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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Special! Bokryachya Botyechi Kadi (Traditional Mutton Tripe Curry)

Let me begin my post with a statutory warning! Vegetarians beware! And those of you who think eating anything apart from the flesh from the visible parts of a bird or animal is unthinkable or next to offensive, stop right here!

For those of you who think this is an exotic unheard of dish or the tasted-a-million-times and love it dish, let me tell you that I belong to both the categories. Bokryachi Boti (let us call it simply 'boti) was an unheard of exotic dish (only for me although my family had eaten it) till I got married and after that I've had it a lot of times at my in-laws. The only reason why my mum-in-law still continues to slave over this Mangalorean delicacy is because R simply loves it. So each time we visit Mangalore, among the other specialities, the Boti curry finds its way on the 'to-make while they're here' list. It must be noted that in Hindi, Boti simply means tiny pieces (usually of meat), however, in Mangalore, it is actually a collective term for Tripe.


Not too many people make it at home any more as simply put 'Tripe' is nothing but the intestines of the Sheep and includes the stomach and cleaning it is a big task that involves a huge chunk of time and loads of effort. So what may sound offensive to some is actually a delicacy amongst Mangalorean Catholics with a lot of die hard fans of the Boti. Traditionally the cleaning of the Tripe was done at the washing stone which usually has access to plenty of water. Plenty of 'cleaning' ingredients ranging from Chuna/Suno (Edible Lime powder), bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves and salt were used along with boiling hot water to wash the intestines sparkling clean and devoid of odour. Today, due to space constraints and lack of gardens/yards or washing stones, people find it difficult to clean it at home and in India, the cleaning done by the butcher is not up to the mark unless you are able to find it at  supermarkets with some standards. I am assuming it is available in a 'pristinely' clean condition abroad.


Last week R & I were making a list of our favourite Mangalorean foods which are dying a slow death, we thought we must include the Boti and try it at home if we chance upon it at the Butchers. Just like in Mangalore where you need to book the Boti in advance, we managed to do the same here at the Andheri market which is to us what the Vodli market at State Bank (a place named after the head office of the Bank) is to Mangaloreans living in Mangalore. Since I had never tried my hand at cleaning the Boti, my man did the honours (did I tell you he's a great cook himself?) and spent a good 1-1/2 hours cleaning the spare parts to a bright Ujjala white! His madame then spent the next 45-50 minutes grinding the masala, boiling the lentils and putting this amazing dish together! I must tell you that we both enjoyed our experience doing the work we had split between us and proclaimed to each other that - boti ki kasam, we would do this once again! Next time we'd bring more Botis and clean and freeze it for later (who wants to do the hard work over & over again?) 

If you have never tasted it, let me describe it for you - it's a little chewy but tastes awesome along with the chana dal and a spicy coconut-y creamy gravy. Perfect for a special Sunday afternoon!



Mutton Tripe Curry (Botyechi Kadi)
Serves: 4-6

You Need:
  • 1 Tripe
  • 125gm chana dal
  • salt to tase
  • ghee 2-3 tbsp
  • 1 cup thin coconut milk
  • 2 cups thick coconut milk
For the masala
  • 3/4th cup grated coconut
  • 8 long red chillies (Kumti/Bedgi) *see note
  • 7-8 peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds/dhania
  • 1 tsp cumin/jeera
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric/haldi
  • 1/2 inch ginger
  • 1 small ball of tamarind
For the shindaap (cuttings)
  • 1 medium size onion
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1 small pod of garlic (around 8-10flakes)
For the tempering/seasoning
  • 1/2 onion sliced fine
  • ghee or oil
Method:
1. Clean the tripe with lots of freshly boiled water and remove (scrape) the outer skin with the help of a knife. Clean the insides thoroughly with plenty of salt, bay leaves, cinnamon & cloves. Wash multiple times in fresh cool water till all the odour vanishes. Pressure cook with bay leaves, cloves and cinnamon and the ingredients mentioned in 'For the shindaap' . Remove and allow to cool and cut into small pieces. Keep aside (discard the bay leaves, cloves & cinnamon)
2. Cook the chana dal in plenty of water till well cooked but not mushy (soft enough to bite)
3. Heat some ghee in a heavy bottomed pan and fry all the ingredients mentioned under 'For the masala' one by one (separately). When they have sufficiently cooled, grind to a fine paste using a little water. 
4. Add this masala back to the pan and the masala water from the mixer jar to form a thick gravy. Add the tripe pieces, mix well. Add the thin coconut milk and the precooked chana dal and boil for 2 minutes (or lesser, depending on how much the dal has cooked -don't allow it to turn mushy). Finally add the thick coconut milk and bring the gravy to a rolling boil, leaving the pan uncovered. Season it with 1/2 onion sliced fine and turn off the flame
5. Serve hot with steaming white or brown rice






Friday, July 29, 2011

Beef Chilli Fry



Although we don't eat a lot of red meat too often for health reasons (limiting our red meat intake to about once in every two months or so), hubbykins and I were discussing our various Mangalorean favourites and the discussion became a lengthy one about ingredients as well. We both felt that I had a lot of recipes on the blog which required coconut (grated or milk) and that it wasn't fair to those people who were unable to obtain the same (it's like tempting them to have something they couldn't find). I also got a mail from a reader, Priyanka who asked for some vegetarian & Beef recipes which of course make no use of coconut in any form. Since then I have been jotting down recipes which fall in that category and have been trying some varieties. 

Since R loves Beef and I don't like it as much as I like Mutton, we always end up making Beef Sukka on those rare occasions when we get it. My mum also used to make a lot of Beef Sukka which my dad was a huge fan of. And since we used to always get poor quality Mutton in Mangalore (with little meat and lots of bones) it was always Beef that was eaten when you wanted a change from the regular Sunday Chicken curry and a whole week of sea food or vegetables.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bangude Ghassi (Bunt Style Spicy Mackerel Curry)



Last week I went hunting for some fish and thanks to the torrential rains, there wasn't much on display to be happy about. Just the usual fare - Mackerels, Pomfrets, King Fish (Surmai), Indian Salmon (Rawas), Prawns & Crabs. Since I don't eat the latter two (yeah, it's such a pity, but I am allergic to these crustaceous babies although thankfully not allergic to Clams & Squid ), I ended up buying whatever was on offer. Mackerels for me, Prawns for the husband and Pomfrets for the toddler (although he's the best among the three of us - eats fish with as much passion as a fisherman would fish!)

Since it is human nature to complain, it is but natural to complain about the scorching heat during the Summer and the crazy rains during the Monsoons - and also wail that there is no fish as fishing boats stay put (most times). Most of us fish lovers end up eating the same type of fish week after week or just seek more carnivorous options such as white & red meat besides eggs. Since we don't bring a lot of red meat regularly and Chicken becomes a bore if eaten more than twice a week, I decided to play around with some recipes for the fish sitting in my freezer. I didn't have to hunt too much, for I had already tried Charishma's recipes before, so I blindly followed her instructions to make this gorgeous Mackerel curry - a famous Bunt version called the Bangude Ghassi - oh so spicy and perfect for a rainy day when everything outside looks bleak and depressing. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Simple Chicken Stew

Woo hoo!! It's Sunday and I am wondering yet again how the week has flown by. My son started schooling and thankfully its been a great experience for him as well as for us as parents. I think with the new teaching techniques kids find it a lot more fun to attend school and they actually look forward to it. As a parent I was really worried and prepared for a few days of tantrums from my little one as I got him dressed for school, but to my amazement none of that happened. Thanks to the playschool concept that is in vogue these days, he was very prepared and actually looking forward to attending a 'big school'. This ofcourse took a whole load off my mind as I didn't have to battle with a 3 year old every morning and reason out why he needed to attend school. This is something my mum went through with me every single day when I was a kid. So, these are definitely moments I truly treasure. Simple pleasures of life are those that just put a smile on your face and a song in your heart.

Well, a smile and a song reminds me of the movie I watched last Sunday - Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (roughly meaning that you live only once). Although I am not very good at writing movie reviews, I cannot help but write about that beautifully made movie with such a striking theme. It's all about the simplicity of life and taking each day as it comes and most importantly seizing the day and making the most of it doing the things you love and spending it with people you love. The movie is set in Spain where 3 Indian childhood buddies spend a short vacation after years and decide to go on a road trip to explore the country. I won't give away the story for those who haven't watched it yet, but for those who have already, I am sure you'll agree that the movie in itself does not rush through the sequences. There are plenty of scenes to promote tourism for Spain but most importantly a lot of footage is dedicated to just showing flowers or horses running - just so beautiful, there's a kind of laziness there which makes you want to do all of those things that the protagonists try to do while on their break from the mad rush of their lives. The entire movie is peppered with great humour and easy breezy camaraderie between the star cast. Great songs & great picturisation keep you entertained throughout and the best part is that it does not have a typical Bollywood style melodramatic ending. Very practical and logical ending - what else do we need? Larger than life is passe! It's time to watch something closer to reality.

So if you are wondering what to make this Sunday for lunch, why don't you give this beautiful Chicken curry a try? Chicken soaked in a spicy curry sweetened by Coconut milk that also gives it the sweetness and flavour it deserves. So, go make it, enjoy your meal and Carpe Diem my friends!


