To market, to market - Kairas

Our neighbourhood supermarket can sometimes be a drag to shop in. The produce is maintained in artificial pristine condition, the only sound is of freezers humming and the only smell is that of a freshner. Pretty boring for an Indian used to the methodic chaos of a 'sabji mandi'. Luckily international food markets recreate a bit of that magic here. We visited one over the weekend; a cacophony of languages and accents greeted us as soon as we entered and we felt right at home!

Vegetables were stored in no visible order, just laid in gigantic pyramids so customers could pinch, knock, smell or even taste to their heart's content before they decided to pick something up. The aisles were categorized by country and I took my time strolling through each; passing jars of heady wasabi, spicy habaneros and exotic baharat to get to garam masala. Now this is how shopping should be!

I chanced upon some prized ingredients in this medley - unshelled peanuts and raw mangoes. Once we were back home I decided to use the peanuts first. Kairas is a tangy Konkani dish made with vegetables and peanuts. It is usually part of a religious feast since it doesn't contain onion, ginger or garlic. I made it with bell peppers but you can use anything from cauliflower to potatoes.
Those who are familiar with 'panchamrut' (literally, nectar made with five ingredients) will notice that the base of kairas is the same as panchamrut. The latter is usually a chutney without vegetables.


KAIRAS (Vegetable Peanut Curry)
(serves 2)
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 1/2 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp bengal gram (chana dal)
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi)
1-2 dry red chilli
3-4 tbsp coconut, grated
Roast the seeds, dal and chilli in half a teaspoon of oil. When they brown, remove and roast the coconut. Let cool, then put in a dry blender and grind to a fine powder.

2 green bell peppers, diced (make big pieces)
1 tsp mustard seeds
a handful of peanuts
3 tsp jaggery
a small ball of tamarind dissolved in 2 tbsp of water
a pinch of asafoetida (hing)
salt to taste
Heat a tablespoon of oil and when it's hot add mustard seeds. When they splutter add the peppers, peanuts and jaggery. Stir. Add the tamarind water, asafoetida and salt and mix well. Add a little more water for peppers to cook. Cook on low heat until they are almost tender. Finally add the coconut mixture, mix well and remove from heat. Serve hot with rotis or rice.
This curry is sweet and sour in taste. Vary tamarind-jaggery to suit your preference.



Blogger BDSN said...

Peanuts and vegetables...it is an amazing combo!! Wow!!but the peanuts are like pink in color..why so?? nice photo!!

3:39 PM  
Blogger Vineela said...

i do make curry with boiled peanuts.
i think konkani and andhra food mathes in some recipes.
Nice photo.

8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've moved to the right place! I would love to have an international market nearby. Given how international Boulder is, it's strange that something like this does not exist in our area.

I love kairas. It used to be a standard item at my aunt's at panchami or any other puja. Those polis look great, too! Did you make those, too? Droool!

9:12 PM  
Blogger RP said...

That sounds delicious.

9:51 PM  
Blogger Ashwini said...

BDSN - the peanuts are just the usual color. I think the sunlight kind of tinged them a bit :-)
Vineela - Really? Yes Konkani cuisine has a definite Southern influence so I am not surprised the dishes are similar.
Manisha - An international market is my fave place to shop in. I went to one in Chicago and now luckily have found one here too. You are introduced to such a variety of foods and produce. I actually found some Indian ingredients better here than the Indian store. I wish you had one in Boulder.
Thanks RP

10:11 PM  
Blogger sailu said...

That's a nice recipe,Ashwini.Lovely picture.

5:29 AM  
Blogger Lakshmi said...

I haven't tried any curry using whole peanuts. We use peanut powder in most of them.
nice photo Ashwini.

6:33 AM  
Blogger Shilpa said...

hi ashwini, even I was thinking about blogging about Kairas :). Your pic looks awesome.

8:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow! that international market sounds like a fun place to hang out!

nice recipe. I love peanuts and any vegetable when combined with peanuts can only improve in flavor!!!

fab picture!


9:31 AM  
Blogger Ashwini said...

Thanks Sailu, Shilpa & SH
Lakshmi - when the peanuts are boiled they completely change texture and taste. It's a tangy, nutty curry.

10:10 AM  
Blogger Ashwini said...

Thanks Sailu, Shilpa & SH
Lakshmi - when the peanuts are boiled they completely change texture and taste. It's a tangy, nutty curry.

10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks NICE!!!!!!....I love the color of the peanuts...

7:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmmm...ash, this is something new & nutty to try . Thanks for sharing!

3:30 AM  
Blogger reshma said...

Can't agree with you more on the monotonous nature of regular markets here, so quite so pristine, makes you want to grab something and move on. Enjoy your cacophonic international market!

10:20 AM  
Blogger Vaishali said...

Your Kairas sounds somewhat like the Panchamrut that we make. That, too, is traditionally a Pooja preparation, because it has no garlic or onion. I need to try out your version. Will let you know through one of my 'Patrols'.

8:39 AM  
Blogger Ashwini said...

Thanks Lera.
Reshma - I am glad you agree with me!
Vaishali - you are right. Kairas uses the same blend as panchamrut. Just imagine panchamrut in a curry with vegetables :-)
Let me know if you try this.

10:39 AM  
Blogger author said...

when you say konkani do you mean saraswat/karvari or maharashtra(konkan)? I ask because I am surprised I never heard or ate this dish off beign a saraswat!!...sounds good though....will give it a try.

7:35 PM  
Blogger Ashwini said...

Supriya - Its definitely not Malwani because my mother who is from the region didn't prepare it. I would say Saraswat from Karwar/ Ankola area, though I will confirm from my dad.

8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know much...but at my aunt's it was called kairas and panchamrut interchangeably. It's entirely possible that there were subtle differences between the two dishes and I never noticed. These folks are GSBs from Karwar and seem to have abandoned Konkani somewhere along the way.

3:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ashwini, I came across your blog today and absolutely loved it. Being pregnant and a konkani, I have been drooling over your recipes and pictures. Am a GSB whose folks are from mangalore and was born in mumbai. I have never heard of Kairas. But do know Panchamrut which is usually liquid form and we take that after the pooja in our palm like "teertha". I hope you understand what I am trying to say....I am too distracted with the thoughts of food!! :) Keep on writing.

7:03 PM  
Blogger Ashwini said...

Hi Rashmi - welcome to my blog and congratulations on the pregnancy :-)
It appears that kairas is not common among all GSB folks, though panchamrut is. I didnt know of it myself until I ate it at my cousin's house some years back.

7:20 PM  

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