website of Wing Commander Bellie Jayaprakash :: Dedicated to the great Badaga leader Rao Bahadur HB Ari Gowder

Badagas of the Blue Mountains…..their unique history, origin, culture, customs, rituals, language and lifestyle !!

Dedicated to the memory of the Great Badaga Leader Rao Bahadur H B Ari Gowder
Website of Wing commander Bellie Jayaprakash

Badagas usually grow vegetables in their small patch(es) of land called ‘HOLA’ (see photo) for their regular use apart from other commercial crops like potato, cabbage, carrot and cauliflower etc. These would also include many varities of beans, peas, greens, corn etc. Every variety of avere(bean) has a specific (sometimes unique) badaga name. No Badaga wedding meal is complete without ‘Avare & Gaasu udakka’ [beans & potato curry]. Incidentally, Badagas do not serve non-vegetarian (meat) dishes on the wedding day , main meal is called - ‘maduve hittu‘. Another great trait among these simple peasant people is called ‘nattu‘ - a sort of gift (again mainly the home grown vegetables & grains) given to relatives, friends and guests.

Tea >>Tea Leaves… the crop on which Badaga ‘economy’ depends so much..
The agricultural produce, food, dishes, eating habits and some interesting recipes of Badagas.
Apart from, I am thankful to N.Bellie, R.Ramachandran (Kekkatty) and others for their imputs. A lot of info is from Prof.Paul Hockings’s books.
I have tried to discuss and describe, not only of authentic recipes on Badaga dishes but also on their agricultural produce, known in Badaga language as BAE - like for example Badagas used to grow wheat, barley, millet - GHODUME, GANJE, ERAGI, BATHA -etc but have almost completely stopped now.
The food, eating habits, preparations of some dishes as well as the ingredients used are covered. along with the methods used in cooking (like in a mud pot known as MADAKE in traditional fire place - OLE)

It must be mentioned that though many masala powders are available in the market, the Badagas use a specially prepared curry powder known as ‘ BADAGARU MAASU HUDI’ in their preparations.
I remember my childhood days when the dried GANJE / GHODUME (barley/wheat) used to be spread in the fore court of the houses called KERI (street) , between two groups of Hatti HEMMAKKA (ladies) squatted opposite to each other with GANJE DHADIS (sticks of about four feet long and an inch thick) systematically & alternatively beating to remove the chaff. The rhythmic ‘tak tak’ noise would be accompanied by some folk lore Badaga songs. This is known as GANJE SACHODHU.
How can anyone forget the GANJE that would be HURUTHU - fied (fried) in a HURI MADDAKKE (mud pot with a hole on its side) through which a HURI KOL (a short stick with cloth tied at one end as a ball) would be inserted and the contents stirred constantly for uniform frying?
Huri Maddakke >

The fried ganje called GANJIKKE would be taken with BELLA (jaggery) and THENKE (coconut). The taste of this would increase if hurutha keerai is added. Used to be a very common snack during the “kodai” season when no one can venture out on account of severe wind and rain.
This ganjikke would be powdered in a ‘ BEESA GALLU ‘ or ‘BEESARAN KALLU’ ( grinding stone ‘flour mill’) that was a permanent feature in the EDHA or NADU MANE and stored for furture use. People who go on long journeys (in olden days travel was by foot only) took this powder along with them, a very handy and healthy meal. This powder would be mixed with hot water to make a gruel. Salt and jaggery could be added to taste.

