Saturday, April 21, 2012

Chocolate Walnut Truffles To Celebrate 3 Years of Blogging and 300000 Page Views!

My blog is 3 years old today!! Yayyy! It's been quite a wonderful journey and I am glad that I have gone slow and steady and the number of readers has only picked up along the way. In these three years I have learnt so much about the world of cooking - food, the various ways it is prepared and the multitude of ingredients that go into making a particular dish so different from the next. I have made a good bunch of friends along the way - some of them are bloggers turned friends and many are readers turned friends. I am so blessed that this blog has helped open up a whole new world to someone who thought that being a stay at home mom was just a fancy word for 'housewife' (homemaker if you please). There is so much one can do staying at home and blogging is a big part of my today and hopefully will remain to be a significant part of my tomorrows as well.


I was never a great cook - I learnt from a million mistakes and still make plenty of them, but it is fun when you have someone as supportive as my DH (dear husband) who was also the main reason behind the creation of this blog and has been my one true fan and an immense source of undying support, motivation & encouragement. For all this & more, I thank you Ro! My thank you speech would be incomplete if I don't mention that little someone who has changed me as a person - from a woman to a mother and has grown along with the blog - just a year older - so he can call himself the blog's older brother. My little Yu who is also assistant chef in the Ruchik Randhap kitchen and in whom his parents have great faith that someday he will grow up to be a great chef or at least someone who is naturally inclined to cook a delicious meal and delight those who savour it. Thank you my darling!
Coming back to this recipe, this is something that I first tried during Christmas as it was a part of the Christmas hamper that I put together for our close family friends. Before I actually made the hamper I looked around for ideas for a simple yet delightful sweet. Something that didn't require a lot of cooking or slaving over and looked pretty and dainty too. Truffles it was - I had never tried my hand at making them before and the ingredients were simple and readily available in my pantry. However, the only thing that was tricky was to shape them as the weather outside was really hot and humid and I found that I couldn't work so well with the chocolate during the day. So I would recommend you to try shaping them in a fairly cool temperature.


By the way, originally  truffles are a kind of underground fungus that are oddly shaped much like potatoes. Often called the diamond of the culinary world, truffles are rare edible mushrooms considered to be a delicacy and are rather expensive. Since they grow underground, they are difficult to find and hence are usually harvested by wild trained hogs. But don't worry, since the original variety may be far out of our reach, we can satisfy ourselves with a host of truffles made out of chocolate. Chocolate truffles are very easy to make and will taste great if you use your favourite chocolate. They are suitable as desserts for a small party for adults or kids and can also be gifted for all kinds of occasions. Traditionally chocolate truffles are chocolate shaped into balls and rolled in cocoa powder but they can also be rolled in shredded coconut, confectioner's sugar or finely chopped nuts.


Chocolate Walnut Truffles
Preparation time: 15mins | Refrigeration: 3-4 hours | Makes 50 lime sized truffles

You Need:
  • 225gm bittersweet chocolate
  • 200 gm heavy cream
  • 60gm walnuts (or hazelnuts) toasted and chopped and sifted
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Method:
1. Chop the bittersweet chocolate and place it in a bowl. In a saucepan, bring the cream to boil on a slow heat. Pour it over the chocolate and allow to stand for a couple of minutes then stir gently to incorporate the hot cream so that all the chocolate has melted.
2. Add the chopped walnuts and allow to cool a bit.
3. Line a shallow tray or baking tin with parchment paper/foil and pour the prepared chocolate mixture on it and spread to achieve a uniform surface. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours if the weather outside is pleasant. The chocolate needs to be firm enough to be handled without melting.
4. Draw lines on the surface to form squares - this will enable you to make equal sized truffles. Scoop out each square and roll into a ball. Proceed to use up all the chocolate squares.
5. Refrigerate for another hour or so before rolling them into the cocoa powder. Ideally do this a little before you are ready to serve them
6. Place the truffles in dainty paper liners and enjoy!