Simple Chicken Stew

You Need:
  • 1kg chicken
  • 8 dry red chillies * see notes
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds (khus khus)
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 1 pod or about 10 flakes garlic (Indian) with skin
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 large onions thinly sliced (add an extra onion for a rich gravy)
  • 2 cups thick coconut milk *see notes
  • 1-1/2 tbsp vinegar
  • 5-6 cloves
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • few coriander leaves
  • salt to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp ghee or oil
Method
1. Cut the chicken into medium size pieces, wash & drain well.
2. Grind the red chillies, poppy seeds, salt, turmeric, ginger, garlic in a little water to a fine paste.
3. Heat some ghee or oil in a pan and fry the onions for about 3-4 till they turn golden brown (they should be fried well and not just limp/translucent - but take care to see that they don't burn).
4. Add the masala and fry it well. Add the chicken and fry on a slow flame. Toss in the cinnamon & cloves. Don't add any extra water. Keep stirring in between and fry till all the pieces are well coated and appear reddish.
5. Add the coconut milk and bring it to a boil. Adjust the thickness of the gravy by adding some masala water (from the mixer grinder). Add the vinegar and adjust the salt and cook till the chicken is done.
6. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice, sannas, panpole

Notes:
  • Although I like moderate spice in my curries, I went ahead & used 8 Kumti (Bedgi/Kundapur) chillies as the sweetness in the coconut milk balanced out the spiciness. You can use Kashmiri chillies instead of Bedgi.
  • To make this stew in a jiffy I use Maggi instant coconut milk powder. To make 2 cups of milk, take about 1-1/2 cups of warm water and add about 5-6 tbsps of powder to get thick coconut milk. Alternatively you can extract milk from about 1-1/2 coconuts (depending on how large they are).

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Thaikulo Ani Bikna (Monsoon Herbs With Jackfruit Seeds)

A lot has been said and written about God's awesome creation. And in today's post I wish to express my gratitude to God for creating Nature in all it's beauty and the different seasons that bring with them the choicest of its bounty. We know of a lot of fruits and vegetables (and even fish) that are seasonal. The most popular fruit that comes to everyone's mind is the Mango that tops the list of seasonal fruits. Summer of course is the best time of the year when fruits can be enjoyed as they bring that refreshment into our parched bodies. However, there are also some vegetables that are available only during Winter and so on (since there isn't much of a Spring or Fall in India, I won't talk about them).


Since we are well into the Monsoons, people who are familiar with this particular herb may have already prepared it once or twice. I am talking about this quintessential monsoon herb called Thaikulo in Konkani, Thojank in Tulu, Takrike in Kannada, Takara in Malayalam, Chakvad in Hindi & Cassia Tora in English which is a wild herb that grows in open areas especially after a few showers of rain. I am not sure if many have heard about it today, but the earlier generations used to religiously have it at least once a year prepared in the form of a stir fry dish (thoran/sukka bhaaji). The Jackfruit seeds that were saved up during the Summer were sliced and used in this preparation and it gave that yummy nutty taste to the entire dish. I am told that Thaikulo was not as popular in the city as it was in the outskirts of Mangalore which is one reason why although I had heard its name I had never tasted it (at least I don't remember having eaten it while in Mangalore - but then I used to engage myself in everything except kitchen matters!)

Cassia Tora Linn which is the botanical name of Thaikulo which is often passed off as 'baji' or 'spinach/leafy greens' is actually a herb by nature and is a wonder herb at that. As per Ayurveda it pacifies vitiated tridosha, skin diseases, dandruff, constipation, cough, hepatitis, fever and hemorrhoids. It is popularly called as Sickle Senna or Ringworm Plant as it is known to treat skin diseases like ringworm and itching or body scratch & psoriasis. I am sure that Mangaloreans who have spent a considerable chunk of their childhood in Mangalore or its outskirts have definitely seen the plant if they have not known that it was Thaikulo. It looks a lot like Methi leaves except that its leaves are a wee bit larger than Methi. However, it does not have the bitter taste that is the trademark of Methi.


Since I have learnt a lot about Mangalores authentic cuisine after I got married and my dear husband being the one who also encouraged me to start this blog, he was more than thrilled when his office staff member picked up two bunches of Thaikulo from Matunga market last week. Since I had also saved up on some Jackfruit seeds I decided to use them to prepare this dish, of course after receiving some step by step details from him about how to clean the leaves and prepare it. I also chanced upon some ambades (hog plums) last week after so many years of hunting for them and tossed in one of them for its tangy taste and the resultant dish was simply delicious!! We thoroughly enjoyed our simple evening meal accompanied by lengthy discussions on the subject of seasonal foods.

Pic above: Jackfruit Seeds with skin (L) and without skin (R)

If you manage to get the Thaikulo/Chakvad (and I hope you do if you have never tried it before), make sure you pluck only the leaves. Unlike regular Spinach, neither the leaves nor the stalk is tender. Go ahead and cook this in a cooker if you like as the leaves need to be well cooked and you needn't worry about the leaves turning into a mushy pulp because they won't (but don't go beyond one whistle in the pressure cooker). Skip the Jackfruit seeds and go with the potatoes instead. You can go all creative and team this up with Chana (chickpeas). I have used the famous Mangalorean vegetable masala powder which is available in most Mangalore Store outlets in Mumbai and Don Stores/Konkan Traders in Mangalore, but if you don't have it, go ahead and use whatever masala powder you like. It doesn't alter the taste of the herb which is a winner anyway. Let not the lack of ingredients discourage you from trying this.

Good to know: In Mangalore, the stalks of this herb are collected, dried and used as firewood to heat the traditional baan (large copper cauldron used to heat water for bathing)! So you see, in the olden days, people made the most of what was freely (actually!) available in their gardens or that which grew in the wild. They neither spent time & effort trying to cultivate it as a crop nor did they have to buy it from those who cultivated it. God just made sure it was available in plenty and absolutely free of cost for all to eat, enjoy and stay healthy for the coming year! Thank you Lord!


Thaikulo Ani Bikna
Recipe Source: My husband
Serves 2-3

You Need:
  • 2 bunches of Thaikulo/Thojank/Takrike/Chakvad/Cassia Tora
  • 1/4 tsp mustard/rai
  • 1 medium onion sliced fine
  • 3-4 curry leaves/kadipatta
  • 1-1/2 tsp vegetable masala powder (or use a blend of red chilli, cumin, turmeric & coriander powders)* see note
  • 1 sliced ambado/hog plum or 1/2 tsp tamarind paste
  • 3-4 bikna/jackfruit seeds sliced
  • 1 medium potato cubed (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp oil

Method:
1. Pluck the leaves from the bunches, wash well and allow to drain completely.
2. In a cooker, heat some oil and add the mustard, when it splutters add the kadipatta and the sliced onion and fry the onion very well (till it is almost golden brown - but do not burn it). 
3. Add the vegetable masala powder and fry well. Add a little water to avoid the masala from burning. Toss in the hog plum or tamarind juice/paste, jackfruit seeds, thaikulo leaves, potatoes and salt to taste. Sprinkle a little water. 
4. Cover the lid place the weight (whistle) and cook on pressure till the whistle goes off. Turn off and allow to stand for 4-5 minutes. Open, mix well and cook on slow flame for 2 minutes
5. Serve hot with rice or chapathis

Monday, July 18, 2011

Green Chutney (For Sandwiches)

I was born into a simple family with simple needs. My dad was the sole bread winner of the family while my mother is a home maker. We went to a school just stone's throw away from home and mostly walked the distance. We visited our grandmother who also lived very close by and most of our relatives lived within 3km radius! So undoubtedly this also meant that like 99% of the Mangaloreans, we did not travel abroad for Summer vacations. Nor did we tour around the country exploring the rich cultural heritage of India or it's scenic beauty. In my previous posts I have raved about how India's coast provides so much livelihood & food to its people by way of its natural bounty, today I will tell you about the great time we had on its pristine clean beaches. 


Ours was a close knit family and I grew up in a big family - with plenty of cousins my age and we always had a blast visiting each other's homes during vacations. We would wait for our annual exams to finish so that we could pack our bags and go to each other's homes by turns. When we ran out of fresh clothes (it meant it was time to return home) we always got coaxed into staying an extra day or two by borrowing clothes and a mandatory call was made back home to inform our parents that we wouldn't be back for another few days. It was so much fun! The games we would play during the day - usually indoor board games (Scrabble, Ludo & Monopoly) & Cards and the chit chatting that started right from the time when each of us took turns to bathe in the traditional bathroom where water used to be heated in a baan (large copper pot ) fuelled by firewood or dry katti  (coconut shells) or sudethi/pido (coconut palm or just it's spine) or just koli (dry leaves usually of the jackfruit tree) till the time we fell off asleep - yapping away to glory, well into the wee hours of morning (or till the time a disgruntled & dishevelled parent came knocking on our door asking us to shut up & go to sleep!)