Edha Mane (notice the Beesa Gallu (Grinding Stone-mill) at the right bottom corner. The corner is called GOTTU MOOLE) - Illustration by Bellie Jayaprakash

(Buttermilk) MAJJIGE [ also known as - Pay'ray'] KADANJODHU or HAALU SORAKKODU( milk churning ) used to be a routine job and great fun for the children in trying their hands. The BENNE (butter) and THUPPA (ghee or clarified butter) are very healthy. When taken with ERAGI HITTU (wheat ball in the size of cricket/hockey ball), it is very tasty.
EEGAVE THIMBUDHUGA AASE BANDHARAVA ? (don’t you feel like eating now )?
POTHITTU (wheat dosai) has to be an all time favourite of Badagas. During SAKKALATHI HABBA (the last festival before HETHAI HABBA ) POTHITTU with THENKE NEERU (coconut water) is the main dish.
What about dishes like OTTU KUDI UDAKKA (bamboo shoot curry) which can put any BAADU UDAKKA (non veg curry) to shame?And KOONU (mushroom) preparations?
There are many side dishes like SOPPU, BARRATHA AVARE , GAASU SANDEGE Then the question of how to ERAGI HITTU HOKKUDU (make wheat ball?) or make HABBA (festival) specials like BADE (vadai) KAL KAL (sweets made out of maida) etc etc.
Talking about chutney - GAASU SANDEGE , when GAASU (potato) is cooked in KENDA (ember) - SUTTA GAASU - and mixed with UPPU & OLLIYA MAASU (salt & pepper) it really tastes great ……umm…really mouth watering.
Incidentally, a DODDARU SHULOKA (Badaga Proverb) goes like this ;
" a man(husband), house is bad ; without potato, curry is bad"
I was pleasantly surprised to know that Taj Garden Retreat hotel in Coonoor (in the Nilgiris) serves some exclusive Badaga specials like THUPPADITTU & OTTU KUDI curry.
“Since the British lived here for long, there was a mix of the English food with the local ingredients - mostly, the native Badaga food. Thuppathittu, is an example. That makes it different from the typical English food…..For vegetarians, … Ottakudi Gassu poriyal ( a typical Badaga food of potatoes, spices and bamboo shoots), …. Avarai Uthaka (traditional Badaga speciality), Khuni khichri (spice preparation) and Gassu Dhotti (boiled potato preparation)”
Rasam is called MAASU NEERU ( milagu thanni in Tamil that has found its way into dictionaries).BATHA HOKKUDHU was done by elephants in ancient period, and till a few decades ago, by 50 to 60 bulls and cows brought from the plains (mainly Avinashi near Coimbatore) to the villages and mostly done during night time. One of the methods/processes in storing/pruning our farm produce ERAGI (millet) is known as ” ERAGI METTODHU ” (Stamping).
This is done on the green ERAGI stems freshly harvested from the fields. A bunch of this is put indoors on the floor and squeezed by bare feet . This is done mainly in the night in the EDHA MANE (middle room) and stored in the DHARSAE PETTI / BALLA (storage basket) which is located on top of the HAGALAE (permanentally fixed long wooden plank from wall to wall that also served as a huge cot) in the EDA MANE . See the illustration above.
BALLA or BALLA PETTI is a big cylindrical basket for storage and fixed to the wall/floor by cow dung. There would be hole at the bottom to take out the grain. The hole is sealed with cow dung and removed whenever required. Smaller storage basket is called KUKKE. Depending on the usage they are known as BENNE KUKKE (butter basket), HUYIGAL KUKKE (multi utility basket), DODDA KUKKE (big basket) with a handle to carry mud to clean the temples before puja in the olden days and of course, the GANJIKE KUKKE with smaller baskets attached to a central bigger one used in SAVU (funeral) rites. MAKKIRI was a larger basket used to carry food items to fields (HOLA) and on long journeys.
BESAKATTI is a large flat basket, used for drying grains, hung above the fire place/ hearth ( OLE ) in the inner room (OGE MANE) of a Badaga Home during earlier days.The basket is suspended from the beam with wire rods /ropes (KANNI).
There are a lot of DODDARU SHULOKAs on BALLA (storage container for grains). A couple of them are listed here :
Ballada hattale siri, Kukkeya hattale uri” ,
Baavava balla ethone getta, badava baathu satha

