Today I discuss the core elements of Malvani cuisine. This cuisine hails from the western coast of India bordering Maharashtra. In my previous post I had touched the few basics of Malvani cuisine but this time it is going to be more detailed. It has its similarities from his cousin konkani cuisine but like every other cuisine in India it is distinct and has a flavour of its own.
Core elements of Malvani Cuisine:
- Coconut, coconut and more coconut : Owing to its proximity to the coastal belt you find an ample amount of coconut trees. It is used in fresh and desiccated form. The desiccated coconut is an integral part of Malvani Goda masala while the fresh coconut is ubiquitous in all Malavani Vataps. The coconut milk is used extensively to prepare the soul quenching solkadhi.
- Bedgi Mirchi or dried red chillies : They provide the distinctive red flavour and heat to all curries and preparations. It is soaked and ground to a fine paste to give a rich orange colour.
- Coriander seeds : They are sometimes roasted or ground with other spices to form a paste.
- Garlic : This is more prominently used over his cousin ginger to add the rich garlicky flavour.
- Garam masala : There is star anise, black and green cardamon, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon, bay leaves are integral part of Malvani masala.
- Tamarind or Chincha : This is used to add tart to the fish which is meant for frying and also in aloo vadi batter to provide the sweet sour taste.
- Kokum or garcinia : This pigment has a unique deep wine red colour and a nutty sour taste, which lends an excellent flavour to fish gravy and lentils, while it is a refreshment when added to drinks.
- Triphal or sichuan pepper : Is quite prevalent in regions in and around Goa and is known for its smoky and tongue numbing properties.
- Poppy Seeds
I can use all the following adjectives and adverbs to define the burst of flavours with one bit of Malvani cuisine. It is rich,fiery,smoky,earthy and highly flavoursome. One Malvani word to define all the mentioned words is jhanjhanit Owing to its proximity to the seaside, you will find crabs, prawns,surmai (king fish), pomfret, bangdra (mackerel), mandeli(sprats), mori (shark) and shimpli (clams) having a prominent place in the cuisine.
I am preparing the Malvani Pomfret Amti today and it is extremely delicious with piping hot rice and solkadhi. The recipe is done step by step exactly the way I have learnt this recipe from my mother-in-law. Kith and kin would wait for hours in anticipation for the finished products from her Malvani kitchen. There were several dishes which came out from her lovely treasure chest.I am glad at least someone carries her traditions forward.
- ½ cup freshly grated coconut
- 2-3 fired red chilli (traditionally bedgi)
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp rice grains
- 1 pomfret, gutted and cleaned
- 5-6 Kokum
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- 11/2 tsp dried Malvani Masala or any fish curry powder
- fresh coriander, finely chopped
- salt to taste
- 1 tbsp refined oil
- Soak all the ingredients of Vatap in 2 tbsp of water for 20 minutes.Then grind it in a food processor and prepare a fine and thick paste and set aside.This can be refrigerated and used upto one week.
- Heat oil in a skillet, fry the onions until it turns translucent.Then add 3 tbsp of the vatap and fry for 5 minutes until the oil separates.
- Then add the malvani masala and fry for another minute.
- Add the fish pieces into the gravy and add two cups of water. Salt to taste. Pomfret is easily cooked. Cook it for 6 minutes over medium heat. In the penultimate minute add the kokum and coriander leaves.
- Turn off the heat, cover and let the oil separate from the gravy.
- Serve hot with piping hot rice.