A coastal delight!

Malvani fish with amboliWhen I published my earlier post about being unwell and needing to change to a largely vegetarian diet, the last reaction I had expected was this…‘Vegetarian! Gaddar!!! (traitor)’. An extremely brief and to the point sms that Aniruddha received from a close friend. Can’t help but love it! ūüôā

So, to placate him and others who may be harbouring similar sentiments, here’s a coastal fish preparation I cooked for a potluck with my fellow food enthusiasts and cooks on the weekend –¬†Malvani Fish with Amboli (rice and lentil pancakes) and Hirvi (green) chutney.

The recipe I normally use for the Malvani fish is one that I’ve adapted after a couple of trials from The Essential Marathi Cookbook by Kaumudi Marathe. This book incidentally is a great read about the food from my community and contains¬†a treasure trove¬†of¬†recipes. The amboli recipe is the same as a regular idli or dosa recipe, just cooked a little differently. And the hirvi chutney, made from coriander and coconut, is my mother’s recipe. I have talked fondly about this chutney earlier on the blog:¬†The chutney I grew up with‚Ķ

This dish is a winning combination of flavours and textures. Soft, slightly sour rice pancakes dipped into a fiery yet light gravy and balanced with the refreshing taste of the coriander and coconut chutney! Unfortunately I couldn’t enjoy it myself but everyone at the potluck¬†seemed to have liked it a lot. ¬†And given most of them were non-Indians, I was pleasantly surprised that they could all handle the heat level, in spite of¬†my slightly generous hand with the chillies.

I’ve started¬†getting requests to share my recipes, so here are the recipes I use for the Malvani fish and Amboli! The only recipe I cannot¬†share is the green chutney, since that is a family secret ūüėČ

Priya

Malvani Fish (adapted from the Essential Marathi Cookbook by Kaumudi Marathe)

  • 500g fish – I used Bocourti fillets, but ideal would be Pomfret
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tbsp canola¬†oil
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tsp salt
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • 5-6 pieces of kokum
  • Spice paste (everything to be finely ground)
    • 6 small garlic cloves or 3 large ones
    • 1/4 inch piece of ginger
    • 1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
    • 8-9 black peppercorns
    • 3/4 cup freshly grated coconut
    • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
    • 9-10 red chillies (preferably Bedgi)

Malvani fish masala

Method:

Marinate the fish with salt and turmeric and keep aside for around 10-15 mins. Grind all the spice paste ingredients and keep aside. Heat oil and fry the onions for 3-4 mins. Add the spice paste and cook for another 3-4 mins. Add around 2 cups of water, curry leaves and the kokum and let the gravy cook for a good 10-12 mins on low heat. Add the coconut milk and sugar and stir well. Then add the marinated fish pieces and let them cook. Be careful not to overcook the fish. Adjust for salt and sugar as needed. Before serving garnish with chopped coriander.

Amboli (Rice and lentil pancakes)

  • 1 1/2 cups rice
  • 3/4 cup urad dal (black gram with the skin removed)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp methi seeds (fenugreek)

Method:

Wash the rice and urad dal well. In one bowl, soak the rice and fenugreek seeds, while in a separate bowl, soak the urad dal. Both need to be soaked for 7-8 hours.

After 7-8 hours, drain the water and wash the rice and urad dal gently. Then¬†grind them¬†separately with a little water. Make sure that both are finely ground and that there is no graininess in the batter. After grinding, mix the rice and urad dal in a bowl and add the salt. The batter should be thick and not runny. Stir well and leave to ferment for 12-13 hours or overnight. Once the batter is ready, heat a frying pan, brush a little oil on the base and then pour a ladleful of the batter. Spread it around gently to coat the pan, but don’t spread it too thin, as ambolis should be a little thick. Cover the pan and let one side of the amboli cook for 1/1.5 min. Then flip it over and let the other side cook for the same time. The above quantity will give you around 20 small pancakes¬†(4 inch) or alternately you can make bigger ones.

 

Home cooking with Mom – Patishapta (sweet rice pancakes with filling)

IMG_2697Bengalis have a saying that we have thirteen festivals for twelve months of the year (“Baro Mase Tero Parbon”) – implying that we barely need an excuse to celebrate. That probably also explains our healthy levels of food obsession and productivity! And festivals clearly meant¬†, which¬†invariably involves eating way more than we ought to.

One of my personal favourite festivals used to be Poush Sankranti that celebrates the harvest and the beginning of winter, and like all traditions around the world that celebrate food in sync with the seasons, it is celebrated with rice – since it is harvested then – and palm jaggery – that is produced only in that season. My grandmothers would then bring out the big guns to make the wonderful desserts with rice and jaggery, and the excellent vegetables in season in winter. My favourite dessert of these, was patishapta, or rice flour pancakes – with a filling of either coconut and jaggery, or sweet milk solid. The pancakes themselves are made with a combination of rice flour, wheat flour and semolina in a thin milk slurry, lightly pan fried and then rolled with the filling, almost like a soft, golden white cannoli.

I got my mother to teach me the pancakes with two kinds of filling – spiced coconut and jaggery,and sweetened milk solids. The pancakes like all such dishes I guess are a function of practice and my tenth pancake was better and smoother than the first, and the twentieth better than the tenth….and so on, you get the drift. Guess that’s why my¬†grand mothers, who were easily a thousand plus pancakes down in their lives, were so effortless and consistent.

I also made the jaggery filling version at our dinner party, that we served with a lovely raspberry coulis that Priya prepared. I also took down the semolina content in the pancake batter….the semolina is there to give the pancake structure, but makes it a bit heavy, so I preferred the lighter version, though I needed to be a bit gentler with the pancakes. All in, a good effort, and a version I made at home got a final brush of cointreau. The orange notes were great and when has the right use of alcohol ever hurt a dessert??

Aniruddha