Adapted from Purplefoodie

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Saunth Panak (Konkani Style Jaggery, Ginger & Pepper Drink)

It was the recipe challenge on one of the food groups on Facebook that compelled me to try out some beverages this week - so the next few posts will be some refreshing summer coolants that I am sure my readers will enjoy just as much as I did. One of the recipes posted by one of the members was this lovely drink that is typically made by the Konkani community and served especially in temples I heard. Its a lovely blend of the most natural ingredients that aim to keep the body cool and balance all the elements of the body. 

The list of ingredients is not too lengthy and one can find them in most homes - jaggery, pepper, ginger (dry or fresh), lime or lemon juice and water. There is no boiling involved and the drink tastes much better as it ages. It is so refreshing especially on a hot summer day and I am sure you can imagine how it will taste when you are just back from spending some time in the hot sun. The spiciness of the ginger and pepper is well balanced by the large amount of jaggery (unrefined whole cane sugar) that lends a natural sweetness to the drink and also adds to the health quotient. The lime juice adds a bit of zest to an otherwise sweet and spicy drink. 

Dry ginger powder is known as Sunth or Saunth in Konkani and since this particular version includes this ingredient it is known as Saunth Panak.


This summer, I hope to find many more such delightful recipes to make refreshing beverages at home - I hope that the next time I entertain guests at home I don't need to buy store bought drinks. Do try this at home and let me know how you liked it!

Saunth Panak (Konkani Style Jaggery, Ginger & Pepper Drink)
Recipe credit: Sundari Kamath
Preparation time: 2-3 mins | Serves 4

You Need:
  • 1 litre water (approx 5 cups)
  • 12 -13 tbsp (or to taste) jaggery
  • 1 tbsp crushed pepper
  • 1 tbsp dry ginger powder
  • 1/2 lime - juice extracted
Method:
Mix all the ingredients in a vessel. The jaggery will dissolve on its own. Refrigerate and strain before serving. Enjoy chilled!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bonda Sharbat With A Twist (Tender Coconut Sherbet)

Summer is here bringing with it all the goodies - especially seasonal fruits and everything that you can concoct with them. I've been chilling out this summer and although the rising temperatures are killing, the fact that my apartment is perched on one of the higher floors of my building and a cross ventilation in my living room makes for a huge blessing. I am glad I don't have to step out into the scorching heat a lot - unless I go to pick my little one from school. In the evenings the two of us love watching the sunset and enjoy the cool breeze as we go about doing our evening chores. Our? Oh yes, I am training the fellow with some petty work around the house so he can grow up to make himself useful to everyone around him (especially his wife! Do I hear her blessing me already? Hehe!). It's good to have a handy man in the house. Isn't it?


A lot of fruits have made their appearance in the fruit basket on my dining table. Pomegranates, mangoes and apples have been the season's favourites in my house at least. But what tops the list is our very own South Indian tender coconut. Having grown up in an orchard full of coconut trees I've always had the good fortune of tasting the sweet waters of the tender coconuts especially during summer. Since my family used to sell coconuts  to whoever wished to buy in the neighbourhood, coconuts were harvested/plucked during particular intervals and the coconut plucker - a robust man wearing a lungi (traditional male attire in most of South India) draped in the form of a kaccha, a head turban called mundaas and a sickle tucked safely around his waist would be hired for the day. He would then climb the tree in a few swift moves with the help of a small ring of rope twisted between his feet that provided the grip to scale the height of the rather tall coconut trees. This was a risky job as coconut trees do not have branches and unless one is sure footed, a fall culminating in death or severe & permanent injuries is guaranteed. The programme of plucking coconuts would usually last a whole day in our orchard as we had a few million trees to be tackled and the kids were usually given the job of fetching the coconuts & dried palms and dumping them in the store room. 


