Maharashtra is one of the richest and most populist states in India. Though most of its population is Hindu (descendant Marathas), it has a healthy population of people of other religions. It has the biggest population of Parsees and their culture is seen quite clearly in all the big cities of the state. Despite meeting two good Parsee friends I could not learn their cooking which was unfortunate, but a reason for me to visit that part of the country.
To learn about the cooking style of Maharashtra I chose Malvan, a Sea side town on the West Coast and the Historical City of Aurangabad in the heart of Maharashtra. Malvan is not on most people’s of wish list though, should be, as I was informed by a British coupe who were staying at the same resort as I did. We were staying in Tarkali which is a small fishing village just south of Malvan. It reminded me of Goa at the time of its independence in 1960's. It had several, what essentially are Bed & Breakfast however, local people call these as Home Stay. Malvan boasts a water bound Sindhudurg fort besides the many lovely beaches. As expected the local people are either Vegetarian or eat Fish (which come in plentiful each morning at its many beaches). Their style of cooking is basically Konkan, though locals in Malvan corrected me that Malvan food is different to Konkani food. They tend to eat their Fish Curry very hot and use Kokum to give the Fish curry its distinctive sour taste and the bright red colour. Unfortunately, it is not available easily in the rest of the country so I have used Tamarind, which gives a similar taste but not its bright red colour.
- Pick a fish of your choice (preferably Pomfret)
- Close to 3 dry red chillies
- 2 cups of coconut milk
- 1 big Onion of finely chopped
- 1 cup of desiccated dry coconut
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 3-4 Garlic roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp tamarind pulp
- 2 tbsp Ghee/Oil
- Heat the dry roast red chillies, peppercorns and turmeric in a wok on low heat till the ingredients become fragrant, put out the flame and leave it for cooling.
- When the ingredients cool down grind these in a mixer along with desiccated coconut, tamarind pulp, garlic and some water to get a smooth paste.
- Heat oil/ghee in a wok on medium flame and fry onions till they turn soft and translucent.
- Add the paste to the onions and fry till you see the oil separates from the masala.
- Add the coconut milk and bring the curry to a boil.
- Reduce the flame and add the fish pieces to the gravy and cook for around 8-10 minutes. Make sure you don’t overcook the fish.