In September 2019, I was invited to curate a Coorg Food Festival being held at the iconic Leela Palace Hotel, Bengaluru, which enjoys a reputation for presenting outstanding cuisines from across the world in luxurious surroundings. At the same time, Karen Anand, author of numerous books on food and columnist at the Hindustan Times Brunch and the Sunday Telegraph, wrote to me, requesting me to introduce her to the cuisine of Kodagu. She had read my blog, The Coorg Table, and was struck by the evocative photographs and lyrical prose which held the traditions, flavours, aromas and life in Coorg.
We met at the Leela Palace Bengaluru, where, over a lunch of pandi curry, kadambuttus baimbale and more, we spoke about Kodagu and its distinctive cuisine, before Karen drove to Madikeri. Shortly after her visit, she wrote a wonderful piece in the Hindustan Times Brunch featuring my classic pandi curry.
Masala Memsahib is Karen’s latest book, a deeply personal account of her engagement with food over the decades, filled with recipes and interesting anecdotes. Suffused with Karen’s infectious energy and love of good food, it’s a most enjoyable read.I am delighted to be a part of it, with a classic pandi curry and a kai kumbala curry from my kitchen featured in the book. Karen describes me as ‘a food writer who writes and looks like she has stepped out of a nineteenth-century romantic novel.’ I love the image it conjures up, especially since I am a very practical, hands-on Kodavathi home cook!