Today's recipe is a quintessential Mangalorean drink called Bonda Sharbat which I have modified based on the recipe I saw on this here. Bonda (pronounced as Bonnda in the local languages) Sharbat that I have savoured and greatly loved is the one that was available near Platinum Theatre near Athena Hospital, Mangalore. It was available in a small shop which was in the basement of a complex and chilled glasses of sherbet were handed out to customers which we downed in no time. I used to frequent this place along with my colleagues when I was working in Sales in a bank in Mangalore and it was one of the most refreshing drinks that I can ever remember having - besides the quintessential Mangalorean kabbina rasa (sugarcane juice). Do try it with the addition of lime juice and basil seeds as per the recipe below. Enjoy!


Bonda Sharbat (Tender Coconut Sherbet)
Preparation time: 5 mins | Serves 2-3

You Need:
  • 2 tender coconuts
  • 1 tsp lime juice * see note
  • 4-5 mint leaves shredded
  • 1/2 tsp basil seeds (sabka/tukmaria) soaked in 2 tbsp water
  • 4-6 tsp sugar (adjust according to taste or depending on the sweetness of the coconut water) *see notes
  • a pinch of salt
Method:

1. Pour out the tender coconut water and scrape out the flesh (malai) into a vessel. Shred the coconut flesh if it is thick and mix it along with the water.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir and refrigerate for at least an hour. Chill before serving - use a lime wedge to decorate the glass

Notes:
1. The sherbet may taste odd at room temperature so you can skip the lime juice, but trust me it tastes awesome when consumed chilled.
2. If you are health conscious or obtain very sweet tender coconut water you may skip the sugar altogether. If the water tastes bland or is not very sweet you can skip the pinch of salt as well.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Kube Ani Boblyachi Khodi (Clams & Bottle Gourd Curry)

It's been a blessed Lent so far. Although we haven't given up meat or fish this Lenten season, I have completely given up two things that I most passionately love - biryanis and baking. And I must add another B - blogging - which has also taken a back seat because of another B - backpain! But its nice to come crawling back to the blog every week or so. I enjoy the comments that you have been leaving and thank you for the calls, emails and messages on FB just to check on me - truly appreciate the concern & love. {{hugs}}


So how has your weekend been? And the one before? Exactly a week from today we will celebrate Easter - the resurrection of Lord Jesus. Lent has flow by so quickly and more importantly, the first quarter of this year has also flown by in the blink of an eye. I am glad that I have achieved a lot of things that I had chalked out for myself - creating 'me-time' on a daily basis was on my agenda. The 'me-time' that would help me do the two things I love - watching movies that I have collected over the past few years & have never found the peace and quiet to actually watch them from start to finish in one go (been watching movies in installments ever since the son was born) and reading books that has taken a backseat too as all I have managed to read  in the past 2-3 years are short stories, newspapers or magazines. I have also been spending a lot of time with my family and getting things done at home so yeah, a happy mother is now more than happy to return to some blogging.

Today's dish was quite an unusual combination for us too when I first came across this recipe in a book. I wasn't quite sure of the outcome, but thought of giving it a try nevertheless. I am sure when you read the title of this post you may have gone "eh??" - just like I did. I totally love Mangalorean combo curries which make up for a complete meal and you don't have to slave over another couple of side dishes. I have eaten combo curries made of clams & Malabar Spinach or or clams and rice dumplings, but this was new to me. I am not such a big fan of the bottle gourd but this humble vegetable never fails to surprise me as it shines through the most unusual dishes. Not too long ago I sneaked the bottle gourd into a nice chocolate cake and the result was simple awesome! Do check the recipe here


I have grown up eating the bottle gourd only in two forms - sweet (bottle gourd halva) & savoury (as a side dish in the famous Thel Piao - oil & onion style) so it was definitely a delightful experience to be able to enjoy it with clams too. Enjoy this curry with some piping hot rice and some mango pickle on the side if you wish. This recipe is a keeper for all clam lovers like me!

