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8 Gems of Malvani Cuisine

The relatively undiscovered palm fringed beaches, along the west coast of India, are home to many a picturesque fishing villages. The ribbon-like coastal Konkan belt is a haven of coconut plantations and seafood. Quite predictably, this area has some of the best seafood recipes of India. Tourists who have explored these coastal heavens confirm their affinity towards coconut laced curries with a punch. The cooking techniques, ingredients and recipes from here will come as a surprise to most people. The food compliments the vibe of the place and is all you need to enjoy the sun, sea and sand. We run you through some dishes that are quintessentially Malvani and do justice to the simple, home like cuisine from this region.

Whether you’re cooking at home or visiting a restaurant that boasts of authentic Malvani cuisne – you ought to know about these.

SolkadhiSomewhat like a cross between kadhi and buttermilk, solkadhi is an integral part of a Malvani meal. The rich creaminess of coconut milk is balanced with the tang from kokum petals and has a slightly spicy edge from green chillies. The beautiful pink colour of this digestive drink, is inviting enough to make you have the first sip, after which you won’t be counting the glasses.

Spicy curries- The highlight of the cuisine of this region are the two basic masala pastes that form the base for most of the dishes.  One is the Rasgoli mixture made from scraped fresh coconut and a variety of spices whereas the second is called a Bhajan mixture made of stronger spices with roasted coconut and onion. The former is used for fish curries and the latter for meat. Both the masala mixes can be used equally effectively for vegetarian recipes as well. A must try is a Malvani drumstick curry. Seafood lovers are again spoilt for choice with recipes like mori(shark) masala, tisrya (shell fish) in a green masala, gaboli or fish eggs in a spicy thick curry and soft shell crabs cooked in a coconut base!

ToiToi is a lentil preparation and is the Malvani version of dal. The flavours are really mild and bring out the taste of dal which is enhanced with dollops of toop (ghee). Thin and watery - much like a clear soup, toi is best eaten with boiled rice and a spicy accompaniment like a dried fish chutney, coconut chutney or a pickle.

Kombdi VadeKombdi vade is the non-vegetarians’ answer to puri bhaji. These deep fried pooris have a slight crunchiness because of the mix of ragi and wheat flour. Perfect to mop up the spicy Malvani chicken curry – its standard accompaniment. Vegetarians can devour the vades with a kala vatanyachi ussal.

Fried Seafood Fresh seafood is blessing to the people from the Malvan region. Mackerel, squids, pomfret, crabs, shellfish and prawns are all available in abundance. Marinated in a delicious masala (red or green), coated with rice flour and semolina and fried mostly in coconut oil, these fish recipes are classic Malvani. And there are few things better for a seafood lover than digging into perfectly cooked fried pieces of fish coated in a crisp flavorful covering. Make sure you add a good squeeze of lemon juice before you start devouring these lovelies.

Bombil FryYes, we have mentioned fried fish earlier, but bombil fry definitely deserves hallmark status when we talk about Malvani cuisine. Bombil fish or Bombay duck is unique to this region and has really soft, mushy flesh which contrasts the crispy flour coating it is covered with, perfectly. This deep fried delicacy is light on the stomach and doesn’t stretch your pocket. Fried Bombay duck will definitely have you hooked on from the first bite itself. Special mention, you can have a clean plate while eating Bombay duck as the bones are deliciously soft!

Breads Right from soft rice flour pancakes called amboli, to thin polis made with wheat flour and vades made with a mix of wheat and ragi flour - you are spoilt for choice in terms of breads in the Malvani cuisine. Easy to make and an absolute essential, these breads are perfect accompaniment to the spicy rassas, bharits and curries of the region.

DhondhasLike we mentioned earlier, food from the Malvan coast is different from elsewhere in the country, in terms of ingredients and cooking methods. Not everyone can come up with a delicious steamed sweet cake using cucumber and semolina. Dhondhas gets its wonderfully grainy texture because of the semolina and grated cucumber and sweetness with jaggery. You can also make a version of this almost forgotten in time recipe with jackfruit.

These are just a few fabulous recipes from the still unexplored treasure trove of Malvani cuisine. For several more such deliciously different distinctive recipes from this fabulous coastal region browse through SanjeevKapoor.com

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.