We caught up with Shanthala T Medappa, of Old Mercara, and listened with bowls of homemade ice cream to her heartwarming story. Her ice creams, honey, squashes and pepper sold like ‘hot cakes’ at the recent Farmer’s Market in Chennai and that’s not all this healthy, yoga instructor does with her 24 hours.
She tells of her journey from Coorg, their beliefs in the goodness of homemade food and her insights on health and fitness today.
We’ll let her tell you how it went.
The quaint & picturesque town of Mercara has come a full circle from Madikeri derived from the Raja’s name Muthuraja ‘Keri’ ( a small cluster of villages) to the anglicised Mercara, favoured by the British. Now it has reverted to Madikeri again in keeping with the new trend such as Bangalore becoming Bengaluru.
The British who came to these picturesque hills of Coorg saw a great similarity to Scotland, started coffee plantations and settled here. The way of the British life left a strong impression on the Coorgs in the form of plantation homes and adaptation of some of their culinary preferences such as aesthetically laid out tea tables, the cakes, muffins, jams, jellies and dainty table linen.
It is this nostalgia for the old way of life, fast disappearing, that made me name my products “Old Mercara”.
There is still many a home where elegant ladies serve tea in dainty China with lacy napkins and morsels of exquisite tasting cakes, tarts etc. Their larder is full of seasonal fruits made into Preserves, Jams, Wines and Chutneys.
I hope to bring to you the wholesome goodness of their larder, bottled and pickled with care and pride in their orchards and their skills.
It is this that I offer – the fragrance of brewed coffee ,the syrupy goodness of honey, toasted bread with peanut butter ,an assortment of jams and jellies. I could go on and on – some of these will grace your table, bringing you the genuine goodness and warmth that food prepared with care and love should do.
250 gms – Rs 200, 500 gms- Rs 400
Grown under the shade of stately trees in Coorg ,hand-picked and dried – each bean trapping the warmth and goodness of the sun. This pack contains a combination of two dominant varieties of coffee -the delicate flavoursome Arabica and the robust Robusta to give the brew strength. Each cup brings to you the best of Coorg’s coffee estates, which help to protect the biodiversity of the Western Ghats
100 gms – Price Rs. 150
Ungarbled Pepper or Piper Nigrum sourced from climbing vines of South Coorg is undeniably the best. Black gold as it was called in the days of yore packs amazing benefits. It reduces chest congestion, cough and colds, its antioxidant qualities control skin diseases and pigmentation, it is also packed with many minerals, thus antibiotic.
250 ml – Rs 200
A jar of honey on the table was once considered a mark of great wealth. Honey is a sweet, thick fluid made by bees from flower nectar. Bees sip it and carry it to their hives-where the water evaporates and the liquid thickens. The flavour and colour of honey are influenced by the kinds of flowers from which the nectar comes. Lighter the honey, milder the flavour. It is an excellent energy food. It contains mineral salts and is the only form of sugar food that does not need to be refined.
Jams, Jellies and Squashes
Jams, Jellies – 250gms – Rs 230, Squashes 750 ml –Rs.390
Jams, Jellies, Preserves are not made from commercial Orchards but from random fruit trees that are planted around our bungalows. Hence they are not treated with artificial manure and pesticides associated with large scale agriculture. The Guavas, Litchis, Mangoes, Chikoos and Mulberries are harvested competing with birds, squirrels & bats. So these products have a unique taste of fruits ripening in the sun and on the branch. Picked with care, handled with delight and prepared with love. They are indeed wholesome unlike factory made products that declare “untouched by Hand”. Types of squashes – Passion Fruit, Ginger lime, Grape Fruit, Bitter Lime. Jams – Mulberry, Cape Gooseberry, Guava, and Orange Marmalade.
750ml – Rs 390
The derivative from Kokum (Garcinia Indica) is used to treat obesity and weight loss effectively. It lowers blood lipids such as cholesterol and triglyceride by triggering fatty acid oxidation in the liver which raises the body temperature to speed body metabolism. It makes insulin more effective to reduce fat storage and stabilize hunger fluctuation associated with hypoglycemia.
270 gm – Rs 350
The French invented compote believing that fruit cooked in sugar syrup balanced the effects of humidity on the body. The name is derived from the French word ‘compote’, meaning mixture. Compote was originally served as an afternoon snack with sour cream and biscuits. During the Renaissance, it was served chilled at the end of dinner.
250 gm – Rs.250
Good old Chunky peanut butter needs no introduction, this one made with Organic brown sugar.
1kg – Rs 1000
The ‘Kodavas’ or Coorgs were a people of farm and forest, the borders of which seamlessly blended with each other. In fact the farmer supplemented food from his farm with the bounties of the forest like venison, wild pig, wild fowl and other products of the forest and streams. It was thus that the ‘pandi curry’ or pork curry became an indispensable dish at all functions. Now, however domesticated pigs are substituted instead of the wild boar. Be it the ‘Kailpodhu’ festival held after transplanting paddy or ‘Huthari’ the harvest festival or a wedding lunch- usually a meal with ‘puttus’ made of rice and pandhi curry is served.
Rs 12/piece (minimum order is 12 pieces)
Papputtu is a steamed rice semolina cake made with milk and coconut that is usually eaten with Pandi Curry.
Home Made Ice Cream
500ml – Rs 350 1000ml – Rs 600
Made fresh to order and does not contain artificial colours, flavours and preservatives. Flavours available: Mango. Coorg Coffee. Chococlate Oreo Cookie. Fig and Honey. Fig and Honey Hangover (With rum), Apricot Brandy, Peanut Butter, Cinnamon, Rum and Raisin, Chocolate Oreo Cookie, Tender Coconut, Lemon, Coffee Liqueur.
Strawberry and Kiwi ice creams are Rs 400 – 500ml and Rs 700 – 1000ml
Humble Vanilla is Rs 300 – 500ml and Rs 500 – 1000ml
Photo Credits: Ashima Shenoy