Kube Ani Boblyachi Khodi (Clams & Bottle Gourd Curry)
Preparation time: 15mins | Cooking time: 20mins | Serves: 3-4

You Need:
  • 80-100 clams / cockles / shell fish
  • 500gm bottle gourd / boblem / sorekai / dhoodhi / lauki
  • salt to taste
For the masala
  • 6 long dry red chillies
  • 4 peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 medium sized onion
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 level tsp tamarind paste or 1 marble size ball of tamarind
  • 1/2 a coconut (or 1 cup grated coconut)
  • salt to taste
For the seasoning
  • 1 medium size onion finely sliced for frying
  • 1 sprig (6-7 leaves) curry leaves/kadipatta
  • 1 tbsp ghee or oil 
Method:
1. Wash the clams in plenty of water and in order to reduce the quantity and clutter in the pan, cut each clam open and retain the shell which has the flesh. Discard the other. *See notes
2. Wash the bottle gourd well and cut into small cubes. Do not peel the skin.
3. Using a little water grind all the ingredients mentioned in 'For the masala'  to a fine paste. Retain the masala water from the mixer grinder.
4. Heat some ghee in a pan and toss in the curry leaves and sliced onions and fry until the onions turn golden. Add the ground masala and fry on a slow flame for 4-5 minutes. Stir to avoid burning. Add the masala water that was retained and a little extra to achieve the desired consistency of the gravy and bring it to a boil.
5. Add the bottle gourd pieces, mix and cook covered on a medium flame till the bottle gourd is almost tender.
6. Add the clams and bring the curry to a boil, check salt, reduce the flame and cook on a medium high flame till the bottle gourd and the clams are cooked. *See notes
7. Serve hot with rice

Notes:
1. If you are in Mumbai, then it is important to open the clams, clean them and pre boil them. This is because most clams are filled with sand or dirt. You can place the clams in a steel bowl and place the bowl in the deep freezer for 30-45mins. Remove and pour room temperature water on them and keep aside. They will open up on their own after which you can rinse thoroughly and discard the empty shell from each clam.
2. If you pre cook the clams then you can add them at the very end of the process - after the bottle gourd pieces have cooked.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Chocolate Walnut Truffles To Celebrate 3 Years of Blogging and 300000 Page Views!

My blog is 3 years old today!! Yayyy! It's been quite a wonderful journey and I am glad that I have gone slow and steady and the number of readers has only picked up along the way. In these three years I have learnt so much about the world of cooking - food, the various ways it is prepared and the multitude of ingredients that go into making a particular dish so different from the next. I have made a good bunch of friends along the way - some of them are bloggers turned friends and many are readers turned friends. I am so blessed that this blog has helped open up a whole new world to someone who thought that being a stay at home mom was just a fancy word for 'housewife' (homemaker if you please). There is so much one can do staying at home and blogging is a big part of my today and hopefully will remain to be a significant part of my tomorrows as well.


I was never a great cook - I learnt from a million mistakes and still make plenty of them, but it is fun when you have someone as supportive as my DH (dear husband) who was also the main reason behind the creation of this blog and has been my one true fan and an immense source of undying support, motivation & encouragement. For all this & more, I thank you Ro! My thank you speech would be incomplete if I don't mention that little someone who has changed me as a person - from a woman to a mother and has grown along with the blog - just a year older - so he can call himself the blog's older brother. My little Yu who is also assistant chef in the Ruchik Randhap kitchen and in whom his parents have great faith that someday he will grow up to be a great chef or at least someone who is naturally inclined to cook a delicious meal and delight those who savour it. Thank you my darling!
Coming back to this recipe, this is something that I first tried during Christmas as it was a part of the Christmas hamper that I put together for our close family friends. Before I actually made the hamper I looked around for ideas for a simple yet delightful sweet. Something that didn't require a lot of cooking or slaving over and looked pretty and dainty too. Truffles it was - I had never tried my hand at making them before and the ingredients were simple and readily available in my pantry. However, the only thing that was tricky was to shape them as the weather outside was really hot and humid and I found that I couldn't work so well with the chocolate during the day. So I would recommend you to try shaping them in a fairly cool temperature.


