Shivamogga district, a gastronomer’s haven offers a heady mix of traditional Udupi and highly scientific Malenadu cuisine. Shimoga is home to the Havyaka Brahmins who have adopted the age-old methods for cooking using locally available leaves, fruits, barks and agricultural produce that is season specific.
Every dish prepared by them be it gojjus, hashi, chutneys, tambli, pickles and sweets are designed to maintain the optimum body temperature, improve digestion and increase immunity. It is quite common to see a healthy dose of medicinal plants (leaves and roots) incorporated in some way in the preparation of every dish.
Genasale is a signature dish of Shimoga and finds an important place as an evening snack or as a dessert. It is made from rice, jaggery, coconut and spices.
Rice is soaked for a few hours, cleaned and ground into a fine paste with coconut. A little salt is added and the mixture is then cooked on a pan on low flame. It is necessary to stir it till it becomes thick.
Meanwhile, the filling is prepared with jaggery, freshly grated coconut and cardamom powder and allowed to cool. Bay leaves or turmeric or banana leaves are used for steaming this delicious sweet.
The leaves are washed and smeared with a drop of freshly prepared coconut oil. The rice mixture is patted down on the leaf and a generous helping of the coconut filling is added. The leaf is folded and steamed for a few minutes.
The steamed rice dumplings are deftly removed from the leaves and served hot with a dollop of homemade ghee.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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