The star attraction of this childhood fun package was the bi-yearly family picnics that we had at the nearest beach. In our case it was always 'Thannir Bhavi' (the beach got it's name from the island close to it which had a sole borewell with fresh water - in Kannada, Thannir means cool water & bhaavi means well - so it was the only refuge for the inhabitants of the island which was surrounded by unpalatable saline water). Anyway, we would all assemble at Sultan Battery (Tippu Sultan's watch tower simply called as 'battheri' in local lingo which is now 'renovated' instead of being 'restored' and is beyond recognition) situated on the banks of the river Nethravathi and some rickety boats would then ferry us across the river to the other side from where we trotted towards the beach. Along this 5-7 minute boat ride kids were again asked to shut up & sit still while the ladies indulged in fervent prayer asking God to keep our boat from toppling over. I still remember the age old Konkani hymns that were meant for a safe journey sung by my cousin's grandma. Once we reached the other side, there was no stopping us as we ran towards the inviting waters and had a frolickin' time while the adults sat under the shade of the Casurina trees (called as chapkanche rook in Konkani if im not mistaken) and had their own silly stuff to talk about (ahem!). Besides sun bathing the Indian way (fully dressed - lol!) we also caught kube (clams/cockles) in the shallow water. When tea break was announced we hungrily devoured the snacks which our mothers rustled up at home (each of them made one item) - green chutney & butter sandwiches, dahi vada, potato wafers, meat puffs, buns and lemonade. After which came the part I hated the most - changing into fresh clothes as the evening winds blew into our brain & spinal cord & made us shiver. It was such an ordeal to get sand out of every nook & corner of our body & clothes - Icky! And then of course came the journey back home by the local bus (the boat ride was not so safe on our way back apparently) and getting off at our respective bus stops and trudging along back home with not-so-gentle reminders of sand still stuck in odd places (i'm grinning here!). The salt water dip & breeze did us good and it was so ritualistic & therapeutic for me that I miss it so much now (I don't dare step into the waters of Mumbai). Those were definitely the best days of my life. The ocean is just a part of me I guess and I still make it a point to visit the beaches of Mangalore whenever possible. 


Green Chutney
You Need:
  • 1 cup freshly grated coconut*see note
  • 1 loosely packed cup coriander leaves
  • a few mint leaves (about 4-5)
  • 1-2 green chillies (or more)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds (optional)
  • 3 quarters of a lime - juice extracted
  • salt to taste
Method:
Wash the coriander & mint leaves well, drain and grind them along with the rest of the ingredients to a coarse paste. Refrigerate and use up within 2 days.

Note: 
You can use just 1/2 cup of grated coconut if you don't like the coconut-y taste. I used 1 cup as the leafy taste was a bit overbearing.



Friday, July 15, 2011

Bajiyechin Katlisaan (Spinach Cutlets)

On my last trip to the market I picked up a large bunch of Malabar Spinach (Valche Baji) which I split into two portions - one of which was used to prepare a vegetable gravy with black eyed peas (Valchebaji ani Guley) and I wanted to try some spinach cutlets with the remaining leaves. I have the fondest memories of the spinach cutlet as when I was little my sister had taken part in a cooking contest in school and had even won the prize. My most vivid memory of that contest is that she had come out just before the judges came to dig into what each contestant had prepared and handed me one sizzling hot cutlet to taste. Since it was mid morning and I was always a hungry child, I gobbled up that cutlet in no time and it tasted nothing short of delicious. This was more than two decades ago yet my memory of that exact spot where I stood & ate that cutlet still remains fresh in my mind. This was right outside the hall that connected the primary school and high school and housed all the Kannada medium classes. If you have visited/studied at Ladyhill School in Mangalore before the old construction was struck down and made way for the new building, then you will know what I mean. 

Above pic: Cutlets dipped in gram flour batter before frying

You might wonder why I am correlating the cutlets to my school and the old vs new building. Well, apart from that  memory of the cooking contest and the cutlet I ate, maybe it was also by coincidence that whenever we had fancy fetes held by our school in view of raising funds for the construction of the new building a few students were hand picked to bring home cooked snacks and other food stuff to be sold in the snack stalls and invariably someone or the brought spinach cutlet mixture and it was one of the items that always got sold off like hot cakes (hot cutlets, if you please!)

Anyways, cutlets have always remained to be my favourite. In Mangalore, they are often made as an accompaniment to booze (liquor) when men guzzle down a few pegs and munch on the cutlets (usually made of minced beef or chicken), however, the spinach cutlets are not too famous, but I think they need a special mention for catering to the pure vegetarians among the guests. Since almost every backyard in Mangalore has its own Spinach growing, Cutlets are a pretty interesting variation of eating it. A cutlet is called as 'Katlis' in Konkani and Katlisaan is it's plural form. Baji is a universal name for Spinach and Malabar Spinach is commonly used to make these cutlets, however you can use any type of spinach. Palak would be the most easily available one, so go ahead & make it!

Above pic: Cutlets dipped in egg wash before frying
Spinach Cutlets
Yield 6 medium size cutlets
Serves 2

You Need:
  • 175gm spinach or beetroot leaves (2 cups approx)
  • 1 tbsp coriander leaves chopped
  • 1 big onion finely chopped
  • 150gm potatoes
  • 1/2 inch ginger finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli finely chopped
  • 5 flakes of garlic finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp pepper powder
  • 1 pinch garam masala powder
  • a sprinkling of sugar * see note
  • 1/2 tsp meet mirsang (salt chilli paste) or substitute with red chilli powder
  • 3 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp vinegar
  • 2 egg whites or 1 tbsp gram flour (besan)
  • toast powder (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • oil for frying
Method:
1. Wash the spinach leaves and allow to dry. Mince them fine and keep aside (see note). Pressure cook the potatoes with a little salt, peel and mash them well. Keep aside
2. Heat about 1 tbsp oil in a wok or pan and fry the chopped ingredients (onions, 3Gs (ginger, green chilli, garlic) & coriander leaves) and when they turn pale add the minced spinach leaves and fry till the leaves are cooked.
3. Add pepper powder, garam masala powder and salt chilli paste and mix well. Add sugar, bread crumbs, salt & vinegar, mix some more & then add the mashed potato. Mix well and remove off the flame.
4. Once the mixture has cooled off a bit, form into balls using a little toast powder and flatten into round shapes, dip in gram flour batter and fry on both sides till golden brown


Note: 
1. Make sure that the spinach leaves are completely dry before using. They leave a lot of water by nature and you don't want your mixture to turn soggy/watery because of freshly washed & undrained leaves.
2. Don't let the mention of sugar in cutlets scare you away. It actually makes the cutlets more flavourful and helps tone down the spice (especially of green chillies) which can otherwise give out a very raw spicy taste to the cutlets. However, you may skip the sugar altogether if you do not wish to put it.



Updated Post - May 5th, 2014 : Beetroot Greens Cutlets


Monday, July 11, 2011

Chicken Curry with Dates & Tamarind

So we are back to Monday, the weekend is over and I have no idea how the time has flown by. Saturday is my most favourite day - a day reserved for family fun. My husband and I love to watch movies and eat out and since it was his birthday last week, we decided to go out for dinner along with some dear friends last night. Ate out at a new Spanish restaurant (one of the many in my locality that boast of continental/world cuisine) - the place was pretty nice but probably not geared up to serve their guests in style and on time. So yes, after waiting for ages for our food to arrive and having spent a good 3 hours listening to the svelte woman belting out many numbers on & on we ate some exotic sounding delicacies which were a little bland for our Indian palettes but we pounced on it hungrily and also finished off a divine mud cake in no time. The whole experience of eating out is just so nice - there is always something nice to look forward to when you try out a new place - the ambience, the service and most importantly the food. And music? Oh! Who can resist great music that gives you company while you dig into that nice plate of Seafood Paella or Mutton Shanks with Saffron Risotto? Yum na? Even the thought of the menu makes me salivate right now and I can't wait for another occasion to visit another nice place soon.


Since we ate out a lot last week, I decided to make something simple yet satisfying for lunch on Sunday. Hubbykins bought some Sanna from a Mangalorean bakery nearby and I was so pleased as I hadn't planned to make them at home and it was nice to know that we managed to get some before they got over. This Chicken curry is my mum-in-law's speciality. I have to admit that her way of making it is any day better than how I can make it. I solely blame the mixer grinder I have as it's a known fact that masala ground in a traditional 'Gatno' (grinding stone) always tastes better than anything else. I asked her for the recipe almost as soon as I had finished my meal at my in-laws' when I was just a new bride. Since then I have turned to this recipe so often that I remember the ingredients by heart. Whenever my mum-in-law used to make it, she would save up some of the extra gravy for the next morning when we would finish it up with hot chapathis and then wash down the entire morning meal with a nice cup (or should I say glass) of hot coffee - filter coffee made the Mangalorean way. I have also made this curry several times to go with Sweet Pulao, so I think my best memories are of these two accompaniments - Pulao & Chapathis.


This recipe calls for the Bafat powder that most Mangaloreans stock up on the whole year through and which comes so handy in times like these - when you don't want to slave over something elaborate in the kitchen. If your chicken is tender, you can get this curry done under 30 minutes (does not include time taken to thaw the chicken!) And it's an ideal recipe for those who like medium spicy curries  and also those who don't like coconut based curries as this one is onion based. The natural sweetness of the dates and the tangy tamarind give you a nice sweet n sour taste. The onion base provides the thickness to the gravy making it so versatile - have it with rice or with chapathis. For a moment, I wanted to name this 'Sweet n Sour Chicken' - but then it would sound so 'Chinese' and give the wrong impression. As much as I like world cuisine, I think I should retain the authenticity of this darling recipe!

