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rajsuman

Konkani Cuisine

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Hi folks,

Before I delve into the details of this little-known cuisine, I'd like to introduce myself. I feel really lucky to have come across this wonderful forum where everyone is passionate about the same thing as me - Indian food. My name is Suman Varadaraj and I live in Dublin, Ireland. I used to be the Indian Food Guide at About.com - the best part of my job was helping all those who wrote in with their queries to discover the wonderful world of Indian food. I've lived in Ghaziabad in U.P. (Have you heard of it Suvir?), Bombay, Mangalore, Bangalore and Dubai.

It might come as a big surprise :smile: , but I am, of course Konkani. We're a small community and yet it's amazing to see the variations in the cooking styles, depending on where we come from.

- My parents are from Mangalore, which is a coastal town down south in the state of Karnataka, famous for its wonderful seafood. We love our fish and our food is 'bold' in the sense that it makes liberal use of garlic.

- My husband comes from Bangalore and their food is more 'saathvik' - it leans towards the famous Udupi-style of cooking. They use very little garlic, if any and their food is purely vegetarian. They also tend to add a little jaggery to their side dishes.

- My maternal grandma's family was amongst the many Konkani families in Northern Kerala, they have some distinctive dishes not known to other Konkanis.

In general though Konkani food can be described as thus:

Ghashis: Coconut, chillies and tamarind ground with or without any additional ingredient and made into a sauce for fish, beans or even chicken. The baghaar or tadka also differs.

Sukke: Dry vegetable dish, again using coconut, chillies and tamarind with ingredients such as roasted or raw coriander, urad dal etc.

Upkari: A stir-fry of vegetables - in Mangalore they generally prefer it with a baghaar of mustard and red chillies , in Bangalore it's usually mustard, green chillies, curry leaves and grated coconut

Thalasani: Again, a stir -fry of vegetables, but with garlic and chillies.

Thoy/Kholombo: The former being Konkani-style toor dal, the latter being our version of the sambhar.

I could go on and on, but at the outset I hadn't even intended to write so much. I'd love to know if any of you have ever come across Konkani food or have tried to make it at home.

Thanks for making me feel welcome on this forum.

Suman

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I grew up in Delhi and so Ghaziabad is nothing if not familiar.

Thanks for this amazing post. And as BBhasin requests, I too must respectfully add to the request for some recipes. How lucky we all will be.

I had a friend in Bombay that was Konkani.... and the dishes he made were most amazing and yes I loved the addition of the extra garlic. I came from a home where garlic was sparingly,if at all used and so this was a wonderful exciting change for my palate.

Selfishly, it is my hope that you would share recipes and more posts with us. Thanks for finding eGullet. :smile:

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Hi Suman, welcome to our merry band!

We are more than excited to have you here and share with you the same joy and enthusiasm for this wonderful Konkani cuisine. Bombay as you know is dotted with Udipi Shettys who have a virtual monopoly on the manistay restaurants. There are lakhs of people who depend on them for daily sustenance. A complete Thali for Rs. 15 - 25, unbeatable!

It was only a decade and a half ago that some of them went upmarket and started offering Coastal Mangalorian/Malvani cuisine, which earlier had the custom of their own community members. Expectedly, it was seafood that thrust them into the lime light.

We will be much obliged if you could take us on a guided virtual tour of the south western coast.

Ghaziabad, Bombay, Mangalore, Bangalore, Dubai and now Dublin,Yelli hogtii yaa!


I fry by the heat of my pans. ~ Suresh Hinduja

http://www.gourmetindia.com

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Wow Episure! Do you know Kannada?

As for the recipes, yes I will definitely share some soon (because of my two small children, my 'soon' often means 'in a few days/weeks' :raz: ) Also, because I don't have recipes as such (same story as with many other Indian homes: I learnt cooking from my mum, so I just instinctively add the ingredients 'andaaze se'), I'll have to make the dish first, measure out stuff and then post the recipe here. So please bear with me....

And yes, I agree with an earlier post elsewhere: If you want to sample a wide range of excellent Indian food (even the home-cooked type) in a short space of time, go to Dubai. The food is often cheap and very authentic. I love the Sind Punjab samosas - I'm trying hard to recreate them at home, but they don't quite taste the same. I must try and bribe the samosewallah to part with his recipe. Can't wait to try the much-recommended Clay Oven when I go to Dubai in Jan.

BTW, has anyone ever asked for a recipe in a restaurant/eatery? I've never done it for the fear of being refused. I suppose I should try and be more thick-skinned. Please pass me any tips you have to get the recipe out of the chefs - have you offered them money etc.? I've heard about lots of cases on other forums where they just ask, but I haven't done it yet. And I do rescpect the chef's wish to maintain the secrecy, after all it's their livelihood. But then 'cracking the code' becomes a challenge to me and I keep trying and trying until I've come up with a similar result.

But I digress. I promise to post some recipes 'soon'. In the meantime here's a list of recipes on the net (I haven't tried any of them, so I can't vouch for their accuracy)

http://culture.konkani.com/Cuisine/

As you can see there are also some non-Konkani recipes included like pav bhaji, mango mousse, murgh mussallam etc.

Suman

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Wow Episure! Do you know Kannada?

I used to have a stewardess friend whose hometown was Gadag near Mangalore. She taught me some language and cuisine, I know enough phrases to get by in restaurants and get special service. :laugh:

She used to make the most amazing fried fish, it was simply marinated in red chilli powder, salt and lime juice. Then rolled in rava and fried, nothing else to it!

