December 20, 2014
The last chapter of Soopa Shastra contains recipes for cooking with bamboo sprouts (shoots) and Indian gooseberry or amalaka (emblic myrobalan). Following is a sampling of these recipes and a summary of the detailed appendix that was included in Krishna Jois’s Kannada prose compilation of Mangarasa’s work. This extensive appendix includes several extracts of various Kannada writers spanning the periods of 920 A.D. to 1700 A.D. K.T. Achaya in his Indian Food a Historical Companion summarizes the names of various food items in the order in which they were first mentioned in these literary works over a period of eight centuries.
Bamboo Sprouts (shoots)
Bamboo shoots are widely used in various Asian cuisines. Bamboo shoots are the edible shoots of the bamboo plant. Bamboo shoot is a much loved delicacy of the monsoon season in the hill districts of Karnataka (Mangarasa was from Karnataka region).
Beginning in late May, emerging culms are harvested and the sliced shoots are processed by soaking in plenty of fresh water for 24 hours. This serves to leach out much of the acid present in some varieties of bamboo. These shoots impart a distinctive fragrance to dishes prepared with them.
Steamed Bamboo Sprout Cakes
Boil tender bamboo sprouts in water to remove the astringent taste. Squeeze out the water and cut them into very small pieces. Combine the chopped bamboo sprouts with grated ginger, onion, coriander leaves, grated coconut, salt, and milk mixed with water to make a thick batter. Make cups by pinning betel leaves and smear the insides of the cups with ghee. Pour the prepared batter into these cups and steam cook. This will make fragrant bamboo sprout cakes.
Fried Bamboo Sprouts
Boil tender bamboo sprouts in water to remove the astringent taste. Squeeze out the water and grind them till soft. Stir in grated ginger, chopped onion, salt, curry leaves and asafoetida and mix well. Steam cook this batter till it is dry. Combine it with soaked rice and urad dal and grated coconut and grind into a smooth thick batter. Take small quantities of this batter and deep fry. These fries can be served as is or added to soups.
Bamboo Sprout Porridge
Boil tender bamboo sprouts thoroughly in water to make them very soft and remove the astringent taste. Squeeze out the water and reduce it to a flour like consistency. Allow it to cool and when it is thickened cut into very small pieces. Mix with rice or wheat flour and make a dough. Roll the dough out and cook over coals. Boil milk with sugar and sweet spices such as cardamom, saffron or cinnamon. Stir in some butter to this seasoned milk. Cut the bamboo sprout cakes into small pieces and add flavored milk. This is a tasty porridge.
Bamboo Sprout Soup
Boil cut tender bamboo sprout pieces in water mixed with lime. Squeeze out the water and wash them again in hot water and again squeeze out the water. Season well with ghee. Prepare a thick soup with any vegetable and add these bamboo sprouts to it and cook for a while. Season with salt and black pepper and ghee.
Amlaka or Indian Gooseberry
Indian Gooseberry known as Amlaka, or Amalaki in Sanskrit, is a marble sized fruit. The leafy amlaka tree produces pale green berries with a naturally sour taste that can be eaten raw or cooked. Its juice is rich in natural antioxidants. It is greenish-yellow in color and has innumerable health benefits. The importance of gooseberry is described in Ayurvedic texts dating back to thousands of years. Even today, Ayurvedic practitioners use this wonder herb to treat and heal plenty of health ailments without any unwanted or harmful effects. It is used in preparing various ayurvedic medications. Gooseberry is one of the richest natural sources of vitamin C. The unique thing about this fruit is that the ascorbic acid found is nearly indestructible even by burning or drying it.
Boil well grown gooseberries in water and strain. Boil them again in water mixed with coriander leaves and salt. Remove any excess water. Grind together fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, and turmeric together and mix with the cooked berries. Add oil and mix well. This will be an aromatic and tasty side dish.
Cut well grown gooseberries into very small pieces and mix with salt, ginger and onion and pan-fry in ghee. Powder coriander seeds, cumin seeds, asafoetida, fenugreek and turmeric powder and mix it with the cooked berries. Sprinkle chana dal flour (besan) and stir well. Season with mustard seeds fried in ghee or oil. Pack it in turmeric leaves and heat over embers of a wood burning stove. Powder the mix by pounding it. This powder tastes great with rice and hot ghee.
