under dripping canopies are secret, exquisite, miniature worlds: of sudden clear pools of water, fallen leaves, moss and lichen. The teasing, moody land tosses up precious seasonal luxuries: tender bamboo shoots; colocasia; the ripe fruit of Garcinia gummi-gutta to make a year’s supply of kachampuli and the tattered leaves of Justicia wynaadensis, known simply as the ‘medicinal leaf’. The soaked leaves and stems of this plant stain water an extraordinary shade of indigo, releasing a potent combination of 18 different medicinal properties that come into full strength while the rain pounds the earth during this season. Vessels bubble with dark blue waters in every home, and we eat quantities of madde puttu; madde kool; madde payasa–all fragrant, with a powerful, herbal flavour, all stained that deep, mysterious monsoon blue –and fortify ourselves to resist the weather. Cold, wet, always damp, we wait out the season, feasting, warming ourselves. But we are never certain if we are truly happy, truly relieved when the skies finally clear, and the first rays of sunshine announce that the monsoon has gone.

Image Credits: Nithin Sagi
All Food Styling: Kaveri Ponnapa

Thank you for visiting this page. If you read something that you enjoy, or see an image that you like, please take a moment to write a response. Do look out for the recipes of all the food featured here in my upcoming cookbook.

Kaveri Ponnapa

Kaveri Ponnapa is a widely published independent writer on food, wine and heritage, based in Bengaluru. Her features appear in leading publications. She graduated with a Master’s Degree in Social Anthropology from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.

  1. sangeeta khanna says:

    Wow this looks like such a treat. I had loved the Madde kool, the purple rice pudding you posted earlier and this cake looks so exotic. Much like Vietnamese rice cakes but beautifully colored.

    Thank you for sharing.

    1. Kaveri Ponnapa says:

      Hi Sangeeta, great to see you on this page. I know that this post will appeal to you a great deal, with your interest in and knowledge of local Indian foods. I hope that you are in Coorg-or at least nearby-some day, and that I can make some versions of this unusual food for you. Warm regards.Kaveri

  2. Vidhya Viju Govind says:

    Just spoke to my friend in Coorg and we discussed this maddu puttu. ..so nostalgic to read about what you have grown up with…I’m going to Coorg this weekend and can’t wait to feel the homely air of that place…

    1. Kaveri Ponnapa says:

      Hello Vidhya, thank you for taking the time to write in. I am so glad you enjoyed the post. Have a wonderful trip to Coorg, and I hope that you will get to eat some madde puttu at your friend’s home. Best wishes. Kaveri

    1. Kaveri Ponnapa says:

      Thank you very much for the share, Bopanna, there are so many people interested in the properties of this plant. So glad you enjoyed the post, do keep reading these pages. Best wishes. Kaveri

  3. Priya Anand says:

    Never heard of this… So much traditional wisdom and what a magical plant it must be! The puttu looks out of the world and so is your whole storytelling – enchanting narration and captivating photography… Thank you!

    I must find out if this plant grows here, or get a cutting or seeds next time I visit Coorg.

    1. Kaveri Ponnapa says:

      Hello Priya, thank you very much for writing in. It’s great to hear that you enjoyed the post and the pictures that go with it. The monsoon is a very special time of the year in Coorg, and when we were children, it was as if we were marooned on small islands, the rain was so heavy and unrelenting. The beauty was that kitchens overflowed with monsoon produce,so we had something to look forward to every day.It’s changed a great deal now, but the monsoon foods still come in, for which I am very grateful. I hope you get a chance to try out some madde puttu. Do keep visiting these pages. Best wishes. Kaveri

  4. Asha Balakrishnan says:

    Hi Kaveri! Got here through the link on native Indian foods….Your name sounded familiar…not sure if you have contributed to Deccan Herald’s magazine section..or it must be my association with the kodavas…can’t say 🙂
    Loved your write up, composition skills and thanks for sharing this info on madde…so much of native wisdom in our culture. Thanks to people like you who showcase them. BTW, Coorg was our favorite weekend getaway when we were in Bangalore…have made some memorable visits to this place during tulu sankramana and other times… here is one of my experience just in case you would be interested. http://shreshar.blogspot.in/2012/02/scotland-in-our-backyard-coorg.html

    1. Kaveri Ponnapa says:

      Hello Asha, welcome to The Coorg Table! I’m delighted that you enjoyed the post and pictures -you must have been able to relate to it easily, since you have visited Coorg often. Please have a look at some of the other posts, there is much more about the local cuisine. I’m glad you enjoyed your visits ,I will certainly have a look at your link. As you are interested in Coorg, do have a look at this: http://www.thevanishingkodavas.com Do keep writing in, and visiting these pages. Best wishes. Kaveri

  5. Kaverappa Padeyanda says:

    This year yet to have madde puttu…last year enjoyed eating..nice writing, lovely images, good collection of vessels. It is always nice to read your posts. It always takes us to our old jolly days… Thanks for posting! Happy Kakkada…

    1. Kaveri Ponnapa says:

      Happy Kakkada 18th,to you and your family, Kaverappa! I hope that you get a chance to eat madde puttu before the season ends, it has such a special flavour over and above all the good properties, and as you say, it takes us right back to the old days. I am really happy that you enjoyed the post. Warm wishes. Kaveri

