Kumta: Main Street

The Vegetable market sits on one end of main street also called “paent” in Kumta. The stores are tiny and carry whatever you would need. Nothing fancy here, just life's essentials. Several temples are on this street, thus flower sellers everywhere.

Notice the reddish tinged road. That comes from the red Laterite rock this entire Konkan region sits atop. In the konkan, everything is made from laterite: buildings, fence walls, bus-stop shelters, stores and even road side gutters. Crushed laterite gravel is used on the shoulders of all roads. Even the dust has a reddish tinge and so does the normally black asphalt road. After a few days here white clothes include a tinge of red.

A stroll down Main Street
The Venkateshwara Devasthan/Muth is in the center of town. I love exploring the inside of this beautiful, old temple. Piles of sand and gravel outside point to imminent construction; pray nothing gaudy.

Nearby is the Shanteri Kamakshi Temple. A thread-ceremony was going on inside and these girls, dressed in new clothes, were welcoming guests. Women received flower strands for their hair, men (and women) got sprinkled with perfumed water. Note the girl in red reaching for the chrome sprinkler.

After walking in the hot sun, my cousin and I decided to gate-crash this ceremony for some cool lemonade and mithai. We smiled at the girls, got doused in perfumed water and smiled our way to the back of the temple where the lemonade was still being mixed. There as we waited, the assistant picked up a block of ice sitting on the bare floor and tossed it in the giant pot” I had no intention of getting an upset stomach at the start of my holidays. Mithai too was nowhere to be seen. After bowing my head at the shrine, we departed.

Right outside the temple I tried taking a pic of the squatting flower-seller, and this women walked right into my field. Her expression suggests she was carrying a huge burden on her already drooping shoulders.

Parched throats had us dash to the corner shop with the red and white awning (Nayak's Cold drinks). Note the women selling an assortment of flowers, vegetables or fruits. Generally whatever grows on their plot.

On the back table as we waited to order Limbu-soda, a local person still sitting there was sipping, what looked like a glass of cold-coffee. Raagi Neeru (Nanchane udak) he noted. I remembered my grandmother making Raagi Neeru for us kids playing in the hot summer sun. Apparently the owner's wife makes it at home – delicious. They also served Teela Udak (white sesame water). Had to try that as well. After a few glasses of each, we were well prepared to brave the midday sun. Note empty glasses on table.

Apparently a very simple recipe for these cool-drinks. Roasted Nanchane or white sesame seeds are ground with some coconut gratings, jaggery and water. Thats it. Ayurveda experts would swear at how it would 'cool' the body from the inside. Amen!

Other Kumta Related Posts:

Kumta: Jewel of the Konkan

pics of fresh vegetables and fruits market in Kumta by Arun Shanbhag
On every visit to India, I follow a similar schedule. We head to Goa to pay our respects at the Ramnathi Devasthan in Ponda. From there we head south along the coast to Kumta.

Kumta is a sleepy township. The busiest part of town is Main Street, called paent, which is only a few blocks long. The place for any and all your shopping. Its where all the locals 'hang-out' too. There is not much else to do in Kumta. Rest and relax.

And best of all – I get to speak konkani all over town! My konkani is good enough, I easily pass off as “from Mumbai” (which is not incorrect)! Yes, every shop-owner, rickshaw driver, stall-wallah, lady selling vegetables, and their brother speaks Konkani. 🙂 So even among strangers, I feel at home.

In the mornings, the local market is buzzing. It's only a few rows of vegetables and fruits. And not surprisingly, friendly folks and juicy vegetable and fruits everywhere.

Join me for a short tour of the Kumta Vegetable Market!
Continue reading “Kumta: Jewel of the Konkan”

Konkani Delicacy: Kadgi Chakko (Spicy Breadfruit)

Pics of Kadgi Chacko, a konkani delicacy by Arun Shanbhag
Kadgi Chakko is one of M’s signature dishes. At gatherings, she is always asked to make this and relishes the opportunity. Its one of my favorites too. Continue reading “Konkani Delicacy: Kadgi Chakko (Spicy Breadfruit)”

Kumta: Girls Making Papad

girls making papad in rural Kumta
I look forward to visiting Kumta, our ancestral home along the konkan coast. Lush green fields, coconut tree groves, red mud roads where lazy cows have the right of way. A place where I can speak konkani all over town.