By the way, originally  truffles are a kind of underground fungus that are oddly shaped much like potatoes. Often called the diamond of the culinary world, truffles are rare edible mushrooms considered to be a delicacy and are rather expensive. Since they grow underground, they are difficult to find and hence are usually harvested by wild trained hogs. But don't worry, since the original variety may be far out of our reach, we can satisfy ourselves with a host of truffles made out of chocolate. Chocolate truffles are very easy to make and will taste great if you use your favourite chocolate. They are suitable as desserts for a small party for adults or kids and can also be gifted for all kinds of occasions. Traditionally chocolate truffles are chocolate shaped into balls and rolled in cocoa powder but they can also be rolled in shredded coconut, confectioner's sugar or finely chopped nuts.


Chocolate Walnut Truffles
Preparation time: 15mins | Refrigeration: 3-4 hours | Makes 50 lime sized truffles

You Need:
  • 225gm bittersweet chocolate
  • 200 gm heavy cream
  • 60gm walnuts (or hazelnuts) toasted and chopped and sifted
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Method:
1. Chop the bittersweet chocolate and place it in a bowl. In a saucepan, bring the cream to boil on a slow heat. Pour it over the chocolate and allow to stand for a couple of minutes then stir gently to incorporate the hot cream so that all the chocolate has melted.
2. Add the chopped walnuts and allow to cool a bit.
3. Line a shallow tray or baking tin with parchment paper/foil and pour the prepared chocolate mixture on it and spread to achieve a uniform surface. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours if the weather outside is pleasant. The chocolate needs to be firm enough to be handled without melting.
4. Draw lines on the surface to form squares - this will enable you to make equal sized truffles. Scoop out each square and roll into a ball. Proceed to use up all the chocolate squares.
5. Refrigerate for another hour or so before rolling them into the cocoa powder. Ideally do this a little before you are ready to serve them
6. Place the truffles in dainty paper liners and enjoy!

Adapted from Purplefoodie

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Saunth Panak (Konkani Style Jaggery, Ginger & Pepper Drink)

It was the recipe challenge on one of the food groups on Facebook that compelled me to try out some beverages this week - so the next few posts will be some refreshing summer coolants that I am sure my readers will enjoy just as much as I did. One of the recipes posted by one of the members was this lovely drink that is typically made by the Konkani community and served especially in temples I heard. Its a lovely blend of the most natural ingredients that aim to keep the body cool and balance all the elements of the body. 

The list of ingredients is not too lengthy and one can find them in most homes - jaggery, pepper, ginger (dry or fresh), lime or lemon juice and water. There is no boiling involved and the drink tastes much better as it ages. It is so refreshing especially on a hot summer day and I am sure you can imagine how it will taste when you are just back from spending some time in the hot sun. The spiciness of the ginger and pepper is well balanced by the large amount of jaggery (unrefined whole cane sugar) that lends a natural sweetness to the drink and also adds to the health quotient. The lime juice adds a bit of zest to an otherwise sweet and spicy drink. 

Dry ginger powder is known as Sunth or Saunth in Konkani and since this particular version includes this ingredient it is known as Saunth Panak.


This summer, I hope to find many more such delightful recipes to make refreshing beverages at home - I hope that the next time I entertain guests at home I don't need to buy store bought drinks. Do try this at home and let me know how you liked it!

Saunth Panak (Konkani Style Jaggery, Ginger & Pepper Drink)
Recipe credit: Sundari Kamath
Preparation time: 2-3 mins | Serves 4

You Need:
  • 1 litre water (approx 5 cups)
  • 12 -13 tbsp (or to taste) jaggery
  • 1 tbsp crushed pepper
  • 1 tbsp dry ginger powder
  • 1/2 lime - juice extracted
Method:
Mix all the ingredients in a vessel. The jaggery will dissolve on its own. Refrigerate and strain before serving. Enjoy chilled!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bonda Sharbat With A Twist (Tender Coconut Sherbet)

