I am going back to my roots today. When it comes to food, just saying that I am a Maharashtrian is not enough. It requires further drill down as to which part of Konkan am I bringing to the table – Goan cuisine, spicy Malwani, cuisine from Ratnagiri or from upper part of Konkan such as Raigad. India itself is such a large country that you can visit two places and find the same dish made differently in each one. Different place different taste!
This is part one of my series ‘Going back to my roots’. In this series I will take you through some delicacies that you get in Konkani households. My family is my biggest inspiration behind this series since it is because of them that I was first introduced to this sinful cuisine. I will focus mainly on dishes from Ratnagiri, Malwan and Goa.
Summer has already begun. Personally I prefer eating less spicy and oily during summer to generate as little heat in my body as possible. But that does not mean I have to eat bland or tasteless food. We have such variety of spices, herbs that can make your food intersting not only tastewise but also make it look appetising. One such dish is vatana and kakdi usal which looks hot and spicy but infact it is mildly spiced and goes perfectly well with steamed rice.
Time – 20 minutes (Soak vatana overnight)
Ingredients (Makes for 4)
1 cup soaked safed vatana (White dried peas)
2 small green Kakdi (green cucumber)
1 cup fresh grated coconut
2 tbsp dhane (Coriander seeds)
4 dried red chilis
1 1/2 tbsp tamarind pulp
1 1/2 tbsp chopped jaggery
2 tbsp oil for cooking
1 tsp rai (mustard seeds)
Pinch of hing (asafoetida)
salt to taste
Soak the vatanas overnight in enough water. Before cooking, add some salt to it and put in pressure cooker. Let the vatanas cook for about 3 whistles and sit in steam for additional 5 minutes.
In my version of this dish, cucumber is left partially cooked and crunchy. However if you prefer a smoother curry, cook the chopped cucumber with Vatana in pressure cooker.
In a dry pan, heat up dhane and red chili.
Tip- before using any dry spice, heating it up brings out the flavors and intensity.
Prepare the masala with grated coconut, coriander seeds and red chilis. Grind them to a fine paste in a mixer. Add as little water as possible.
Chop the cucumber into 1/2 inch pieces and keep aside. Heat 1 tbsp oil in pan. I prefer using coconut oil in almost all of the konkani dishes. It gives the dish a real coastal feel and it’s healthy too!
Once the oil is heated, add cucumber and fry till light golden. Let it further cook for 5 min, covered. Add the ground coconut-chili paste and fry for about 5 min. Add tamarind pulp, jaggery and about 1 cup water. Bring it to boil, season with salt and remove from heat.
In a small pan heat 1 tbsp oil and add mustard seeds. Once the seeds are tempered, our this mixture over the curry and cover it.
Serve hot with steamed rice.