  6. Meenakshi Arun says:

    I spent a pleasant two hours browsing through your blog, reading, re-reading and drooling over the pictures. When I shared this piece on Facebook, I could summarize it as “Read, gasp, salivate” 🙂 Thank you for the generous sharing of timeless wisdom and practices. Looking forward to more! Best wishes, Meenakshi

    1. Kaveri Ponnapa says:

      Hi Meenakshi, thank you very much for visiting The Coorg Table, and sharing my post. I’m so glad that you found the page interesting -as you say, this is an incredible inheritance of ancient foods and cooking practices, we are just so fortunate that the traditions were still there for us to absorb. Please keep visiting these pages, I hope here will be more for you to enjoy here. Warm wishes. Kaveri

  7. Uma Naganand says:

    Mysterious Magica l&Tempting are all what I felt as I read .. imagined ..& then saw the Indigo coloured puttu madde! Kaveri I have been twice to Coorg but this” Indigo gem” eluded me or maybe we were’nt in the thick of monsoons(though it rained)Your writing .. the recipe & the moods created were fascinating..will wait to taste Puttu madde & now am armed with a new Coorg(Kodava?) word to flaunt before my other Coorg friends!. Your writings &recipes are getting addictive for me.. & I look forward to your blogs .Thank you for sharing such authentic recipes & flavours of Coorg. warm wishes Uma

    1. Kaveri Ponnapa says:

      Hi Uma, I hope you get a chance to try out this dish on one of your trips to Coorg, it’s quite an acquired taste. Thank you very much for appreciating this page so generously. I love what I do, and sharing good food is a joy for me. Do keep visiting and writing in, getting addicted to this page sounds like a very good idea! Warm wishes.Kaveri

  8. Diya Uthaiah says:

    Hello,
    Can you please provide me maddh putt recipe…
    I have heard that we can prepare maddh putt in rice, rava and with wheat flour (maida flour).
    Can you please tell in which item it is good to prepare madh putt, with full recipe.

    1. Kaveri Ponnapa says:

      Hello Diya, the full recipe for Madde Puttu is already up on this post. If you scroll through to the end of the article, you will find the detailed instructions. Personally, I stick to the traditional method of using short grain rice, which is what I have given in the recipe. This is the method I have used for many years, and it comes out perfect every time. Do follow the recipe given above, I am sure you will have good madde puttu. You can always write to me if you need to clarify anything about the process. Best wishes. Kaveri

  9. Uma kariappa says:

    maddh puttu came out very well with your recipe .thank you! Share some more traditional ones.

    1. Kaveri Ponnapa says:

      Hi Uma, I’m so glad that the recipe worked well for you, and that you enjoyed madde puttu. There are already many traditional recipes up on the blog, which you can browse through, and more to come. Do keep visiting these pages. Best wishes. Kaveri

  10. Nancy says:

    I so wish I could have made a journey to Coorg while I lived in Bangalore for a short few years. Alas, it was not to be and I have missed a very special place. Thank you for making this place come alive on the page. I so want to taste that lovely blue cake!

    1. Kaveri Ponnapa says:

      And I hope that you get a chance to visit Coorg sometime soon, Nancy, before it changes forever. I am so glad you enjoyed the blog, please keep visiting these pages, and I would love to hear from you whenever you have the time. Warm wishes. Kaveri

  11. Neethu says:

    My mum’s side of the family is from coorg and I have visited the scenic place a few times….your beautiful and captivating writing reminds me of my Granny’s tales about her life in coorg…..can’t stop myself from admiring the photography and food styling will definitely be trying the recipes especially the mango pickle…thank you for inspiring me, I’m going to be an ardent follower

    1. Kaveri Ponnapa says:

      Hello Neethu, welcome to The Coorg Table, and I look forward very much to seeing you on these pages as often as possible. I am so happy to hear that these posts revive memories of stories your grandmother told you- each of us has our own special version of a place. It’s wonderful that you have a Coorg connection that has stayed with you. Do try out all the recipes, and I would be happy to know how they turned out, I welcome feedback.Warm wishes. Kaveri

  12. Sujaya Narula says:

    Thank you so much, love going through your blog😊 Besides traditional recipes which i am always keen to know more about, your style of writing and images are so elegant and unique, everythings looks and feels exotic😄

    1. Kaveri Ponnapa says:

      Welcome to The Coorg Table, Sujaya and thank you very much for taking the time to write in. I love to be able to connect with a reader and know how they have reacted to a post. Do keep reading, and I hope that you will always find something to interest you on these pages. Warm wishes. Kaveri

  13. ASLESHA says:

    Am hoarding “Madh Leaf Extract” to make when Children visit in Dec.
    Made some Madh Kool today just to see if it works………………it is awesome!! The rich purple colour of the 18th Day and the aroma of the dish is all over the house!!
    The visuals in your above article are so mouth -wateringly gorgeous!

    1. Kaveri Ponnapa says:

      The aroma of the madde kool all over the house is something very special, Aslesha. I can smell it as you write. I’m sure the extract will last, I have kept it refrigerated for months, and it keeps well. I hope your family enjoys a batch when they visit. So glad you like the images! Warm wishes. Kaveri

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