This picture appeared in a magazine and set me off on a trip into the past. To be honest the dish 'Khotto/Khotte' was never my favourite . But it was a big hit with friends of my parents and whenever it was made at home, my dad had to make several trips to deliver it to them. Simply put, the Khotto is idli made in a jack fruit leaf container. It was made for specific festivals. A great deal of preparation went into the making of the Khotto. There were only few houses in our city that had these trees. Special requests had to be made in advance . The leaves had to be plucked carefully. After which they would be washed in water and wiped dry with a soft cloth. Then it would be knit together - 4 leaves - with clean sticks -carefully made from the coconut tree - it was really an art, for it had to be perfect so that the batter would not seep out. Once the containers were ready, the batter was poured into them and steamed. The leaves would then be pulled apart to reveal a perfect cone idli! The jackfruit leaf would impart a characteristic flavour to the khoto and this made it different from the ordinary idli. It could be eaten with just about anything under the sun. A channa/prawn gashi, or with coconut oil poured on it and accompanied with chutney.
The konkanis, it seems, are fond of using leaves in their cooking. Another special treat ( and this was a great favourite of mine) is the Patholi. And the leaf used for this delicious preparation is the turmeric leaf. The leaf would be smeared in the centre with a little amount of rice flour paste, over which a mixture of jaggery and coconut would be placed. The leaf would be folded and steamed. The leaf as in the case of Khotto is discarded, but the aroma of the turmeric leaf added to the taste and it was just divine.
Who ever thought I would miss the food of South Kanara. I must stop now..... sigh..