Summer is here bringing with it all the goodies - especially seasonal fruits and everything that you can concoct with them. I've been chilling out this summer and although the rising temperatures are killing, the fact that my apartment is perched on one of the higher floors of my building and a cross ventilation in my living room makes for a huge blessing. I am glad I don't have to step out into the scorching heat a lot - unless I go to pick my little one from school. In the evenings the two of us love watching the sunset and enjoy the cool breeze as we go about doing our evening chores. Our? Oh yes, I am training the fellow with some petty work around the house so he can grow up to make himself useful to everyone around him (especially his wife! Do I hear her blessing me already? Hehe!). It's good to have a handy man in the house. Isn't it?


A lot of fruits have made their appearance in the fruit basket on my dining table. Pomegranates, mangoes and apples have been the season's favourites in my house at least. But what tops the list is our very own South Indian tender coconut. Having grown up in an orchard full of coconut trees I've always had the good fortune of tasting the sweet waters of the tender coconuts especially during summer. Since my family used to sell coconuts  to whoever wished to buy in the neighbourhood, coconuts were harvested/plucked during particular intervals and the coconut plucker - a robust man wearing a lungi (traditional male attire in most of South India) draped in the form of a kaccha, a head turban called mundaas and a sickle tucked safely around his waist would be hired for the day. He would then climb the tree in a few swift moves with the help of a small ring of rope twisted between his feet that provided the grip to scale the height of the rather tall coconut trees. This was a risky job as coconut trees do not have branches and unless one is sure footed, a fall culminating in death or severe & permanent injuries is guaranteed. The programme of plucking coconuts would usually last a whole day in our orchard as we had a few million trees to be tackled and the kids were usually given the job of fetching the coconuts & dried palms and dumping them in the store room. 


Today's recipe is a quintessential Mangalorean drink called Bonda Sharbat which I have modified based on the recipe I saw on this here. Bonda (pronounced as Bonnda in the local languages) Sharbat that I have savoured and greatly loved is the one that was available near Platinum Theatre near Athena Hospital, Mangalore. It was available in a small shop which was in the basement of a complex and chilled glasses of sherbet were handed out to customers which we downed in no time. I used to frequent this place along with my colleagues when I was working in Sales in a bank in Mangalore and it was one of the most refreshing drinks that I can ever remember having - besides the quintessential Mangalorean kabbina rasa (sugarcane juice). Do try it with the addition of lime juice and basil seeds as per the recipe below. Enjoy!


Bonda Sharbat (Tender Coconut Sherbet)
Preparation time: 5 mins | Serves 2-3

You Need:
  • 2 tender coconuts
  • 1 tsp lime juice * see note
  • 4-5 mint leaves shredded
  • 1/2 tsp basil seeds (sabka/tukmaria) soaked in 2 tbsp water
  • 4-6 tsp sugar (adjust according to taste or depending on the sweetness of the coconut water) *see notes
  • a pinch of salt
Method:

1. Pour out the tender coconut water and scrape out the flesh (malai) into a vessel. Shred the coconut flesh if it is thick and mix it along with the water.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir and refrigerate for at least an hour. Chill before serving - use a lime wedge to decorate the glass

Notes:
1. The sherbet may taste odd at room temperature so you can skip the lime juice, but trust me it tastes awesome when consumed chilled.
2. If you are health conscious or obtain very sweet tender coconut water you may skip the sugar altogether. If the water tastes bland or is not very sweet you can skip the pinch of salt as well.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Kube Ani Boblyachi Khodi (Clams & Bottle Gourd Curry)

It's been a blessed Lent so far. Although we haven't given up meat or fish this Lenten season, I have completely given up two things that I most passionately love - biryanis and baking. And I must add another B - blogging - which has also taken a back seat because of another B - backpain! But its nice to come crawling back to the blog every week or so. I enjoy the comments that you have been leaving and thank you for the calls, emails and messages on FB just to check on me - truly appreciate the concern & love. {{hugs}}


