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.