The closest encounter I have had with Mangalorean cuisine was at the Udupi restaurants in the city of Mumbai. But, about two weeks ago I realized the intricacy of this gastronomy at a dinner hosted by Mrs. Prabha Kini, a home chef who welcomes people at her residence to enjoy her traditional meals. She hails from the Gaud Saraswat Brahmin (GSB) community of Mangalore which is one of the six communities contributing to the Mangalorean culinary legacy. The other five she mentions are cuisines of Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins, Udupis, Tuluvas, Mangalorean Catholics and the Beary Muslims.
In this article I am delving in detail in Mrs. Kini's meal that comprised of traditional GSB preparations including Mangalore buns, Phanna Upkari, Chitraana with the exception the Ghee Roast, a Tuluva specialty. GSB's are a Brahmin community that consumes non-vegetarian fare only in the form of seafood and this meal was a reflection of the same.
CHICKEN GHEE ROAST
This is the most revered preparation in the Tuluva Mangalorean cuisine hailing from the Kundapur region. A bite into Mrs. Prabha Kini's chicken ghee roast and one begins the understand the reason for this reverence. The marination of the meat, in this case bone-in chicken sans the skin, was done in a dry roasted mix of Bedagi chillies, cumin, fennel, coriander seeds ground with tamarind and garlic. The chicken along with its marinade was stir fried in dollops of ghee (clarified butter) to yield this piquant and buttery Mangalorean delicacy.
These are the famed flour fritters in the GSB cuisine. These are produced from a mix of maida (refined flour) and besan (Bengal gram flour) flavoured with ginger paste, green chillies, curd, salt and scraped coconut. The batter is spiked with cooking soda just before making spheres out of it and deep frying. Served piping hot, these fritters were pure bliss to indulge in.
Seafood forms an intrinsic part of the GSB diet in Mangalore and hence two very different, delectable prawn preparations as under formed part of the meal:
SUNGTA PHANNA UPKARI
This was a simple yet toothsome onion based prawn curry devoid of coconut. Onions were fried till brown and pureed. A tempering of curry leaves was carried out prior to addition of this puree. Flavours were introduced by way of addition of tamarind pulp, red chillies powder and salt. Then, the prized ingredient, prawns were added to arrive at the final spicy dish.
SUNGTA HINGA UDDA
This was a flavourful, delicate, coconut-based prawn curry with a prominent flavour of hing (asafetida). A thin puree of scraped coconut, roasted dry red chillies was mixed with tamarind pulp and brought to a boil. Then, prawns, hing and coconut oil were added and simmered till the prawns were cooked. The highlight of the preparation was the sweetness of prawns and coconut balancing out the intense flavour of the hing perfectly.
These are fluffy puris (deep fried, flat bread) in the GSB diet made from a dough of maida (refined flour), sugar & bananas. Their mild sweet taste is the reason for them being paired with a fiery ghee roast dish or spicy seafood curries. Indeed they proved the perfect accompaniment with piquant dishes mentioned above and made the meal delicious.
This dish has fed numerous generations of the Kini family. This heirloom recipe entails rice, that is cooked separately and then tempered with curry leaves, mustard seeds and puddi or a spice mix comprising of roasted coriander seeds, cumin seeds and Bengal gram. The flavours are simple yet do not fail to impress the palate.
Learn it from GSBs to combine papads with salad! Red chilli & urad dal (split black lentils) poppadums were roasted and crushed. Then, they were mixed with onion, green coriander, scraped coconut and drizzled with coconut oil to arrive at this exceptional side dish or salad one may say.
These were assorted homemade pickles. The guests were served three distinct nonche unlike those of mango and lemon usually served during most Indian meals. One was Ambe Halad or fresh turmeric pickle with a strong flavour of mustard oil. Another one was Amla Puddi Nonche that was the amla or Indian gooseberry pickle where the South Indian spice mix puddi was tempered in coconut oil before being added to amla slices. The third one was Mirsaang Nonche or green chilli pickle flavoured with ground mustard and lemon juice.
This was the quintessential garlic & cumin infused buttermilk that acted as a cooler for the hot summer evening.
This was a sweet treat somewhat similar to sevaiyan kheer. Vermicelli was roasted in ghee before being simmered in milk with cardamom, powder, sugar and dry fruits. The dish was light and paved the way for a befitting end to the scrumptious meal.
I cannot wait to indulge in Mangalore buns again and also explore Mangalorean food more deeply. You can get more information regarding the meals Mrs. Prabha Kini will be holding on https://www.authenticook.com/.
Till then, HAPPY EATING...
- Regional Indian Food & Travel enthusiast