Chicken Curry with Dates & Tamarind
Serves 5-6

You Need:
  • 1 kg chicken
  • 4 medium onions roughly sliced (for grinding)
  • 1 small onion finely sliced (for seasoning)
  • 1/2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 3 dates (pitted)
  • 2-1/2 tsp bafat powder
  • 1 small pod of Indian garlic with skin (or about 10 cloves)
  • 1/2 inch ginger
  • a sprinkling of sugar (optional)
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp ghee (optional)
  • 2 medium size potatoes (optional)
Method:
1. Cut the chicken into medium size pieces, wash & allow to drain. Peel the potatoes and cut them into roughly 1 cm thick slices.
2. Grind the 4 onions, tamarind paste, dates, bafat powder, ginger & garlic to a fine paste. In a large wok heat some cooking poil and add the ghee (just for the fragrance and flavour) and fry the finely sliced onion till it turns pink. Add the ground masala and fry on slow flame till the raw onion smell disappears (this can take about 4-5 minutes) - take care to keep stirring once in a while.
3. Add half a cup of water to the mixie/food processor used to grind the masala and use that water for the gravy. Add in the potatoes and salt to taste and allow to cook for about 3-4 minutes
4. Add the chicken and cook on a slow flame, toss in half the coriander leaves when the chicken is half cooked and garnish with the remaining half when the chicken is completely done. There is no need to add any extra water for the gravy as the chicken will leave its stock. The gravy needs to be thick
5. Serve hot with rice, sanna or chapathi


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Daliso Saar/Bele Saar (Lentil Clear Soup)

The most common definition of 'Dal' is 'thick stew prepared out of dried pulses (lentils, peas or beans) and eaten across India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Dal as a dish (or side dish) is probably more famous in its 'thick' form where the lentils are cooked until mushy and then mashed to arrive at a thick consistency. However, to the South Indian, this humble Dal usually made watery thin, seasoned with mustard, curry leaves and garlic and called a 'Saar' is a close cousin of the Rasam. 'Saar's can be of various types depending on the ingredients that go into it. In local language, Soppu Saar is the one that has leafy greens in it while Bele Saar is the one with lentils and Tomato Saar is made of pureed Tomatoes. Bele Saar is what is called as 'Daliso Saar' in Konkani


In Mangalore, since we have an abundance of Bilimbi Trees (at least one tree per backyard), 'Bimblies' - small oblong sour fruits often find themselves in our Dal preparation as the souring agent. Alternatively even tomatoes are used to prepare the 'Daliso Saar'. The Bilimbi commonly known as the Bimbli/Vilimbipuli in local language across South India is a close cousin of the  Carambola (commonly known as 'Carmbaal' or Star Fruit) and is said to have originated in Tropical America and spread to other parts of the world especially South Asia. So often the term 'Daliso Saar' is interchanged with 'Bimblyanso Saar'. 



Dal is probably one of the most versatile dishes forming an essential item on the every day menu of thousands of households across India. Dal being one of the best sources of protein is what the vegetarians heavily bank on as this is one of their few inexepensive yet rich sources of protein. While in North India, the thick dal is eaten along with rotis (flat bread) if you travel down South, it is more watery in consistency and is eaten with rice and vegetables. Well, I know a lot of North Indian friends who shriek at the sight of so much water that forms the base of our 'Dals' but then call it 'Lentil Clear Soup' if you please, you will still find this fragrant concoction irresistible & satisfying - especially when you have it along with steaming hot boiled or white rice with a side dish of any vegetable made 'Thel Piao' (Thoran) style with a nice chunky piece of spicy fish fry for company. Divine!! 

Irrespective of how you make it, Dal is Dal - eat it in any form and with any thing, it will never fail to satisfy you. I couldn't agree more with my friend Michelle who says that every household in India will have their own version of dal and naturally everybody's mum cooks the perfect one which outshines yours anyday. Even in Mangalore we have several versions of the Dal and every die hard Dali Tove (also called as Dalitoy) fan will claim theirs is the best version. I will post the recipe of that as well, but for now it's the Daliso Saar - a favourite in most Mangalorean Catholic households and definitely my husband's favourite


Daliso Saar/Bele Saar
Serves 4


You Need:
  • 1/2 cup toor dal (split pigeon peas)
  • 2 cups water (or more)
  • 1 inch ginger chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1 medium size onion sliced fine
  • 5-6 medium size bimblies sliced into thick rounds or 1 small tomato sliced
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves roughly torn (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • 2-3 drops of oil
For the tempering
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp bafat powder or chilli powder
  • 2-3 tsp oil
Method:
1. Wash the lentils 2-3 times (or till the water runs clear) and pressure cook them for about 2-3 whistles with 2 cups of water, a little salt & 2 drops of oil (which speeds up the cooking). When the weight (whistle) turns loose, remove the lentils and keep aside and put the water into a pan. The lentils should be 90% cooked (they will break across the edges) - this is if you want to eat whole lentils instead of them turning too mushy. If you prefer mushy, cook the lentils a little longer
2. Add the sliced/chopped ingredients - onion, ginger, garlic, green chillies into the lentil water, check salt & add more if required. You can even add some more water if you prefer it watery. When the ingredients are almost cooked, add sliced rounds of bimblies and boil for another minute or so.
3. Add the cooked dal which was kept aside and give it one boil. Now the 'Saar' is ready for seasoning
4. For the seasoning, keep the bafat or chilli powder handy in a small round ladle. Heat some oil in a small pan and toss in the mustard, when it splutters add the crushed garlic and reduce the flame. Toss the garlic about till it turns pale brown and add the curry leaves and immediately add this mixture to the bafat powder - this way you can avoid the masala powder from burning. Add the entire seasoning to the 'Saar'. Turn off flame, toss in the coriander leaves, cover the vessel and serve hot with rice.




Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Meet Mirsang/Puli Munchi (Salt & Chilli Paste)

I am sure that whoever is fond of fish is undoubtedly fond of its fried form! It goes without saying that being a Mangalorean I love fish in any form - in a curry, fried, baked, grilled or steamed, but the fried variety wins hands down any day. It is a known fact that even people who have never eaten a lot of fish in their lives tend to prefer it fried than in a curry as the fried version invariably tones down the 'fishy' smell.

In Mangalore, we use a ready to use salt and chilli paste called the 'Meet Mirsang' which is very handy and can be made to use basic fish curries besides being used to marinate fish before frying. This paste was traditionally ground on a 'Gatno' (grinding stone/mortar & pestle made of granite stone) and scooped out with a dry 'katti' (coconut shell) as even the moisture from one's hand could render the paste useless when stored at room temperature. This also explains why vinegar is used to grind the paste which along with salt acts like a preservative.


During my childhood, the yummiest fish fry was always marinated in Meet Mirsang, it is only during the latter years of my time in Mangalore that out of sheer lack of time that we resorted to a quick fix of the marinade made of Bafat Powder, tamarind paste and salt. I continued that tradition (of using Bafat powder) for many years after getting married. I think I need to thank my blog for making me break out of my comfort zone and try out traditional recipes which are actually not as much of an effort (or rocket science) as I had thought earlier. 

When I was a child, we would have fried fish (fresh or dried) on Saturdays and more often during the Monsoons, I don't know the reason behind it, but it just seemed so perfect. We also had meal combos that just tasted heavenly. Like the vegetable gravy - Valchebaji ani Guley and Sardine Fry or Daliso Saar (Mangalorean Watery Dal/Lentils) and Mackerel Fry. Since the time I got married I have tried to maintain this custom and also love to have fried Mackerels with Kulta Kaat (Horsegram & Madras Cucumber Curry)

I am sure every family has their favourite combinations...if you have the same memories that I do, do let me know what your favourite combinations are...


The Meet Mirsang has definitely added that spark into our mealtimes as it makes fried fish ultra tasty and makes us pick out all edible parts of the fish and thoroughly enjoy the experience of having a meal with loved ones at home. Chatting and talking and helping ourselves to that extra spoon of boiled rice and curry or saar (recipe to follow) to accompany the pieces of fish waiting to be finished.


Picture above: Mackerels marinated in Meet Mirsang are sizzling on a hot 'kail' (frying pan)

For people who are hard pressed for time, it is best to make this paste in small batches and refrigerate it (if you are using water to grind). You can use it for a multitude of recipes including chicken and fish curries that call for a combination of the chillies, jeera and vinegar.

Meet Mirsang 
You Need:
  • 100 dry red chillies (Bedgi/Byadge - also known as Kumti Mirsang/Kundapur chillies)
  • 1 tsp cumin/jeera
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi powder
  • 8 tsp salt (increase it as per taste)
  • 12 tbsp vinegar (or about 150ml) *see note
Method:
Remove the stalk of the chillies and grind to a powder with the jeera and turmeric powder if you are using a dry mixer grinder. Add the salt & vinegar and grind to a fine paste. If you are using the traditional Mangalorean Gatno you can toss in all the above ingredients to grind to a fine paste. 

Note:
If you are using a mixer grinder to grind this masala, you will notice that the given quantity of vinegar will not be sufficient to achieve the paste consistency. Ideally Meet Mirsang is made with vinegar to grind the spices and hence may require as much as 500-750ml of vinegar. This helps the paste to remain fresh and for very long periods of time when stored even at room temperature.


Since I am not too fond of the vinegar and it's acrid smell, I use just about 11-12 tbsp and supplement the liquid requirement with boiled & cooled water - this of course means you cannot store the paste outside at room temperature as it will spoil fast so I make in small batches and refrigerate and use within 2-3 weeks at the most.