Some Authentic Badaga Recipes

Avaray with Gaasu Udhakka (Beans with Potato Curry)

One of the favourite dishes of Badagas. No Badaga wedding would be complete without this curry 

Devarajan Mathan - []
Avarai + Gasu Udakka If it is " baralu avarai " [ Dry Beans + 3 Cups"] soak it overnight. Add Gasu [Potato]. say 2 or 3 pieces. Add Masu hudi - 3 spoons , Uppu [ salt] - 2 spoons.Cook in cooker for 30-40 mins [ based on type of Avarai]. Fri onion & kadugu and pour cooked content into fry and boil for few minutes. If it is Green beans [ Hacchai Avarai], Cook for 15 minutes in pressure cooker.Enjoy with Rice / Erigi Ittu.

Badaguru Koi Udaka [Badaga Chicken Curry]
by Anith Gokul
(Serves- > 4-5)
Chicken - 1kg
small onions - 500 gms
Koi uduka maasu hudi (masala powder) - 1/2 cup (or depending on how spicy you want it)
cumin seeds (jeera) - 2-3 tsps
saunf - 2-3 tsps
kas-kas - 2 tsps
cloves - 3-4
cinnamon - 1/2 inch
cardamom - 2-3
ginger - 1 inch piece
garlic - 8-9 medium size flakes
salt to taste
turmeric - a pinch
mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
small or big onions for seasoning
oil - 3-5 tbsp
Clean and wash the chicken pieces well. Marinate the chicken in maasu hudi - curry powder [see below to learn how to make Koi Udakka maasu hudi], salt and turmeric.
Warm the spices (cumin, saunf, kas-kas, cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom). Grind them in a mixer along with ginger and garlic and keep aside.
Peel the small onions, wash and cut the larger ones into 2-3 pieces and fry in a little oil on low fire. Keep stirring the onions so that they are uniformly and thoroughly fried. Remove from fire, cool and then make it into a paste in a mixer.
Mix the onion paste with the marinated chicken.
Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds, curry leaves and the onions. Fry till onions turn golden in colour. Add the masala-ginger-garlic paste and saute. Then add the marinated chicken and water (according to how thick you want the curry to be). Cook for 20 - 25 minutes or till chicken is done.
It is better to use a pan to cook the curry than a cooker as the flavour of masala and spices usually does get absorbed into the chicken when a cooker is used.

I am grateful to Ms. Anitha Gokul for accepting my request to write / give the recipe for the traditional BADAGA CHICKEN CURRY as well as the preparation of CURRY POWDR - the ’secret weapon’ of good Badaga Cooking)

KOI UDAKA MAASU HUDI (Masala powder for chicken gravy)
by Anitha Gokul

chillies - 1kg
corriander seeds -2 kg
cumin seeds (jeera) - 250gms
pepper - 50 -100 gms

There is no need to add other spices like saunf, cloves, etc. They can be added while preparing the curry. Roast the chillies, corriander, cumin and pepper seperately in a hard bottom pan on low fire. The colour of the spices should turn dark as our gravies are usually dark (nearly black) in colour. Be careful not to over-roast. Mix the ingredients together and get them ground in a grinding or pounding machine. Pounding is a better option inorder to maintain the flavour of the spices. Cool the masala powder as soon as after it is ground. Seive and store properly. This masala can be used for more than a year if stored well.

(for other gravies like aavarai udaka, maasu neeru, etc)
by Anitha Gokul

chillies - 1kg
corriander seeds - 1kg
cumin seeds (jeera) - 100g
saunf - 100g
pepper - 100g
roasted bengal gram dhal (potto kadalai) - 1cup
bengal gram dhal (kadalai parupu) - 1 cup
red gram (thovarum parupu) - 1 cup
raw rice - 1 cup
turmeric - 50g
fenugreek (methi) - 50g
kas-kas - 50g
mustard seeds - 50g
clove - 20-25g
cinnamon -25g
cardamom - 50g
asafoetida - 5g
curry leaves - 2-3 bunches
nutmeg, mace etc - 1-2 (optional, but when used enhances the taste)

Roast all the ingredients (uniformly) separately in a hard bottom pan on low fire. Wash and dry curry leaves in shade and lightly roast them. Mix all the ingredients together and grind or pound in a machine. Cool the masala as soon as it is possible after grinding, on newspapers spread on the floor. If not cooled the heat in the masala may burn it, thus affecting the flavour and colour of the maasu hudi. Sieve and store properly.



