Couple of years ago we had a friend of Aniruddha’s visiting us in India for a holiday. Originally from South Africa, Sean had moved to Australia, where he & Aniruddha worked at the same company.
This was his first trip to India and of course we wanted him to experience as much of Indian food as he could. But we wanted to ensure he wouldn’t be too affected by the spices so we finished every meal with some form of yoghurt followed by other digestives – saunf (fennel), hajmola, paan, etc. Sean was so amused by the number of digestive aids he ate he joked that the second half of the meal seemed to be to digest the first half!
Solkadi is one such digestive aid. Its made from a coastal fruit called kokum which from the outside looks quite similar to a mangosteen. The outer skin of the fruit is dried before being used for cooking. The dried fruit has an odd slightly fermented smell and it is soaked in water to extract the juice which is somewhere on the colour spectrum from deep purple to red.
The juice can be used as a souring agent in curries in place of tamarind juice. But my favourite preparation from kokum is solkadi – a refreshing drink made by mixing kokum extract with coconut milk, ginger, garlic, cumin, pepper, curry leaves and dried red chillies garnished with fresh coriander. Best had after a spicy meal!
Salmon is by far my favourite fish and my favourite way to eat Salmon is to cook it Japanese-style with a teriyaki sauce. Pink salmon is not a fish used in Indian cooking, and therefore I have never had it with Indian flavours.
So I decided to try and cook it with an Indian sauce and thought that saffron and coconut milk would compliment the fish well. Turns out they both did, but needed help from a little cumin and green chilli. I served the fish with some stir-fried winged bean salad, a vegetable I’ve eaten in Thai cuisine, and some fried garlic.
There is no dearth of chicken curries in Indian cuisine and while they may all look and taste the same for those not familiar with the cuisine, I can guarantee that this is not the case. I could go into the variations in spice mixtures, the marination, cooking techniques, etc. But let me focus on what I consider to be one of the better, if not best, of that vast pool of chicken curries. Kombdi Cha Rassa or Chicken curry is a Marathi preparation that is characterized by it’s fragrant smell and taste. It brings together a wonderful combination of dried red chillies, fresh coconut, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander seeds, green chillies and curry leaves in a thick tomato, onion and yoghurt gravy. You can have this with rice or chapatis but make sure to have a glass of mattha on hand to cool you down, as the gravy is also a bit spicy.
The best version I have tasted was at a restaurant in Mumbai called Sol Kadi, which shut down many years ago. They would serve the curry with vade (deep fried wheat and semolina bread) and koshimbir (vegetable and yoghurt salad). The version that I make at home is a result of trying out a couple of recipes and spice combinations to create what is now my favourite chicken curry. Priya
This is a recipe that I will guard with my life. My mom’s tomato saar has got to be one of the best examples of flavours coming together in harmony in a single glass. Tangy tomatoes, rich sweet coconut milk and the heat of green chillies balanced with cumin and curry leaves.