Strolling through someone’s orchards, I came upon a small cinder-block shed buzzing with activity. Inside were a group of young girls busy making papad (konkani: haapoL). The girls were churning out hundreds of papad right before my eyes. Apparently one of the women had gotten a small loan, and started selling papad and other konkani foods to local restaurants and grocery stores. Continue reading “Kumta: Girls Making Papad”

Konkani Delicacies: Jackfruit Hapol & Vodi

photos of Jackfruit (Phanas) Happol by Arun Shanbhag
Yummy Jackfruit (Phanas) Happol makes a delicious snack

Deep-fried foods are rare in our home. We save it for our favorite konkani delicacies: Jackfruit (Phansa-) Hapol and Spicy Vodi. During our summer holidays in Honavar and Kumta, we kids helped make them. The women would roll the hapol and we would carry them up the rickety stairs to the temporary roof (mandal) made of palm fronds and spread them on the woven mats. As they dried in the blazing sun, the pattern of the mats could be seen on the hapol. (see girls making papad, and here too) For a light snack at any time, deep fry the hapol and serve with freshly grated coconut. Heavenly. A few months ago, one of our friends brought these back from Udupi. May she live long and prosper.

photos of Konkani delicacy vodi by Arun Shanbhag
Konkani delicacy fried Vodi

I think the spicy vodi are made with flour, garlic, red pepper and salt. Delicious. Goes very well with dahi-bhaat or even a chilled beer.

Worship at a small shrine

Here and on I posted pics from the Chicago Balaji Temple and the Durga Devi Shrine within the Atlanta Temple. These are both very elaborate temple structures. However, not all worship occurs in such embellished temple complexes. On a regular basis worship takes place at the simple home altar. Routinely folks worship at small road side shrines in rural India. They offer an opportunity to slow down from our hectic pace, take off our shoes and give thanks.

Near my ancestral home along coastal Karnataka, we prayed at an outdoor shrine to Naga, the snake deity. In a small clearing in someones backyard, was a simple cement pad on which were consecrated two stone tablets. A few, roughly hewn red sandstone blocks act as an altar, which even collects moss during the monsoons.

As part of the puja (or service), the priest poured water over the tablets, placed flower garlands and sprinkled vermillion. A bundle of hand-made cotton wicks, soaked in oil, were lit and waved in front of the deity in a clockwise direction. This represented aarti, an offering of fire and light. Following the aarti, family members walked clockwise around the shrine (see pic) in pradakshina. A dried palm frond on the ground in front of the altar, formed a biodegradable mat to stand on.

Very simple!

Coconut Oil – The Friendly Fat

Read this in “Experience Life” Magazine – Jan Feb 2004 issue. The magazine is dedicated to exercise and nutrition related topics. Here is their spiel on Coconut Oil, verbatim.

Coconut oil is all the rage right now. Once vilified as a heart-clogging monster, its suddenly being touted by many nutritional experts as a “miracle food” a saturated fat that is high in healthy medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) like lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid. Easy to digest, MCFAs burn more like carbohydrates than fats, which makes them great for fueling exercise. Coconut oil also has antiviral and antimicrobial properties, which can help support your immune system. Its withstands high heat better than most vegetable oils, which makes it great for cooking. And it has an exceptional shelf life (up to two years). While many unrefined brands offer high quality and a delicious coconut smell that makes them nice on toast or slathering your skin, for general sauteing you may prefer a gently refined product, …

Interesting write up. Konkani's may not have known the terminology, but they used coconut oil in their diet and appreciated its value. In my ancestral hometown of Kumta (Karnataka) the price of a plot of land goes up depending upon the number of coconut trees on the land!

Eat well,

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