(by Brent Thompson says the recipe originally comes from Poultry Advisor (a magazine) published in Bangalore, in 1970. The recipe was attributed to Mrs. Seetha Mahalingam from Ooty. Brent’s notes and the original measures for the recipe appear in brackets. Also, see

* ½ Cup. ghee or oil (orig 1 Cup.)
* ¾ tsp black mustard seeds (orig ½ tsp.)
* 3 onions, medium, chopped or thinly sliced
* ½ tsp turmeric powder
* 3 tomatoes, sliced or chopped
* 1 chicken, skin removed (as always, in India), cut into small pieces
* 1 can coconut milk (or milk from one coconut — about 2-3 Cups.)
* salt to taste
I - Grind together:* 12 garlic cloves (fewer, if really large)
* 2″ ginger root
* 4-5 Tbs green coriander (originally 1-2 Tbs.)
* 10 cardamoms (originally 6)
* 6 cloves
* 2″ cinnamon stick

II - Grind together:
* 2 Tbs. coriander seeds, roasted
* 10 red chilis, dried

1. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed vessel; add the mustard seeds. When they crackle, add the sliced onions and fry until the onions turn a golden brown.
2. Add garlic-ginger paste (mix I) and fry about 2-3 minutes.
3. Now add the chili-coriander powder (mix II) and continue frying another 5 minutes, stirring often enough to prevent sticking or burning.
4. Add the turmeric. Add tomatoes and chicken and mix well. Add the coconut milk. Add salt to taste.
5. Cook uncovered until the chicken is tender, adding water if it gets too dry - be careful not to add too much water, as it dilutes the flavor. The color of the broth will gradually deepen and turn brown as it cooks.
6. Optionally, at the end, add a few cashews and cook for another 3 minutes




by Anitha Gokul

Makes 10-15 numbers

Maida-½ kg
Sugar-¼ kg
Water-3-4 cups(very hot)
Salt to taste
Powdered cardamoms or khas-khas
Oil for frying.


Sieve the flour, add sugar, salt, and cardamoms and mix well. Then add 2 cups hot water to the flour mixing well with a long spoon. when the flour is thoroughly wet start kneading with your hands adding more water to get the desired consistency(it should be thick and smooth).

The batter should extend when pulled. Now take about a ladle of the batter in your left palm and pat it with your right fingers and deep fry in oil. Use water to pat as the batter could be sticky.
Squashed bananas can also be added. If it is difficult to pat pour a ladle of the batter directly into the oil.


E.B. Hariharan’s tip : To shape the batter and bring it to a near circular shape, here is the traditional method.


Take a steel vessel ‘KINNI’ with a circular base, place it upside down.Take a piece of clean white muslin or poplin cloth, wet it in clean water and place it on top. Place the requisite batter on top of the cloth and using both hands, slowly elongate on all sides, until the batter forms a near circle. This process also gives uniformity to the surface. Place the left hand under the muslin cloth, and in one slow movement transfer the circular batter to the right hand and carefully slide/place it into hot oil.



by R Ramachandran (Kekkatty)

[A healthy preparation as it is steam cooked and can be stored for weeks]

Ganjae ravae.
Pottu Kadale
Salt to taste
Sugar or Jaggery (bella)
Maddu Bittu
Morande Sticks

Method :

Add water to ganjae ravae mixed with spicy ingredients like MADDHU BITTU and POTTU KADALAE. Add salt and sugar / bella (jaggery). This mix is made into small balls. ‘MORANDHAE SOPPU’ stem is cut into small sticks and placed on top of the vessel filled with water (modern pressure cookers with IDLY making attachments may be an ideal alternative). A white thin cloth is spread on these sticks and the balls are stacked in such a way the steam reaches every ball. The morandae sticks also have medicinal values. The vessel is closed/covered and the water is boiled for about half an hour.