Heat milk and add gooseberry pieces. The milk will split. Strain and collect the fresh cheese and mix it with powdered gooseberries. Knead well and shape into balls the size of betel nuts. Take soaked rice, urad dal and grated coconut in right proportions and grind them well with milk and prepare a soup. Add the prepared gooseberry balls into this soup. These balls may also be soaked in jaggery syrup to make a sweet version. They also go well with the water from boiled horse gram.
Appendix to Soopa Shastra Edited and Transcribed to Kannada Prose by S.N. Krishna Jois
Soopa Shastra of Mangarasa III is one of the earliest works exclusively on the subject of south Indian cookery. Although the History of Kannada Literature mentions of a previous work on cookery by Jayabhandunandana, the name of the book is not mentioned. Mangarasa’s treatise was transcribed into prose by S.N. Krishna Jois in 1969 after consulting nine available manuscripts of the work. Krishna Jois’s work also includes an extensive appendix with several extracts of various Kannada writers spanning the periods of 920 A.D. to 1700 A.D. These Kannada writings were in the form either whole books or long chapters, or detailed descriptions of religious or secular feasts. Both the availability of food articles and the gradual evolution of the cuisine of Karnataka are well documented in the regional language in these literary works. K.T. Achaya in his Indian Food a Historical Companion summarizers the names of various food items in the order in which they were first mentioned in these literary works over a period of eight centuries. These Kannada literary works are:
Vaddaradane by Sivakotyacharya (920 AD) describes iddalige, purige, sodhige, lavange, ghratapuran and mandage.
Sukumaracharite by Shantinatha (1068 AD) describes bamboo shoots in yogurt, pearl-like padalige (a dessert), undige, madakangalu.
Basavaragale by Harihara (1165 AD) describes ogara – various cooked rice preparations, melogara (vegetable savories) and bisumborige.
Siddaramacharita by Raghavanka (1200 AD) describes happala (papads) and balaka (vegetables soaked in yogurt, spiced and then dried and fried).
Parshvanatha Puranaby Parshva Pandita (1222 AD) describes holige and sarvalingeya payasa (made with thin wheat noodles).
Shanthiswara Purana by Kamalabhava (1235 AD) describes shali-anna (kesari bath) and a bead like payasam (sago based).
Prabhulingaleele by Chamarasa (1430 AD) describes nunchi unde – steamed tuvar dal cakes served with yogurt.
Sanatkumaracharite by Terekanambi Bommarasa (1485 AD) describes kajayya, eggplant baji, raita, pachadi and palidhya (ogurt and buttermilk relishes) and the sweet rice preparation paramanna.
Siddeswara Purana by Virakata Thonda Darya (1560 AD) describes Sevige dosai and chakkali.
Channabasava Purana by Virupaksha Pandita (1584 AD) describes seekarane made with thick fruit pulp and eaten with milk.
Lingapurana, sandhi 8 by Gurulinga Desik (1594 AD) describes srikhand, various types of kadubu, rice or chana cooked with soma (wine?) and salt, thambittu and various vegetable dishes.
Soundara Vilasa by Annaji (1600 AD) describes athirasa, obbattu, manohara unde, wheat payasa, sweet burude, and jilabi.
Prabhudeva Purana by Yelanduru Harishwara (1606 AD) describes sandige, radish and cucumber pachadi, mixed rice and wheat payasa, rice and banana sukhivade and grapefruit.
Bhujjabal charite by Pancha Bana (1614 AD) describes a variety of vegetable dishes cooked with complex spice mixtures.
Kantheerava Narsa Rajendra Vijaye by Govinda Vaidya (1648 AD) describes huli with thuvar dal, thambalu, panner and sweet rotis called sanjeevani and kalisagara.
Jaimini Bharata by Lakshmeesha (1700 AD) describes kacchadi.
Mauneshwara Bala Leele by Ayyappa (1700 AD) describes kosamri of chana, vada made with colocasia leaves and holige.
Achaya, K.T. Indian Food: A Historical Companion. Oxford University Press 1994
Bhatt, N.P. & Modwel, Nerupama Y. (Editors) Konatambigi, Madhukar (Translator) Culinary Traditions of Medieval Karnataka. B.R. Publishing Corporation, Delhi 2012Doniger, Wendy Purāṇa perennis: reciprocity and transformation in Hindu and Jaina texts. State Univ. of New York Press, 1993.
Kamat, Jyotsna K. Social Life in medieval Karnataka, Abhinav Publications, New Delhi 1980
R. Narasimhacharya M.A., M.R.A.S History of Kannada Literature University of Mysore Publication 1940