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380. Antiquity of iDli

The Idli being a steam cooked dish made of ground and fermented paste of rice and black gram can be considered as one of the healthiest ...

Sunday, April 1, 2007

12. Rotis: Early oil-free roasted vegetarian food

While tracing the evolutionary path of boiled grains to steam cooked idlis, it occurred to me that other tribes in the northwest India at that point of time, ca.3rd century BC, must be following different cooking methods. Greek reporters found the boiling of the grains a strange habit because the usual culinary custom was much different.

Dry roasting must have been popular in the early days of civilization, derived from the primeval habit of roasting meat over fire. The cultivation of the grains, logically lead to grinding of the grains and making a batter out of it. The batter was fashioned into a flat cake and roasted on the fire over the oven. Then probably the oil was not yet invented. Thus the early oil free tandoor roti was born.

The roti-roasting habit has also traveled to places. While wheat was the common staple food in northern India, the Jowar (JoLa) and other millets found acceptance in dry tracks of what- is- now Maharastra and northern Karnataka. Even today, the rotis made out of grains of JoLa are dry roasted without much oil.

Note that even the rice rotis (kori rotti etc) common in coastal Tulunad, it is similarly dry roasted types.

Therefore, I feel oil was not used extensively in cooking in the early days of civilization. Probably vegetable oils were used for lighting lamps in the beginning, rather than for cooking. After introduction of the oils in cooking, it appears that til oil was common in usage in drier regions like northern Karnataka, while coastal people, where coconut trees abound, were consuming coconut oil.

I hope this partly answers Manjunath’s query on usage of oils in northern Karnataka before the introduction of ground nuts some 500 years ago.

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Books for Reference

  • A Comparative Study of Tulu Dialects By Dr. Padmanabha Kekunnaya. Govinda Pai Reserach Centre, UDupi. 1994
  • Koti Chennaya: Janapadiya Adhyayana. By Dr. Vamana Nandavar. Hemanshu Prakashana ,Mangalore.2001.
  • Male kudiyaru. Dr B. A.Viveka Rai and D.Yadupathi Gowda, Mangalore University,1996.
  • Mogaveera Samskriti By Venkataraja Punimchattaya. Karnataka Sahitya Academy.1993.
  • Mugeraru:Jananga Janapada Adhyayana. By Dr Abhaya Kumar Kaukradi.Kannada & Culture Directorate,Bangalore & Karnataka Tulu Academy, Mangalore,1997.
  • Puttubalakeya Pad-danagalu. Ed: Dr B.A.Viveka Rai,Yadupati Gowda and Rajashri, Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheswara Tulu Peeta. Mangalore University.2004
  • Se'erige. Ed:Dr K.Chinnapa Gowda.Madipu Prakashana,Mangalagangotri,2000.
  • Studies in Tuluva History and Culture.by Dr P Gururaja Bhat (1975).Milagres College,Kallinapur,Udupi.
  • Taulava Sanskriti by Dr.B.A.Viveka Rai, Sahyadri Prakashana,Mysore 1977
  • TuLu naaDu-nuDi By Dr.PalthaDi Ramakrishna Achar, Puttur.
  • TuLu NighanTu. (Editor in Chief: Dr U.P.Upadhyaya, Govinda Pai Research Centre,Udupi. Six volumes. 1988 to 1997
  • Tulu Patero-A Philology & Grammar of Tulu Language by Budhananda Shivalli.2004.Mandira Prakashana Mangalore. p.317. (The book is in Tulu Language using Kannada script)
  • TuLunadina ShasanagaLa Sanskritika Adhyayana. By Shaila T. Verma (2002) Jnanodaya Prakashana,Bangalore, p.304.(Kannada)
  • Tuluvala Baliyendre. Compiled by N.A.Sheenappa Hegde,Polali,Sri Devi Prakashana,Parkala,1929/1999

A Coastal estuary

A Coastal estuary
Holegadde near Honavar,Uttara Kannada dist, Karnataka

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