Serve with or without milk.

Prof. Paul Hockings notes : Kadimittu (refers to) hard sweet wheat balls, cooked by steaming wheat flour with salt and crude sugar. Taken on long journeys in former times because they would last for many days.



by Anitha Gokul


Serves - 4

Garlic(whole with big cloves) - 4 to 5
Pepper corns-1tsp(optional)
Chilli powder-2 tsps(the chilli powder should be prepared as Badagas do.The powder prepared for our chicken udaka is preferred i.e.,darker in colour)
Salt to taste
Ghee - 2tbsp


Use a skewer(thuppathahittu soongi). Poke the center of the garlic pods(whole) and roast them on the flame directly on a gas stove till they all turn black and an aroma comes. You need not peel the skin of the garlic before roasting because they peel by themselves after roasting. Remove the pods from the skewer and peel the rest of the skin. Do the same thing for the tomato till the skin starts peeling. Remember to keep a low flame while roasting otherwise the inside will not get cooked.

Now put the garlic, tomato, chilli powder, salt and pepper in a mixer jar and run mixer till you get a smooth paste. Add some water.In a pan put the ghee, then mustard. After it splutters add the paste with little water and bring to boil till the required thickness.

Tastes best with (eragi hittu mudde) ragi balls and uppukorai.


by Sangeetha Bheeman

GARLIC———1 FULL (medium size)
ONION———-1 (medium size)
TOMATO——–1 (big)
SALT———— to taste
COCONUT——½ cup (grated)
OIL————– to saute


Grind garlic,onion,tomato,coconut gratings & chilly powder all together (with water) to a fine paste. Heat oil in a pan,saute with mustard & curry leaves. Add salt & boil until everything’s cooked well & smells good(simmer the flame).Serve with hot cooked rice & ghee..!



by Anitha Gokul

Small onions - 250 gms
Garlic - 2 (optional)
Chilli powder-2 tsps(koi udaka maasu hudi)
Mustard,curry leaves,oil for seasoning.


Peel the onions. In a pan put 1-2 tsps of oil. Add the jeera. After it stops popping add the onions(cut only the very big ones). Add the tomato without cutting ,otherwise the water in it will not let the onions fry. Simmer the flame and let it fry stirring now and then. When completely cooked remove from flame and let it cool. Put in a mixer jar and run the mixer. Add chilli powder, salt and turmeric and little water. Add oil in a pan, mustard, curry leaves and then the paste with water. Bring to boil till the sandagai thickens.

Note : The amount of chilli powder added depends on how spicy you want it.


by R Ramachandran

This food item has a significance in Badaga community. A special occasion when only this is prepared as a special item is the BAETA BITHA or the HATCHIKAY HORAY which falls on the previous day of SAKKALATHI Habba.


BATTHA ( or samai) is fried to the extent it bursts open- splutter (BATTHA HURUPUDU). This is put in the ORALU and KUMMIfied (KUMMOODU) with ONAKKE [a solid wooden pole with iron rings at the ends] to separate the husk. Then this is gathered in a MORA (a bamboo basket - winnow), see photo, and cleaned so that the seperated husk is blown away-winnowing (KAERODHU).

onakke.jpg Onakke mora1.jpg Mora

The cleaned BATHA is soaked in water for a few hours for softening. Mixed with a dash of salt, jagerry or sugar and the famous [BADDHU BITTHU] HATCHIKAY is ready to be served with or without milk.

