Today I’m posting a recipe for Kotte Kadubu, which are similar to Idlis. These are a festive breakfast preparation, especially for Ganesh Chathurthi, from the Karavali region or coastal Karnataka. Making Kotte Kadubu involves pouring a rice and lentil batter into little “baskets” or Kotte fashioned from Jackfruit leaves. They’re softer, bigger, a different shape, texture and appearance than regular Idlis. I understand that they’re also called “Gunda” in some parts of Karnataka. Kadubu are eaten with Chutney and/ or Sambhar. Note the leaves are to be unwrapped and discarded.
The batter used to make these Kadubu is similar to that used to make Idli. You can use you preferred Idli batter recipe and make these. The Jackfruit leaf moulds/ baskets add a mild flavour to the rice cakes. For each Kadubu, four medium sized tender Jackfruit leaves are stitched together into a small basket/ cup. The leaves are stitched together using inch long green sticks made from the spine or midrib of the coconut leaf. If stitched together properly, the leaves make a leak proof basket or container. If you can’t find Jackfruit leaves, banana leaves arranged in small steel water glasses will also work as the Kotte.
Cooking food wrapped in leaves has long been done in many cuisines across the world. This practise is quite common across India, South Asian cuisines and other parts of the world. In India, regional cuisines use whatever leaves grow locally. In the South where I live, some of the leaves of choice are of the banana and turmeric plants, the Indian bayleaf, and Jackfruit leaves. Other leaves use across India are Mantharai leaveas (Bauhinia Variegata), Banyan, Sal and Screwpine tree.
I’m quite interested in exploring how this practise of cooking in leaves is done, especially throughout India. So you will see more of these posts as time goes by. Across Karnataka, it is a common practise to use Idli rava or broken Idli rice to make Idli or Kotte Kadubu. This gives Idlis a slightly different texture than if one grinds the rice into a batter. I have chosen to use a mix of Idli rice and Njavara rice an Indian heritage rice from Kerala. You can use all Idli rice or a mix of Idli rice and a raw rice of your choice. Also, if you can find skinned whole Black gram lentils (urad dal) use that. Whole skinned lentils make fluffier Idlis for some reason, than the split lentils. Fenugreek seeds and beaten rice flakes (Aval) also make softer and fluffier Idlis.
- 1 cup Njavara rice
- 2 cups Idli rice
- 1 gram cup skinned whole or split black gram lentils urad dal
- 2 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1/4 cup thick beaten rice flakes optional
- Salt to taste
- leaves jackfruit four for each kadubu or idli
- Fresh green coconut leaf sticks or tooth picks
- Wash and soak the Idli and Njavara rices in water for about 5 to 6 hours. Also soak the lentils and fenugreek seeds for 3 hours. Drain the rices and lentils completely and discard the water.
- Wash the rice flakes. Grind the rice with the beaten rice flakes, if using, and enough water till smooth. Do not add too much water as the final batter should be somewhat like thick pancake batter in consistency. Transfer to a large container, large enough to let the total batter rise to almost double volume.
- Also grind the lentils and fenugreek seeds with water till smooth and fluffy but not watery. Transfer to the container with the rice batter. Using your hand, mix together till well blended. Cover loosely and let it rise overnight or at least 8 hours. It will ferment, rise till almost double in volume and develop a slight tang.
- Once the batter has fermented, add salt to taste. Mix well. Make Khotte or little baskets out of the Jackfruit leaves. Stitch together the tips of four leaves using the coconut leaf stick pieces. Then pull one leaf up with the stalk end pointing upwards. Pull the leaf next to it also upwards and join the edges together and stitch with one or two stick pieces. Repeat with the other two leaves forming a small basket or cup. Make as many baskets as requires. Two Kadubu should suffice per person. See the video link above in the text for a better idea on how to fashion the leaf baskets/ cups.
- Pour batter to fill 2/3rd of each Khotto or basket. Carefully arrange the baskets in a small tray or steamer pan. Ensure the water is boiling when you put the Kadubu batter for steaming. Steam cook for about 15 minutes till done. The surface of the Kadubu or rice cakes will be set and not sticky. A knife or skewer pushed in the middle should come out clean. Let it cool a bit. Serve with Chutney and/ or Sambhar. Note the leaves are to be unwrapped and discarded.