You can also substitute vinegar with tamarind paste and refrigerate it.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Special! Bokryachya Botyechi Kadi (Traditional Mutton Tripe Curry)

Let me begin my post with a statutory warning! Vegetarians beware! And those of you who think eating anything apart from the flesh from the visible parts of a bird or animal is unthinkable or next to offensive, stop right here!

For those of you who think this is an exotic unheard of dish or the tasted-a-million-times and love it dish, let me tell you that I belong to both the categories. Bokryachi Boti (let us call it simply 'boti) was an unheard of exotic dish (only for me although my family had eaten it) till I got married and after that I've had it a lot of times at my in-laws. The only reason why my mum-in-law still continues to slave over this Mangalorean delicacy is because R simply loves it. So each time we visit Mangalore, among the other specialities, the Boti curry finds its way on the 'to-make while they're here' list. It must be noted that in Hindi, Boti simply means tiny pieces (usually of meat), however, in Mangalore, it is actually a collective term for Tripe.


Not too many people make it at home any more as simply put 'Tripe' is nothing but the intestines of the Sheep and includes the stomach and cleaning it is a big task that involves a huge chunk of time and loads of effort. So what may sound offensive to some is actually a delicacy amongst Mangalorean Catholics with a lot of die hard fans of the Boti. Traditionally the cleaning of the Tripe was done at the washing stone which usually has access to plenty of water. Plenty of 'cleaning' ingredients ranging from Chuna/Suno (Edible Lime powder), bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves and salt were used along with boiling hot water to wash the intestines sparkling clean and devoid of odour. Today, due to space constraints and lack of gardens/yards or washing stones, people find it difficult to clean it at home and in India, the cleaning done by the butcher is not up to the mark unless you are able to find it at  supermarkets with some standards. I am assuming it is available in a 'pristinely' clean condition abroad.


Last week R & I were making a list of our favourite Mangalorean foods which are dying a slow death, we thought we must include the Boti and try it at home if we chance upon it at the Butchers. Just like in Mangalore where you need to book the Boti in advance, we managed to do the same here at the Andheri market which is to us what the Vodli market at State Bank (a place named after the head office of the Bank) is to Mangaloreans living in Mangalore. Since I had never tried my hand at cleaning the Boti, my man did the honours (did I tell you he's a great cook himself?) and spent a good 1-1/2 hours cleaning the spare parts to a bright Ujjala white! His madame then spent the next 45-50 minutes grinding the masala, boiling the lentils and putting this amazing dish together! I must tell you that we both enjoyed our experience doing the work we had split between us and proclaimed to each other that - boti ki kasam, we would do this once again! Next time we'd bring more Botis and clean and freeze it for later (who wants to do the hard work over & over again?) 

If you have never tasted it, let me describe it for you - it's a little chewy but tastes awesome along with the chana dal and a spicy coconut-y creamy gravy. Perfect for a special Sunday afternoon!



Mutton Tripe Curry (Botyechi Kadi)
Serves: 4-6

You Need:
  • 1 Tripe
  • 125gm chana dal
  • salt to tase
  • ghee 2-3 tbsp
  • 1 cup thin coconut milk
  • 2 cups thick coconut milk
For the masala
  • 3/4th cup grated coconut
  • 8 long red chillies (Kumti/Bedgi) *see note
  • 7-8 peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds/dhania
  • 1 tsp cumin/jeera
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric/haldi
  • 1/2 inch ginger
  • 1 small ball of tamarind
For the shindaap (cuttings)
  • 1 medium size onion
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1 small pod of garlic (around 8-10flakes)
For the tempering/seasoning
  • 1/2 onion sliced fine
  • ghee or oil
Method:
1. Clean the tripe with lots of freshly boiled water and remove (scrape) the outer skin with the help of a knife. Clean the insides thoroughly with plenty of salt, bay leaves, cinnamon & cloves. Wash multiple times in fresh cool water till all the odour vanishes. Pressure cook with bay leaves, cloves and cinnamon and the ingredients mentioned in 'For the shindaap' . Remove and allow to cool and cut into small pieces. Keep aside (discard the bay leaves, cloves & cinnamon)
2. Cook the chana dal in plenty of water till well cooked but not mushy (soft enough to bite)
3. Heat some ghee in a heavy bottomed pan and fry all the ingredients mentioned under 'For the masala' one by one (separately). When they have sufficiently cooled, grind to a fine paste using a little water. 
4. Add this masala back to the pan and the masala water from the mixer jar to form a thick gravy. Add the tripe pieces, mix well. Add the thin coconut milk and the precooked chana dal and boil for 2 minutes (or lesser, depending on how much the dal has cooked -don't allow it to turn mushy). Finally add the thick coconut milk and bring the gravy to a rolling boil, leaving the pan uncovered. Season it with 1/2 onion sliced fine and turn off the flame
5. Serve hot with steaming white or brown rice






Friday, July 29, 2011

Beef Chilli Fry



Although we don't eat a lot of red meat too often for health reasons (limiting our red meat intake to about once in every two months or so), hubbykins and I were discussing our various Mangalorean favourites and the discussion became a lengthy one about ingredients as well. We both felt that I had a lot of recipes on the blog which required coconut (grated or milk) and that it wasn't fair to those people who were unable to obtain the same (it's like tempting them to have something they couldn't find). I also got a mail from a reader, Priyanka who asked for some vegetarian & Beef recipes which of course make no use of coconut in any form. Since then I have been jotting down recipes which fall in that category and have been trying some varieties. 

Since R loves Beef and I don't like it as much as I like Mutton, we always end up making Beef Sukka on those rare occasions when we get it. My mum also used to make a lot of Beef Sukka which my dad was a huge fan of. And since we used to always get poor quality Mutton in Mangalore (with little meat and lots of bones) it was always Beef that was eaten when you wanted a change from the regular Sunday Chicken curry and a whole week of sea food or vegetables.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bangude Ghassi (Bunt Style Spicy Mackerel Curry)



Last week I went hunting for some fish and thanks to the torrential rains, there wasn't much on display to be happy about. Just the usual fare - Mackerels, Pomfrets, King Fish (Surmai), Indian Salmon (Rawas), Prawns & Crabs. Since I don't eat the latter two (yeah, it's such a pity, but I am allergic to these crustaceous babies although thankfully not allergic to Clams & Squid ), I ended up buying whatever was on offer. Mackerels for me, Prawns for the husband and Pomfrets for the toddler (although he's the best among the three of us - eats fish with as much passion as a fisherman would fish!)

Since it is human nature to complain, it is but natural to complain about the scorching heat during the Summer and the crazy rains during the Monsoons - and also wail that there is no fish as fishing boats stay put (most times). Most of us fish lovers end up eating the same type of fish week after week or just seek more carnivorous options such as white & red meat besides eggs. Since we don't bring a lot of red meat regularly and Chicken becomes a bore if eaten more than twice a week, I decided to play around with some recipes for the fish sitting in my freezer. I didn't have to hunt too much, for I had already tried Charishma's recipes before, so I blindly followed her instructions to make this gorgeous Mackerel curry - a famous Bunt version called the Bangude Ghassi - oh so spicy and perfect for a rainy day when everything outside looks bleak and depressing. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Simple Chicken Stew

Woo hoo!! It's Sunday and I am wondering yet again how the week has flown by. My son started schooling and thankfully its been a great experience for him as well as for us as parents. I think with the new teaching techniques kids find it a lot more fun to attend school and they actually look forward to it. As a parent I was really worried and prepared for a few days of tantrums from my little one as I got him dressed for school, but to my amazement none of that happened. Thanks to the playschool concept that is in vogue these days, he was very prepared and actually looking forward to attending a 'big school'. This ofcourse took a whole load off my mind as I didn't have to battle with a 3 year old every morning and reason out why he needed to attend school. This is something my mum went through with me every single day when I was a kid. So, these are definitely moments I truly treasure. Simple pleasures of life are those that just put a smile on your face and a song in your heart.

Well, a smile and a song reminds me of the movie I watched last Sunday - Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (roughly meaning that you live only once). Although I am not very good at writing movie reviews, I cannot help but write about that beautifully made movie with such a striking theme. It's all about the simplicity of life and taking each day as it comes and most importantly seizing the day and making the most of it doing the things you love and spending it with people you love. The movie is set in Spain where 3 Indian childhood buddies spend a short vacation after years and decide to go on a road trip to explore the country. I won't give away the story for those who haven't watched it yet, but for those who have already, I am sure you'll agree that the movie in itself does not rush through the sequences. There are plenty of scenes to promote tourism for Spain but most importantly a lot of footage is dedicated to just showing flowers or horses running - just so beautiful, there's a kind of laziness there which makes you want to do all of those things that the protagonists try to do while on their break from the mad rush of their lives. The entire movie is peppered with great humour and easy breezy camaraderie between the star cast. Great songs & great picturisation keep you entertained throughout and the best part is that it does not have a typical Bollywood style melodramatic ending. Very practical and logical ending - what else do we need? Larger than life is passe! It's time to watch something closer to reality.

So if you are wondering what to make this Sunday for lunch, why don't you give this beautiful Chicken curry a try? Chicken soaked in a spicy curry sweetened by Coconut milk that also gives it the sweetness and flavour it deserves. So, go make it, enjoy your meal and Carpe Diem my friends!