Note: This is first ‘offered’ to SOMI (God) and DEEVIGAY (Lamp) by the family head who then tastes it first in the HORAY GANGUVA ( a large traditional Badaga brass plate shown below)




by Anitha Gokul

To make Hacchikai, first we have to make ‘Baathi akki’ from the batha. Nowadays we rarely get batha, but some houses still store batha for use for new mothers (post-natal) to prepare ganji. Some vendors from Mysore, etc also sell new batha in hatties .

Take the cleaned Batta (4-5kgs) in a vessel with enough water (water should just cover the grains). Bring to boil for not more than 5 minutes; otherwise the batha will become soggy. Strain immediately and dry in the sun. When dry, pound in an ‘oralu’ or give it to grinding or pounding machines to split the grains. Baathi akki is ready. Can be stored to prepare Hacchikai anytime.

Hacchikai .
Serves 3-4.
Baathi akki - 2 cups.
Cool boiled water – 2-3 cups.
Grated coconut – 1-2 cups.
Sugar and salt (a pinch) to taste.

Soak the Baathi akki in cool boiled water for 1 – 2 hours. (Hot water will make it soggy). Strain excess water. Add sugar, salt and coconut and mix. Hacchikai ready!

Serves 3-4
Baathi akki – 2 cups
Water – 6-7 cups
Jaggery-1cup (or as sweet you want it)
Salt – a pinch.
Ghee as required.

Take Baathi akki in a cooker along with water, add salt. Cook as you cook rice, till very soft. In another pan boil the jaggery along with little water and strain. Add the jaggery to the cooked baathi akki and cook over a low flame till it thickens. Add ghee and serve hot.
You can also add a little cardamom powder, and fried cashews and resins for garnishing.


Pothitu Payasa

by Anitha Gokul

Serves 4-5

Pothitu :

Wheat flour- 4 cups
Water – 6 cups or more
Salt to taste
Make a batter without lumps by adding water to the flour. Its constituency should be more watery than that of dosa batter. Keep aside for atleast one hour. In a non stick tava pour a ladle of the batter and spread as you make a dosa. The pothitu should be very thin. Make similar dosas with the rest of the batter.


Half a coconut
Milk –2 cups.
Sugar – 5-6 teaspoons (as sweet as you want)
Khas-khas –2 teaspoons
Cardamom (optional)
Salt – a pinch
Using a mixer extract the milk from the coconut by adding a little water. Add the coconut milk to the cow’s milk. Add sugar and salt. Roast the khas-khas seeds till they pop. Powder it and add to the milk. Strain the payasa before serving. It can be served hot or cold. To serve it hot heat the payasa.

To serve pour the payasa over the pothitu.

[coutesy > POTHITU PAYASA]

Fish Fry

by Kasthuri Bhojan

Ingredients1 kg fish
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Oil for frying
Prepare a paste of the following
2 onion
1 small ginger
3 small garlic
4 green chillies
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin seeds(Jeera)
1 cup coriander leaves
1/2 cup gram flour (besan)
Salt to taste
Clean and wash fish.
Cut into medium pieces.
Heat the oil for frying. Put the fish pieces in the paste.
Keep for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the pieces and roll in bread crumbs.
Deep fry till it turns golden brown.


Paruppu (Bae) Udakka Lentil [Pulse] Curry
by Purni
Dhal 1 cup
Onion (chopped) ½ cup(small) , 1big to saute.
Tomato 1(big)
Cinnamom (Pattai)
Somfu ½ teaspoon
Oil as needed
Dry chillies(red) 5
Curry leaves little
Salt to taste

In a pressure cooker, cook dhal, onions(small), tomato, pattai, somfu. In a frying pan or kadai add 2-3 spoons of oil, fry red chillies,then the onions(big) add curry leaves.When golden brown,add the cooked dhal with it,add salt ,corriander leaves and bring to a boil.

TIP: vegetables can also be cooked along with dhal. Carrot will taste better

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