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Thursday, May 03, 2018

Culinarist Smita Hegde, who specialises in Karwar and Kolhapuri cuisine, believes in eating the food that you have grown up with and is available locally

Ihave been cooking since the age of 13, learning traditional recipes of Karwar from my grandmother and mother. After marriage, I learnt traditional recipes from Kolhapur from my mother-in- law. I have always been passionate about cooking and feeding my family and friends. I got into this culinary world in a professional way in 2016 and ever since then it has been an amazing food journey, meeting different home chefs from various parts of the country, getting a glimpse of their regional cooking and also learning about their food and cultural habits. I have now started a venture called The Happy Apron, which caters food from Karwar and Kolhapur.

I have always believed in eating what grows locally and is seasonal. Also I always advocate to eat what you have grown up eating.

Now since the summer has arrived and the temperatures are soaring. I feel it’s important to have food that is a bit cooling to the body. In every region of India the cuisine is unique and food is prepared using locally available ingredients. Since I come from Karnataka I am used to eating mild food, which has a strong influence of coconut, since the coast is known for fish, rice and coconut as their staple meal. But for personal reasons, I turned vegetarian when I was eight years old. So as a child I have lived on Dalitoi (ginger-flavoured dal with a coconut oil tadka, rice and batatya phodi (pan fried potatoes). As a child I vividly remember mum making dalitoi, rice and phodi for most of my meals but when the sultry hot summers set in she would cook a lot of gourds like ridge gourd (turiya) snake gourd (padval) ash gourd (kohala/ petha). So these vegetables would be simply sauted in coconut oil and garnished with fresh grated coconut or would be cooked like a stew in coconut milk. It was a treat had with neer dosa. In the summers I recommend less oily and spicy food so that you do not end up suffering from acidity (though, on the other hand, when you have spicy and oily food you tend to drink a lot of water and hence will never feel dehydrated.

For example, generally food in central Maharashtra is spicy even in the summers, like your thecha, lasnichi chutney. Some spicy curries are served along with the bhakris. I often wondered why people eat spicy food in summers and it was only when I went to Nagpur and met a family who served us delicious food that was extremely spicy and when I asked they gave me the above reason.

Eating melons and juicy fruits is always good in the summers. But don't give up on the mangoes as they are seasonal and best for Vitamin A and C.

So enjoy your summer eating the seasonal fruits and vegetables and on that note let me share a simple recipe for this summer.

Smita Hegde is a a culinarist specialising in Karwar and Kolhapur cuisine. She is author of a cookbook, Karwar to Kolhapur via Mumbai, in which she has stories of her childhood woven around traditional recipes.


  • 6 small variety mangoes
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • A pinch of asafoetida
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 5 dry red byadgi chillies broken
  • 5 green chillies slit
  • Few curry leaves
  • 1 cup fresh coconut grated
  • 1/4 cup jaggery
  • Salt to taste

1. Peel the mangoes and keep them aside
2. Heat the oil and splutter the mustard seeds and add the asafoetida, chillies and curry leaves
3. Add the mangoes and add 1 litre of water
4. Add the jaggery, coconut and salt and on a medium flame cover and cook  
5. Serve this spicy, sour sweet curry with chapatti or rice

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