Simple Chicken Stew

You Need:
  • 1kg chicken
  • 8 dry red chillies * see notes
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds (khus khus)
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 1 pod or about 10 flakes garlic (Indian) with skin
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 large onions thinly sliced (add an extra onion for a rich gravy)
  • 2 cups thick coconut milk *see notes
  • 1-1/2 tbsp vinegar
  • 5-6 cloves
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • few coriander leaves
  • salt to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp ghee or oil
Method
1. Cut the chicken into medium size pieces, wash & drain well.
2. Grind the red chillies, poppy seeds, salt, turmeric, ginger, garlic in a little water to a fine paste.
3. Heat some ghee or oil in a pan and fry the onions for about 3-4 till they turn golden brown (they should be fried well and not just limp/translucent - but take care to see that they don't burn).
4. Add the masala and fry it well. Add the chicken and fry on a slow flame. Toss in the cinnamon & cloves. Don't add any extra water. Keep stirring in between and fry till all the pieces are well coated and appear reddish.
5. Add the coconut milk and bring it to a boil. Adjust the thickness of the gravy by adding some masala water (from the mixer grinder). Add the vinegar and adjust the salt and cook till the chicken is done.
6. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice, sannas, panpole

Notes:
  • Although I like moderate spice in my curries, I went ahead & used 8 Kumti (Bedgi/Kundapur) chillies as the sweetness in the coconut milk balanced out the spiciness. You can use Kashmiri chillies instead of Bedgi.
  • To make this stew in a jiffy I use Maggi instant coconut milk powder. To make 2 cups of milk, take about 1-1/2 cups of warm water and add about 5-6 tbsps of powder to get thick coconut milk. Alternatively you can extract milk from about 1-1/2 coconuts (depending on how large they are).

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Thaikulo Ani Bikna (Monsoon Herbs With Jackfruit Seeds)

A lot has been said and written about God's awesome creation. And in today's post I wish to express my gratitude to God for creating Nature in all it's beauty and the different seasons that bring with them the choicest of its bounty. We know of a lot of fruits and vegetables (and even fish) that are seasonal. The most popular fruit that comes to everyone's mind is the Mango that tops the list of seasonal fruits. Summer of course is the best time of the year when fruits can be enjoyed as they bring that refreshment into our parched bodies. However, there are also some vegetables that are available only during Winter and so on (since there isn't much of a Spring or Fall in India, I won't talk about them).


Since we are well into the Monsoons, people who are familiar with this particular herb may have already prepared it once or twice. I am talking about this quintessential monsoon herb called Thaikulo in Konkani, Thojank in Tulu, Takrike in Kannada, Takara in Malayalam, Chakvad in Hindi & Cassia Tora in English which is a wild herb that grows in open areas especially after a few showers of rain. I am not sure if many have heard about it today, but the earlier generations used to religiously have it at least once a year prepared in the form of a stir fry dish (thoran/sukka bhaaji). The Jackfruit seeds that were saved up during the Summer were sliced and used in this preparation and it gave that yummy nutty taste to the entire dish. I am told that Thaikulo was not as popular in the city as it was in the outskirts of Mangalore which is one reason why although I had heard its name I had never tasted it (at least I don't remember having eaten it while in Mangalore - but then I used to engage myself in everything except kitchen matters!)

Cassia Tora Linn which is the botanical name of Thaikulo which is often passed off as 'baji' or 'spinach/leafy greens' is actually a herb by nature and is a wonder herb at that. As per Ayurveda it pacifies vitiated tridosha, skin diseases, dandruff, constipation, cough, hepatitis, fever and hemorrhoids. It is popularly called as Sickle Senna or Ringworm Plant as it is known to treat skin diseases like ringworm and itching or body scratch & psoriasis. I am sure that Mangaloreans who have spent a considerable chunk of their childhood in Mangalore or its outskirts have definitely seen the plant if they have not known that it was Thaikulo. It looks a lot like Methi leaves except that its leaves are a wee bit larger than Methi. However, it does not have the bitter taste that is the trademark of Methi.


Since I have learnt a lot about Mangalores authentic cuisine after I got married and my dear husband being the one who also encouraged me to start this blog, he was more than thrilled when his office staff member picked up two bunches of Thaikulo from Matunga market last week. Since I had also saved up on some Jackfruit seeds I decided to use them to prepare this dish, of course after receiving some step by step details from him about how to clean the leaves and prepare it. I also chanced upon some ambades (hog plums) last week after so many years of hunting for them and tossed in one of them for its tangy taste and the resultant dish was simply delicious!! We thoroughly enjoyed our simple evening meal accompanied by lengthy discussions on the subject of seasonal foods.

Pic above: Jackfruit Seeds with skin (L) and without skin (R)

If you manage to get the Thaikulo/Chakvad (and I hope you do if you have never tried it before), make sure you pluck only the leaves. Unlike regular Spinach, neither the leaves nor the stalk is tender. Go ahead and cook this in a cooker if you like as the leaves need to be well cooked and you needn't worry about the leaves turning into a mushy pulp because they won't (but don't go beyond one whistle in the pressure cooker). Skip the Jackfruit seeds and go with the potatoes instead. You can go all creative and team this up with Chana (chickpeas). I have used the famous Mangalorean vegetable masala powder which is available in most Mangalore Store outlets in Mumbai and Don Stores/Konkan Traders in Mangalore, but if you don't have it, go ahead and use whatever masala powder you like. It doesn't alter the taste of the herb which is a winner anyway. Let not the lack of ingredients discourage you from trying this.

Good to know: In Mangalore, the stalks of this herb are collected, dried and used as firewood to heat the traditional baan (large copper cauldron used to heat water for bathing)! So you see, in the olden days, people made the most of what was freely (actually!) available in their gardens or that which grew in the wild. They neither spent time & effort trying to cultivate it as a crop nor did they have to buy it from those who cultivated it. God just made sure it was available in plenty and absolutely free of cost for all to eat, enjoy and stay healthy for the coming year! Thank you Lord!


Thaikulo Ani Bikna
Recipe Source: My husband
Serves 2-3

You Need:
  • 2 bunches of Thaikulo/Thojank/Takrike/Chakvad/Cassia Tora
  • 1/4 tsp mustard/rai
  • 1 medium onion sliced fine
  • 3-4 curry leaves/kadipatta
  • 1-1/2 tsp vegetable masala powder (or use a blend of red chilli, cumin, turmeric & coriander powders)* see note
  • 1 sliced ambado/hog plum or 1/2 tsp tamarind paste
  • 3-4 bikna/jackfruit seeds sliced
  • 1 medium potato cubed (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp oil

Method:
1. Pluck the leaves from the bunches, wash well and allow to drain completely.
2. In a cooker, heat some oil and add the mustard, when it splutters add the kadipatta and the sliced onion and fry the onion very well (till it is almost golden brown - but do not burn it). 
3. Add the vegetable masala powder and fry well. Add a little water to avoid the masala from burning. Toss in the hog plum or tamarind juice/paste, jackfruit seeds, thaikulo leaves, potatoes and salt to taste. Sprinkle a little water. 
4. Cover the lid place the weight (whistle) and cook on pressure till the whistle goes off. Turn off and allow to stand for 4-5 minutes. Open, mix well and cook on slow flame for 2 minutes
5. Serve hot with rice or chapathis

Monday, July 18, 2011

Green Chutney (For Sandwiches)

I was born into a simple family with simple needs. My dad was the sole bread winner of the family while my mother is a home maker. We went to a school just stone's throw away from home and mostly walked the distance. We visited our grandmother who also lived very close by and most of our relatives lived within 3km radius! So undoubtedly this also meant that like 99% of the Mangaloreans, we did not travel abroad for Summer vacations. Nor did we tour around the country exploring the rich cultural heritage of India or it's scenic beauty. In my previous posts I have raved about how India's coast provides so much livelihood & food to its people by way of its natural bounty, today I will tell you about the great time we had on its pristine clean beaches. 


Ours was a close knit family and I grew up in a big family - with plenty of cousins my age and we always had a blast visiting each other's homes during vacations. We would wait for our annual exams to finish so that we could pack our bags and go to each other's homes by turns. When we ran out of fresh clothes (it meant it was time to return home) we always got coaxed into staying an extra day or two by borrowing clothes and a mandatory call was made back home to inform our parents that we wouldn't be back for another few days. It was so much fun! The games we would play during the day - usually indoor board games (Scrabble, Ludo & Monopoly) & Cards and the chit chatting that started right from the time when each of us took turns to bathe in the traditional bathroom where water used to be heated in a baan (large copper pot ) fuelled by firewood or dry katti  (coconut shells) or sudethi/pido (coconut palm or just it's spine) or just koli (dry leaves usually of the jackfruit tree) till the time we fell off asleep - yapping away to glory, well into the wee hours of morning (or till the time a disgruntled & dishevelled parent came knocking on our door asking us to shut up & go to sleep!)