So how has your weekend been? And the one before? Exactly a week from today we will celebrate Easter - the resurrection of Lord Jesus. Lent has flow by so quickly and more importantly, the first quarter of this year has also flown by in the blink of an eye. I am glad that I have achieved a lot of things that I had chalked out for myself - creating 'me-time' on a daily basis was on my agenda. The 'me-time' that would help me do the two things I love - watching movies that I have collected over the past few years & have never found the peace and quiet to actually watch them from start to finish in one go (been watching movies in installments ever since the son was born) and reading books that has taken a backseat too as all I have managed to read  in the past 2-3 years are short stories, newspapers or magazines. I have also been spending a lot of time with my family and getting things done at home so yeah, a happy mother is now more than happy to return to some blogging.

Today's dish was quite an unusual combination for us too when I first came across this recipe in a book. I wasn't quite sure of the outcome, but thought of giving it a try nevertheless. I am sure when you read the title of this post you may have gone "eh??" - just like I did. I totally love Mangalorean combo curries which make up for a complete meal and you don't have to slave over another couple of side dishes. I have eaten combo curries made of clams & Malabar Spinach or or clams and rice dumplings, but this was new to me. I am not such a big fan of the bottle gourd but this humble vegetable never fails to surprise me as it shines through the most unusual dishes. Not too long ago I sneaked the bottle gourd into a nice chocolate cake and the result was simple awesome! Do check the recipe here


I have grown up eating the bottle gourd only in two forms - sweet (bottle gourd halva) & savoury (as a side dish in the famous Thel Piao - oil & onion style) so it was definitely a delightful experience to be able to enjoy it with clams too. Enjoy this curry with some piping hot rice and some mango pickle on the side if you wish. This recipe is a keeper for all clam lovers like me!

Kube Ani Boblyachi Khodi (Clams & Bottle Gourd Curry)
Preparation time: 15mins | Cooking time: 20mins | Serves: 3-4

You Need:
  • 80-100 clams / cockles / shell fish
  • 500gm bottle gourd / boblem / sorekai / dhoodhi / lauki
  • salt to taste
For the masala
  • 6 long dry red chillies
  • 4 peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 medium sized onion
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 level tsp tamarind paste or 1 marble size ball of tamarind
  • 1/2 a coconut (or 1 cup grated coconut)
  • salt to taste
For the seasoning
  • 1 medium size onion finely sliced for frying
  • 1 sprig (6-7 leaves) curry leaves/kadipatta
  • 1 tbsp ghee or oil 
Method:
1. Wash the clams in plenty of water and in order to reduce the quantity and clutter in the pan, cut each clam open and retain the shell which has the flesh. Discard the other. *See notes
2. Wash the bottle gourd well and cut into small cubes. Do not peel the skin.
3. Using a little water grind all the ingredients mentioned in 'For the masala'  to a fine paste. Retain the masala water from the mixer grinder.
4. Heat some ghee in a pan and toss in the curry leaves and sliced onions and fry until the onions turn golden. Add the ground masala and fry on a slow flame for 4-5 minutes. Stir to avoid burning. Add the masala water that was retained and a little extra to achieve the desired consistency of the gravy and bring it to a boil.
5. Add the bottle gourd pieces, mix and cook covered on a medium flame till the bottle gourd is almost tender.
6. Add the clams and bring the curry to a boil, check salt, reduce the flame and cook on a medium high flame till the bottle gourd and the clams are cooked. *See notes
7. Serve hot with rice

Notes:
1. If you are in Mumbai, then it is important to open the clams, clean them and pre boil them. This is because most clams are filled with sand or dirt. You can place the clams in a steel bowl and place the bowl in the deep freezer for 30-45mins. Remove and pour room temperature water on them and keep aside. They will open up on their own after which you can rinse thoroughly and discard the empty shell from each clam.
2. If you pre cook the clams then you can add them at the very end of the process - after the bottle gourd pieces have cooked.