“While food has always been reserved for memories of celebration, family, love, belonging, today it means more than just that for me.It is about what divides us, it is what puts us in two categories of “pure veg” and “impure-everything-else.” It is what makes us intolerant and worse, holds grounds for hostility.” 

Ravali reflects after sharing her harrowing experience navigating unsaid rules of house-hunting in the urban Bangalore, India. A phenomenon not unique to Bangalore, where what you eat (or in this case, don’t) determines the availability of a roof over your head. After many trials and errors, she finally found a place where her food waste, her plates and cutlery, and her shelf of the fridge weren’t scrutinized.

Ravali grew up in the southern city of Hyderabad, an association she holds dearly. “I grew up thinking everyone ate meat.  When I entered college I realised a lot of people ate differently from me! In Telangana, while most of the state is meat-eating, you see this dynamic somewhat flipped in colleges. Of course, in hindsight, it’s probably because certain kinds of people get through higher education institutions in India. I was made acutely aware of my meat-eating habits when we would go out..there was and continues to be a certain expression (is it disgust?) when you tell people you eat meat..”

The states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, world-renowned for their biryanis, are heavily meat-eating states. To understand the contemporary discourse on the morality of meat eating, one needs to be deeply aware of how caste, religion, colonialism and politics intersect with food. With food habits being important markers of one’s identity, reclaiming the right to eat certain foods is an act of assertion. “I grew up loving meat, so going through adulthood apolgizing for my food choices was uncomfortable to say the least. It was a part of me, a part that I wasn’t fully able to explain. I mean my Twitter handle at one point was an ode to my favorite dosakai mutton (a yellow-cucumber gravy)! I wanted to assert myself everywhere!”

At the peak of the pandemic, Ravali and her sister found themselves together in their  Bangalore apartment. Isolated by lockdown rules, fatigued by the constant tip-toeing around what to eat and what not to, they decided to celebrate Easter—their favourite kind of celebration. “We decided to make our home, home by cooking our mum’s natukodi chicken curry with coconut rice, a feast we’d have every Easter together as a family. Sometimes you just have to cook a meal to tell yourself everything is okay, and that things will get better. So we decided to cook this recipe the authentic way (this was at the peak of the pandemic so a lot of stores were shut!) We spent 4 hours cooking, which was a long, winding journey, but it was worth every minute.
By the end of it we felt like we had ‘arrived’.”

 Natukodi Chicken Curry ︎ Natukodi Chicken Curry ︎ 

︎ Natukodi Chicken ︎

If I made the rules, I would ensure coconut rice is ONLY eaten with this natukodi chicken curry. It’s the perfect combination!


For the dry Roast Masala
  • Coriander seeds, Cumin Seeds
  • Shredded coconut (fresh if possible)
  • Garlic pods
  • Grind this all into a ‘masala ball’ (adding water if it’s too dry)

  • For the Natukodi Chicken Curry
  • Country Chicken  - try and head to your local butcher to get a country chicken. It’s totally superior in taste!
  • Oil
  • Cumin seeds
  • Onions, finely chopped,
  • Tomatoes, finely chopped
  • Green chilies
  • Ginger Garlic Paste
  • Turmeric, red chili powder
  • Yogurt or pounded poppy seeds
  • Salt

  • Method

    • Heat your oil and add cumin seeds
    • Once they splutter, add onions and green chilies
    • Once the onions turn pink, add in your chicken and fry this well
    • Add your ginger garlic paste, turmeric, and chili powder
    • Add in your masala ball
    • At this stage, once it is all mixed, you can either add some yogurt or some poppy seed paste. This adds a bit of thickness to the gravy
    • Once all this is mixed, add lots of water (the consistency we’re going for is similar to that of a rasam/ broth-like)
    • Let the chicken cook and then garnish with coriander leaves

    Be assured you will be able to do nothing post this meal. Account for adequate naptime!

    ︎ Coconut Rice ︎

    This recipe take time, but it’s worth it!  Of course, feel free to substitute with store-bought ingredients. 


    • Ghee, don’t skimp on this. It is essential. Oil won’t do. I don’t make the rules!
    • Cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaf, cumin seeds (all to add fragrance to the rice so adjust quantities based on how fragrant you like your rice!)
    • Coconut cream. Here is where my mother might tell you to buy a coconut and cream it yourself. And she would go a step further and have coconuts brought in from Avadi, our village in Andhra Pradesh. One tends to have somebody always lug a bag of coconuts and jackfruits on their visits to Hyderabad. Always grab that opportunity. But of course, store-bought coconut cream also works. I avoid coconut milk because it’s too watered down.
    • Rice
    • Turmeric Yes! Coconut rice is yellow!
    • Saffron. Completely optional if you’re feeling fancy.


    • Sauté your spices in ghee
    • Add your coconut milk and let it all come together
    • Add your rice, salt and turmeric
    • For your water quantity, make sure your coconut mil and water combination from the 1:2 ratio (I cup rice for 2 cups of liquid)
    • Cook it as you would any rice!