The star attraction of this childhood fun package was the bi-yearly family picnics that we had at the nearest beach. In our case it was always 'Thannir Bhavi' (the beach got it's name from the island close to it which had a sole borewell with fresh water - in Kannada, Thannir means cool water & bhaavi means well - so it was the only refuge for the inhabitants of the island which was surrounded by unpalatable saline water). Anyway, we would all assemble at Sultan Battery (Tippu Sultan's watch tower simply called as 'battheri' in local lingo which is now 'renovated' instead of being 'restored' and is beyond recognition) situated on the banks of the river Nethravathi and some rickety boats would then ferry us across the river to the other side from where we trotted towards the beach. Along this 5-7 minute boat ride kids were again asked to shut up & sit still while the ladies indulged in fervent prayer asking God to keep our boat from toppling over. I still remember the age old Konkani hymns that were meant for a safe journey sung by my cousin's grandma. Once we reached the other side, there was no stopping us as we ran towards the inviting waters and had a frolickin' time while the adults sat under the shade of the Casurina trees (called as chapkanche rook in Konkani if im not mistaken) and had their own silly stuff to talk about (ahem!). Besides sun bathing the Indian way (fully dressed - lol!) we also caught kube (clams/cockles) in the shallow water. When tea break was announced we hungrily devoured the snacks which our mothers rustled up at home (each of them made one item) - green chutney & butter sandwiches, dahi vada, potato wafers, meat puffs, buns and lemonade. After which came the part I hated the most - changing into fresh clothes as the evening winds blew into our brain & spinal cord & made us shiver. It was such an ordeal to get sand out of every nook & corner of our body & clothes - Icky! And then of course came the journey back home by the local bus (the boat ride was not so safe on our way back apparently) and getting off at our respective bus stops and trudging along back home with not-so-gentle reminders of sand still stuck in odd places (i'm grinning here!). The salt water dip & breeze did us good and it was so ritualistic & therapeutic for me that I miss it so much now (I don't dare step into the waters of Mumbai). Those were definitely the best days of my life. The ocean is just a part of me I guess and I still make it a point to visit the beaches of Mangalore whenever possible. 


Green Chutney
You Need:
  • 1 cup freshly grated coconut*see note
  • 1 loosely packed cup coriander leaves
  • a few mint leaves (about 4-5)
  • 1-2 green chillies (or more)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds (optional)
  • 3 quarters of a lime - juice extracted
  • salt to taste
Method:
Wash the coriander & mint leaves well, drain and grind them along with the rest of the ingredients to a coarse paste. Refrigerate and use up within 2 days.

Note: 
You can use just 1/2 cup of grated coconut if you don't like the coconut-y taste. I used 1 cup as the leafy taste was a bit overbearing.



Friday, July 15, 2011

Bajiyechin Katlisaan (Spinach Cutlets)

On my last trip to the market I picked up a large bunch of Malabar Spinach (Valche Baji) which I split into two portions - one of which was used to prepare a vegetable gravy with black eyed peas (Valchebaji ani Guley) and I wanted to try some spinach cutlets with the remaining leaves. I have the fondest memories of the spinach cutlet as when I was little my sister had taken part in a cooking contest in school and had even won the prize. My most vivid memory of that contest is that she had come out just before the judges came to dig into what each contestant had prepared and handed me one sizzling hot cutlet to taste. Since it was mid morning and I was always a hungry child, I gobbled up that cutlet in no time and it tasted nothing short of delicious. This was more than two decades ago yet my memory of that exact spot where I stood & ate that cutlet still remains fresh in my mind. This was right outside the hall that connected the primary school and high school and housed all the Kannada medium classes. If you have visited/studied at Ladyhill School in Mangalore before the old construction was struck down and made way for the new building, then you will know what I mean. 

Above pic: Cutlets dipped in gram flour batter before frying

You might wonder why I am correlating the cutlets to my school and the old vs new building. Well, apart from that  memory of the cooking contest and the cutlet I ate, maybe it was also by coincidence that whenever we had fancy fetes held by our school in view of raising funds for the construction of the new building a few students were hand picked to bring home cooked snacks and other food stuff to be sold in the snack stalls and invariably someone or the brought spinach cutlet mixture and it was one of the items that always got sold off like hot cakes (hot cutlets, if you please!)

Anyways, cutlets have always remained to be my favourite. In Mangalore, they are often made as an accompaniment to booze (liquor) when men guzzle down a few pegs and munch on the cutlets (usually made of minced beef or chicken), however, the spinach cutlets are not too famous, but I think they need a special mention for catering to the pure vegetarians among the guests. Since almost every backyard in Mangalore has its own Spinach growing, Cutlets are a pretty interesting variation of eating it. A cutlet is called as 'Katlis' in Konkani and Katlisaan is it's plural form. Baji is a universal name for Spinach and Malabar Spinach is commonly used to make these cutlets, however you can use any type of spinach. Palak would be the most easily available one, so go ahead & make it!

Above pic: Cutlets dipped in egg wash before frying
Spinach Cutlets
Yield 6 medium size cutlets
Serves 2

You Need:
  • 175gm spinach or beetroot leaves (2 cups approx)
  • 1 tbsp coriander leaves chopped
  • 1 big onion finely chopped
  • 150gm potatoes
  • 1/2 inch ginger finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli finely chopped
  • 5 flakes of garlic finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp pepper powder
  • 1 pinch garam masala powder
  • a sprinkling of sugar * see note
  • 1/2 tsp meet mirsang (salt chilli paste) or substitute with red chilli powder
  • 3 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp vinegar
  • 2 egg whites or 1 tbsp gram flour (besan)
  • toast powder (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • oil for frying
Method:
1. Wash the spinach leaves and allow to dry. Mince them fine and keep aside (see note). Pressure cook the potatoes with a little salt, peel and mash them well. Keep aside
2. Heat about 1 tbsp oil in a wok or pan and fry the chopped ingredients (onions, 3Gs (ginger, green chilli, garlic) & coriander leaves) and when they turn pale add the minced spinach leaves and fry till the leaves are cooked.
3. Add pepper powder, garam masala powder and salt chilli paste and mix well. Add sugar, bread crumbs, salt & vinegar, mix some more & then add the mashed potato. Mix well and remove off the flame.
4. Once the mixture has cooled off a bit, form into balls using a little toast powder and flatten into round shapes, dip in gram flour batter and fry on both sides till golden brown


Note: 
1. Make sure that the spinach leaves are completely dry before using. They leave a lot of water by nature and you don't want your mixture to turn soggy/watery because of freshly washed & undrained leaves.
2. Don't let the mention of sugar in cutlets scare you away. It actually makes the cutlets more flavourful and helps tone down the spice (especially of green chillies) which can otherwise give out a very raw spicy taste to the cutlets. However, you may skip the sugar altogether if you do not wish to put it.



Updated Post - May 5th, 2014 : Beetroot Greens Cutlets


Monday, July 11, 2011

Chicken Curry with Dates & Tamarind

So we are back to Monday, the weekend is over and I have no idea how the time has flown by. Saturday is my most favourite day - a day reserved for family fun. My husband and I love to watch movies and eat out and since it was his birthday last week, we decided to go out for dinner along with some dear friends last night. Ate out at a new Spanish restaurant (one of the many in my locality that boast of continental/world cuisine) - the place was pretty nice but probably not geared up to serve their guests in style and on time. So yes, after waiting for ages for our food to arrive and having spent a good 3 hours listening to the svelte woman belting out many numbers on & on we ate some exotic sounding delicacies which were a little bland for our Indian palettes but we pounced on it hungrily and also finished off a divine mud cake in no time. The whole experience of eating out is just so nice - there is always something nice to look forward to when you try out a new place - the ambience, the service and most importantly the food. And music? Oh! Who can resist great music that gives you company while you dig into that nice plate of Seafood Paella or Mutton Shanks with Saffron Risotto? Yum na? Even the thought of the menu makes me salivate right now and I can't wait for another occasion to visit another nice place soon.


Since we ate out a lot last week, I decided to make something simple yet satisfying for lunch on Sunday. Hubbykins bought some Sanna from a Mangalorean bakery nearby and I was so pleased as I hadn't planned to make them at home and it was nice to know that we managed to get some before they got over. This Chicken curry is my mum-in-law's speciality. I have to admit that her way of making it is any day better than how I can make it. I solely blame the mixer grinder I have as it's a known fact that masala ground in a traditional 'Gatno' (grinding stone) always tastes better than anything else. I asked her for the recipe almost as soon as I had finished my meal at my in-laws' when I was just a new bride. Since then I have turned to this recipe so often that I remember the ingredients by heart. Whenever my mum-in-law used to make it, she would save up some of the extra gravy for the next morning when we would finish it up with hot chapathis and then wash down the entire morning meal with a nice cup (or should I say glass) of hot coffee - filter coffee made the Mangalorean way. I have also made this curry several times to go with Sweet Pulao, so I think my best memories are of these two accompaniments - Pulao & Chapathis.


This recipe calls for the Bafat powder that most Mangaloreans stock up on the whole year through and which comes so handy in times like these - when you don't want to slave over something elaborate in the kitchen. If your chicken is tender, you can get this curry done under 30 minutes (does not include time taken to thaw the chicken!) And it's an ideal recipe for those who like medium spicy curries  and also those who don't like coconut based curries as this one is onion based. The natural sweetness of the dates and the tangy tamarind give you a nice sweet n sour taste. The onion base provides the thickness to the gravy making it so versatile - have it with rice or with chapathis. For a moment, I wanted to name this 'Sweet n Sour Chicken' - but then it would sound so 'Chinese' and give the wrong impression. As much as I like world cuisine, I think I should retain the authenticity of this darling recipe!

