A 'song' for JFI Chillies

Konkani food by and large is spicy, but not fiery hot. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is a Kolhapuri 'tambda rassa' (red curry and that should tell you everything) or an Andhra pickle (needs no introduction), I'd rate it at 7. This is of course a blessing for a wuss like me but let's pretend you didn't read that.

We make up for this restraint in spice with color. Make that COLOR. Konkani curries (ghasshi, ambat, randayi etc.) are a deep, inviting sunset color. My most abiding memories in my mother's, aunt's or mother in law's kitchen is of them running a critical eye over the masala in the blender and deciding if the color is just right.


The secret? Byadgi or Bedgi chillies - these wrinkly, deep red chillies from Karnataka are supremely important to our cuisine. Roast them in oil and you get curries that look like this. In my own kitchen, depending on the dish or cuisine, I use Byadgi, Kashmiri (they are less spicy and have equally wonderful color) or Reshampatti chillies commonly found in the grocery stores here. See this excellent post by Deccanheffalump for photos.

Batata song, a dry preparation made with potatoes puts these chillies to good use. It is one heck of a spicy-tangy curry that will make your taste buds sing (bad humor I know!). So it's perfect for this month's JFI hosted by Nandita.


BATATA SONG (Spicy Potato Curry)
(serves 2-3)
3 potatoes, boiled and cubed
1 medium size onion, chopped
4-5 dry red chillies (more if you want smoke coming out of your ears!)
1 tsp tamarind paste
mustard seeds (optional)

Roast chillies in a little oil, then grind into a paste with tamarind and water*. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. When they pop, add onion. Saute on moderate till soft (not brown).

Add tamarind-chillli paste and potato cubes. Season to taste. Rinse blender with a little water and add to pan. Cook on low heat till the curry thickens. Cover and let sit for a few minutes before serving.

* I sometimes add a pinch of coriander seeds or a tablespoon of coconut to help grind the tamarind and chillies smoothly
* Use red chilli powder to save time



Back... and frying

First it was the sightseeing with my in laws, then the move to a new apartment, then a road trip... and well, blogging kept taking a back seat to it all. One good thing though, I realized I am not as obssessed with my itty bitty space on the web as I thought!

It's only after I received dire threats from my most avid readers (that would be my family) did I click on the 'New Post' button. The 'comeback' recipe is fried shrimp - nothing short of our favorite food could have coaxed me out my hibernation. Any form of fried seafood is considered a complete meal in my family, or at least an essential food group!

Back home when my mother fried shrimp for dinner, my brother and I would make her count each piece and place it on our plate. 4 for him, 4 for me. Of equal size too. I think we'd have measured them if we could!! What can I say? Fried shrimp is known to induce such extreme behaviour.


(4 for me, 3 for my husband!)
10-12 medium raw shrimp
1/4 tsp turmeric
3/4 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp ginger garlic paste (optional)
either coarse rice flour or semolina for dredging
oil to shallow fry

Devein shrimp, wash and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Add all seasoning and apply evenly to shrimp. No swishing around in a ziploc bag a la Food Network chefs please. Cover and let marinate for 5-10 minutes. Dredge each shrimp in rice flour or semolina so it's well coated. Shake off excess.

Heat your pan* on medium-low heat. Drizzle oil all over (not too much, you don't want oily sea food). Place shrimp on pan so they don't touch each other. Fry for 3-4 minutes until they become crisp. Turn over and fry on the other side. Add a little more oil if necessary. Remove on absorbent paper when done.

* I use my trusted cast iron griddle for frying. It gives me the same crispy, non oily texture that I grew up eating (everyone used cast iron in India until non stick picked up in the 80s). Cast iron retains heat better and distributes it evenly so you get great results every time. Besides the surface just gets better with use.
* Other options for frying - silver and black pomfret, head or tail on shrimp, bombay duck, kingfish, mackerel etc.



And now it's the Mumbai Mirror...

What part of "Do not copy or reproduce without permission" is difficult to understand?

Their article 'Food on the Edge' -

My post on Dabeli -