Many restaurants will part with recipes happily, ask for the chef, compliment him and then ask.


I fry by the heat of my pans. ~ Suresh Hinduja

http://www.gourmetindia.com

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Suman,

Checked out the link you had posted, it has this reciepe there listed as ' Chicken OH MY GOSH ' which sounds wonderful. I am going to try it this sunday. Does it have any tradional Konkani name??

thanks

Bhasin


Bombay Curry Company

3110 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305. 703. 836-6363

Delhi Club

Arlington, Virginia

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Hello Bhasin,

That recipe is not a Konkani recipe (as I said before, many recipes in the list are not konkani). I wonder if there are any traditional chicken recipes in Konkani cuisine? My grandma never cooked chicken and I don't remember ever eating a Konkani chicken dish. I must ask my Amma. However the Bunts (Tulu-speaking community) in Mangalore make some lovely chicken dishes - two of my favourite are kori ghashi and kori sookha. The ghashi is a curry they eat with a thin crisp wafer-like bread called kori - roti. It is a must-try! I'll post both chicken recipes soon.

Suman

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The recipe as promised:

Kori Ghashi

1 chicken, about 1 kg, cut into pieces

1½ coconut for milk

½ coconut, grated

15-20 red chillies

2 level tbsp. coriander seeds

1 level tsp cumin seeds

10 seeds fenugreek

1 tsp peppercorns

ghee for frying and tempering

3 onions, chopped

¼ tsp turmeric pdr

6 flakes of garlic

1 tsp butter

salt to taste

½ tsp garam masala

Extract thick and thin milk from the coconut (about 2 cups thick and 3 cups thin). I frequently used canned coconut milk instead.

Roast the grated coconut until brown.

Fry ingredients from red chillies to peppercorns in a little ghee. Fry separately 1 chopped onion until light brown. Grind the coconut, the spices and the onion with the turmeric and garlic to a very fine paste.

Combine the masala with the thin milk, chicken, 1 chopped onion, butter, salt to taste and cook until the chicken is done. Add the thick coconut milk, lemon juice and simmer for a few minutes.

Tempering: Fry the remaining chopped onion in ghee until brown. Add the garam masala powder and pour over the curry. Serve with roti, kori-roti, idli, dosas, appam or rice.

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two of my favourite are kori ghashi and kori sookha. The ghashi is a curry they eat with a thin crisp wafer-like bread called kori - roti. It is a must-try! I'll post both chicken recipes soon

Its an odd dish, the point of which seems to be the soggy texture that the koris (think quite hard snapping rice papads) take after you dump the chicken curry over it. You get it in some of the Udipi restaurants in Bombay if you ask them for it specially. Its usually not on the menu, but I think the workers cook it for themselves once a week.

Rajsuman, a question, how are you defining Konkani cuisine? Judging from the recipes you post you're mostly referring to Mangalorean style cooking, but isn't Konkani - since it has a geographical sense - a wider term? I would think it would cover any cooking on the Konkan coast from South Gujarat till south of Mangalore, after which point the Kerala influence becomes stronger?

If that's the case then it would cover quite a range of cooking styles, from East Indian near Bombay, Malvani (or Gomantak) further south on the Maharashtra coast, Goan (Christian and Hindu) and then Mangalorean, with possibly links to other styles like the Parsi ways of cooking fish from their settlements in south Gujarat, and all the variations of coastal Maharashtrian cooking - CKP, Saraswat, Pathare Prabhu, etc.

That's the sense with which Konkani is used in Ananda Solomon's excellent Konkan Cafe at the President Hotel. There are many similarities, of course, across these styles, like the use of coconut milk, kokam and the fish of course are mostly the same, but there are enough distinctions between areas for, I think, Konkani to be used more as an larger, catch-all term.

Any thoughts?

Vikram

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Vikram may be too modest to mention this, but he has written an excellent article about Konkani Cuisine for Outlook Traveller.  Take a look:

Moveable Feast: The Konkan Comeback

P.S. Vikram I hope you don't mind me posting this!

A very nice article -


anil

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Hello Vikram,

Nice article! Perhaps you should write a book on the subject (or recommend one that you know of). Yes indeed I meant the Mangalore/Udupi/Kerala style of cooking. Thanks for making the distinction. As for the other Tulu dish, EPisure, wouldn't it be great if we all had the recipe? :laugh:

Suman

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let me add a plug for my favorite cookbook in this category - Rasachandrika. it's more at the maharashtrian end of konkan food (the recipe names are often marathi rather than konkani, for example - and tend to use fresh rather than roasted coconut) but they are authentic and a good place to start.

looking forward to springing that kora chicken on some unsuspecting guests...

-anand


Dinner Diaries - It's what's for dinner!

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let me add a plug for my favorite cookbook in this category - Rasachandrika. it's more at the maharashtrian end of konkan food (the recipe names are often marathi rather than konkani, for example - and tend to use fresh rather than roasted coconut) but they are authentic and a good place to start.

Rasachandrika is excellent for all the Saraswat dishes. Its now exactly 60 years since the Saraswat Mahila Samaj (Saraswat Women's Association) in Mumbai first came out with it, and it is still a standard presence in every Saraswat kitchen, however stained and tattered with use it may be. I'd put it up there with Samaithu Par as one of the bases for Indian cookbook writing. What are the other such books that people would nominate in other regional Indian categories?

Vikram

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