Food is always the most exciting part of my travel blogs and when the cuisine is traditional and regional and rustic, then my joy (and jaw) goes into overdrive 😀
The primary focus in Chiguru farm, is on authentic local cuisine which is also farm fresh and cooked fresh.
Literally from farm to fork or in this case from field to finger … for one has to use the hand to swipe up all that delectable food off fresh banana leaves, the meals here are full of flavor and provide you with a gastronomical experience of the most native kind.
So let us hop on to the long wooden bench in the community dining hall and explore what the village ladies are conjuring up for us.
Read on for Part 2 of 3 – Chiguru Farm, The Cuisine
The Cuisine –
As mentioned above, the local cuisine is adhered to and the recipes are hyper local. The cooks who hail from the surrounding villages, use their own methods and processes that they employ in their own homes. None of the basic recipes have been tampered with or altered.
The villagers of the local Kanakapura region use a lot of ragi, millets, coconut etc in their food. Apart from these, whatever vegetables and grains that are grown on the farm are also incorporated in the traditional recipes. On an average, nearly 70% of the ingredients used daily are from the farm, with only a few being sourced from the surrounding markets.
Ragi is quite the star of the show here, with many staples like muddey, rotti, dosa, ambili etc making an appearance in rotation on a daily basis.
As far as possible, there is usage of unrefined elements like whole grain, jaggery, locally pressed oils etc.
Cooking methods are simple and deep frying is avoided to a large extent other than the occasional Bajji (fritter) or Poori … and after one eats liberal amounts of their banana bajji, one is guaranteed to have no complaints with this method 😀
Freshness of the food is not compromised upon and all the 4 meals of breakfast, lunch, tea time snacks and dinner, feature new items. The food is not carried over to the next day or even the next meal. Also nothing goes to waste since the staff, the animals and even the compost pits take care of the remaining food as well as the banana leaves and arecanut plates that the meal is served on.
The dining space –
Keeping in sync with the farm environment, the dining room is a large hall furnished with long wooden benches and tables for community dining. The kitchen is also in this hall and separated from the dining area by a low wall.
The decor is very simple and typical of a traditional village home and looks even more charming at night.
Bunches of bananas, ripening jackfruit, sacks of tamarind etc are strewn around in the corners. The exposed brick walls sport a few framed pictures of birds that have been photographed on the farm.
The hall also has a mezzanine loft which functions as dormitory accommodation for volunteers and long term visitors and campers.
Typical meals through the day –
The first meal of the day gives you an idea of how the rest of your food is going to look like and it is a very exciting sight and insight indeed 😀
The breakfast is usually served around 9 am and typically offers 4-5 items with one main dish and accompanying chutney, sambhar, palya and sweet. This is usually served on a biodegradable arecanut leaf plate.
The main dish usually is ragi dosa, thattey idli, upma, avalakki, sevai etc
Tea/coffee are available all day on demand. I am not a tea/coffee drinker but my companion was besotted by their excellent filter coffee. I indulged in fresh lime juice sweetened with jaggery.
Lunch is an thrilling affair and the mere sight of the Yeley (banana leaf) that it is most yEle’gantly served on, is enough to whet the appetite. The cooks serve the various items onto the leaf and it is hard to watch the process without yele’ing out in excitement. Ok enough of the Yelay wordpYelay 😀
A normal spread consists of items like ragi muddey or ragi rotti or akki rotti, a mixed rice or millet dish, kosambari (salad), palya (vegetable), chutney, unpolished rice, sambhar, rasam, curd, buttermilk, papad, pickle etc.
Traditional sweets like payasam, holige, laddoo, kesari baath and so on, are served as dessert.
It is notable that all these items are produced in-house including the papads, pickles etc.
Apart from some well known vegetables, it is also very interesting to sample some of the seasonal and unusual fare like raw jackfruit dishes, sunadakkai (Turkey berry), banana stem and flower, hongane soppu (sessile joyweed) etc.
During the mango season, their meals are quite the mango bonanza and one should not fail to visit at that time.
Tea time –
So you will emerge from the dining room in a coma after this huge spread and you will swear not to look at food for the rest of the day. And then at 5 pm a temptress (cook) will concoct some more magic in the form of bajjis (fritters) or bonda or churmuri (seasoned savory puffed rice) etc and you will succumb 😎
When in season, even fresh fruit is served and you can also experience the joy of peeling and processing what you are going to gorge on.
This meal is supposedly light, as per their definition 😀 and consists of chapathis, sabji, mixed rice, curd etc and is served on steel plates or arecanut leaf plates.
So to summarize, here are a few ‘moving moments’ from the dining room 😀
Special requests –
Within the ambit of the vegetarian cuisine, one can request for a wide range of customization. One can specifically request for Jain food, vegan fare, foods related to health concerns or any particular nutritional need etc
Cooking demos –
Guests who are interested in learning a few traditional dishes, can spend time in the kitchen interacting with and observing the cooks.
One can also offer to cook alongside, especially if one has an unusual recipe that matches the ingredients and cuisine. I had fun showing them how to make my special banana skin chutney which tasted even better than usual because of the high quality of the bananas.
My meals –
I indulged a range of delectable dishes during my 2 day stay at the farm. It is hard to choose favorites but the Khara chutney, bassaru and tender banana stem kosambri stole my heart and palate.
Also, I am not really a jackfruit person but the fruit which we had the privilege of tasting (nay gorging on), was the sweetest one I have ever had in my life. So delicious that it could have given honey an inferiority complex 😀
Sale of organic produce –
Some of the organic fruits, vegetables, pulses, flours etc, are available on sale. Raghu usually sells them via a Whatsapp group. However, despite begging him, I was unable to get another jackfruit to take back home. I have warned him that I will be back to haunt the place again 😀
I did manage an impressive collection of some other items though.
Can you name the numbered items? Let me know in comments 😀
If you are interested in buying such fabulously flavorful fresh farm produce, then make sure to get on his Whatsapp group.
Please Note – This trip was made in collaboration with Chiguru Farm. The narrative is based on the inputs that I received from various sources as well as my own experiences.
This itinerary was specially curated hence some of the features might have been personalized accordingly. Before booking, please check the facilities offered in your package.
March 26th-28th, 2021