Chicken Curry with Dates & Tamarind
Serves 5-6

You Need:
  • 1 kg chicken
  • 4 medium onions roughly sliced (for grinding)
  • 1 small onion finely sliced (for seasoning)
  • 1/2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 3 dates (pitted)
  • 2-1/2 tsp bafat powder
  • 1 small pod of Indian garlic with skin (or about 10 cloves)
  • 1/2 inch ginger
  • a sprinkling of sugar (optional)
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp ghee (optional)
  • 2 medium size potatoes (optional)
Method:
1. Cut the chicken into medium size pieces, wash & allow to drain. Peel the potatoes and cut them into roughly 1 cm thick slices.
2. Grind the 4 onions, tamarind paste, dates, bafat powder, ginger & garlic to a fine paste. In a large wok heat some cooking poil and add the ghee (just for the fragrance and flavour) and fry the finely sliced onion till it turns pink. Add the ground masala and fry on slow flame till the raw onion smell disappears (this can take about 4-5 minutes) - take care to keep stirring once in a while.
3. Add half a cup of water to the mixie/food processor used to grind the masala and use that water for the gravy. Add in the potatoes and salt to taste and allow to cook for about 3-4 minutes
4. Add the chicken and cook on a slow flame, toss in half the coriander leaves when the chicken is half cooked and garnish with the remaining half when the chicken is completely done. There is no need to add any extra water for the gravy as the chicken will leave its stock. The gravy needs to be thick
5. Serve hot with rice, sanna or chapathi


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Daliso Saar/Bele Saar (Lentil Clear Soup)

The most common definition of 'Dal' is 'thick stew prepared out of dried pulses (lentils, peas or beans) and eaten across India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Dal as a dish (or side dish) is probably more famous in its 'thick' form where the lentils are cooked until mushy and then mashed to arrive at a thick consistency. However, to the South Indian, this humble Dal usually made watery thin, seasoned with mustard, curry leaves and garlic and called a 'Saar' is a close cousin of the Rasam. 'Saar's can be of various types depending on the ingredients that go into it. In local language, Soppu Saar is the one that has leafy greens in it while Bele Saar is the one with lentils and Tomato Saar is made of pureed Tomatoes. Bele Saar is what is called as 'Daliso Saar' in Konkani


In Mangalore, since we have an abundance of Bilimbi Trees (at least one tree per backyard), 'Bimblies' - small oblong sour fruits often find themselves in our Dal preparation as the souring agent. Alternatively even tomatoes are used to prepare the 'Daliso Saar'. The Bilimbi commonly known as the Bimbli/Vilimbipuli in local language across South India is a close cousin of the  Carambola (commonly known as 'Carmbaal' or Star Fruit) and is said to have originated in Tropical America and spread to other parts of the world especially South Asia. So often the term 'Daliso Saar' is interchanged with 'Bimblyanso Saar'. 



Dal is probably one of the most versatile dishes forming an essential item on the every day menu of thousands of households across India. Dal being one of the best sources of protein is what the vegetarians heavily bank on as this is one of their few inexepensive yet rich sources of protein. While in North India, the thick dal is eaten along with rotis (flat bread) if you travel down South, it is more watery in consistency and is eaten with rice and vegetables. Well, I know a lot of North Indian friends who shriek at the sight of so much water that forms the base of our 'Dals' but then call it 'Lentil Clear Soup' if you please, you will still find this fragrant concoction irresistible & satisfying - especially when you have it along with steaming hot boiled or white rice with a side dish of any vegetable made 'Thel Piao' (Thoran) style with a nice chunky piece of spicy fish fry for company. Divine!! 

Irrespective of how you make it, Dal is Dal - eat it in any form and with any thing, it will never fail to satisfy you. I couldn't agree more with my friend Michelle who says that every household in India will have their own version of dal and naturally everybody's mum cooks the perfect one which outshines yours anyday. Even in Mangalore we have several versions of the Dal and every die hard Dali Tove (also called as Dalitoy) fan will claim theirs is the best version. I will post the recipe of that as well, but for now it's the Daliso Saar - a favourite in most Mangalorean Catholic households and definitely my husband's favourite


Daliso Saar/Bele Saar
Serves 4


You Need:
  • 1/2 cup toor dal (split pigeon peas)
  • 2 cups water (or more)
  • 1 inch ginger chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1 medium size onion sliced fine
  • 5-6 medium size bimblies sliced into thick rounds or 1 small tomato sliced
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves roughly torn (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • 2-3 drops of oil
For the tempering
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp bafat powder or chilli powder
  • 2-3 tsp oil
Method:
1. Wash the lentils 2-3 times (or till the water runs clear) and pressure cook them for about 2-3 whistles with 2 cups of water, a little salt & 2 drops of oil (which speeds up the cooking). When the weight (whistle) turns loose, remove the lentils and keep aside and put the water into a pan. The lentils should be 90% cooked (they will break across the edges) - this is if you want to eat whole lentils instead of them turning too mushy. If you prefer mushy, cook the lentils a little longer
2. Add the sliced/chopped ingredients - onion, ginger, garlic, green chillies into the lentil water, check salt & add more if required. You can even add some more water if you prefer it watery. When the ingredients are almost cooked, add sliced rounds of bimblies and boil for another minute or so.
3. Add the cooked dal which was kept aside and give it one boil. Now the 'Saar' is ready for seasoning
4. For the seasoning, keep the bafat or chilli powder handy in a small round ladle. Heat some oil in a small pan and toss in the mustard, when it splutters add the crushed garlic and reduce the flame. Toss the garlic about till it turns pale brown and add the curry leaves and immediately add this mixture to the bafat powder - this way you can avoid the masala powder from burning. Add the entire seasoning to the 'Saar'. Turn off flame, toss in the coriander leaves, cover the vessel and serve hot with rice.




Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Meet Mirsang/Puli Munchi (Salt & Chilli Paste)

I am sure that whoever is fond of fish is undoubtedly fond of its fried form! It goes without saying that being a Mangalorean I love fish in any form - in a curry, fried, baked, grilled or steamed, but the fried variety wins hands down any day. It is a known fact that even people who have never eaten a lot of fish in their lives tend to prefer it fried than in a curry as the fried version invariably tones down the 'fishy' smell.

In Mangalore, we use a ready to use salt and chilli paste called the 'Meet Mirsang' which is very handy and can be made to use basic fish curries besides being used to marinate fish before frying. This paste was traditionally ground on a 'Gatno' (grinding stone/mortar & pestle made of granite stone) and scooped out with a dry 'katti' (coconut shell) as even the moisture from one's hand could render the paste useless when stored at room temperature. This also explains why vinegar is used to grind the paste which along with salt acts like a preservative.


During my childhood, the yummiest fish fry was always marinated in Meet Mirsang, it is only during the latter years of my time in Mangalore that out of sheer lack of time that we resorted to a quick fix of the marinade made of Bafat Powder, tamarind paste and salt. I continued that tradition (of using Bafat powder) for many years after getting married. I think I need to thank my blog for making me break out of my comfort zone and try out traditional recipes which are actually not as much of an effort (or rocket science) as I had thought earlier. 

When I was a child, we would have fried fish (fresh or dried) on Saturdays and more often during the Monsoons, I don't know the reason behind it, but it just seemed so perfect. We also had meal combos that just tasted heavenly. Like the vegetable gravy - Valchebaji ani Guley and Sardine Fry or Daliso Saar (Mangalorean Watery Dal/Lentils) and Mackerel Fry. Since the time I got married I have tried to maintain this custom and also love to have fried Mackerels with Kulta Kaat (Horsegram & Madras Cucumber Curry)

I am sure every family has their favourite combinations...if you have the same memories that I do, do let me know what your favourite combinations are...


The Meet Mirsang has definitely added that spark into our mealtimes as it makes fried fish ultra tasty and makes us pick out all edible parts of the fish and thoroughly enjoy the experience of having a meal with loved ones at home. Chatting and talking and helping ourselves to that extra spoon of boiled rice and curry or saar (recipe to follow) to accompany the pieces of fish waiting to be finished.


Picture above: Mackerels marinated in Meet Mirsang are sizzling on a hot 'kail' (frying pan)

For people who are hard pressed for time, it is best to make this paste in small batches and refrigerate it (if you are using water to grind). You can use it for a multitude of recipes including chicken and fish curries that call for a combination of the chillies, jeera and vinegar.

Meet Mirsang 
You Need:
  • 100 dry red chillies (Bedgi/Byadge - also known as Kumti Mirsang/Kundapur chillies)
  • 1 tsp cumin/jeera
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi powder
  • 8 tsp salt (increase it as per taste)
  • 12 tbsp vinegar (or about 150ml) *see note
Method:
Remove the stalk of the chillies and grind to a powder with the jeera and turmeric powder if you are using a dry mixer grinder. Add the salt & vinegar and grind to a fine paste. If you are using the traditional Mangalorean Gatno you can toss in all the above ingredients to grind to a fine paste. 

Note:
If you are using a mixer grinder to grind this masala, you will notice that the given quantity of vinegar will not be sufficient to achieve the paste consistency. Ideally Meet Mirsang is made with vinegar to grind the spices and hence may require as much as 500-750ml of vinegar. This helps the paste to remain fresh and for very long periods of time when stored even at room temperature.


Since I am not too fond of the vinegar and it's acrid smell, I use just about 11-12 tbsp and supplement the liquid requirement with boiled & cooled water - this of course means you cannot store the paste outside at room temperature as it will spoil fast so I make in small batches and refrigerate and use within 2-3 weeks at the most.

You can also substitute vinegar with tamarind paste and refrigerate it.