Consuming superfoods on your mind, then red amaranth leaves or daar chi bhaji (as the leaves are called in the Kokani dialect spoken by the community) is the go to vegetable in the Kokani Muslim households. The amaranth plant is a common occurrence in the village houses growing in the backyard or courtyard of the house in the Konkan belt of Maharashtra. Its leaves being a rich source of iron, antoxidants, vitamins, phytonutrients and even dietary fibers. Back in the days, around a meal time the leaves were plucked, washed, chopped and quickly spun into a nutritious broth.
Who are Kokani Muslims? What's their cuisine? How's it different? These are some of the questions that are frequently popped to me. So I decided it’s time I did a simple series #DiaryOfAKokaniMuslim around our culture especially it's unique gastronomy and along the way also share practices prevalent in the community so that everyone gets to know us Kokani Muslims a little more.
I belong to a relatively small ethnic community, the Kokani Muslims, who inhabit the coastal stretches and their surrounding areas in Mumbai, Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts of Maharashtra state. The community has emerged as an outcome of intermingling of the local population with the Arab traders who flocked western India shores in aforementioned districts for trade, centuries before the various Islamic dynasties made their way to India via the route in the north of the Indian subcontinent. Hence the community's cuisine is a beautiful melange of native Maharashtrian and the Middle Eastern culinary styles.
Owing to proximity to the coast Kokani Muslims have seafood at the heart of their traditional cuisine. While fresh seafood is extensively consumed, the use of dried fish is equally popular in the community.
So this #ChutneyDay I bring to you a very special, traditional, spicy chutney recipe entailing use of dried bombil (Bombay Duck fish) with dried red chillies.
Here is how the recipe goes:
Hiddi or vaal or field beans are spun into this simple yet flavourful curry in a Kokani Muslim household. The key flavouring agents for this curry are coconut milk, fennel powder and turmeric.
These lentils are used especially in monsoon to make up for lack of availability of most fresh vegetables during the season. Also, this curry is a bit heavy to be consumed in the hot summer weather, but in monsoon it tends to be perfect given the slight nip in the air.
Here is my detailed recipe for your perusal:
During summer raw Alphonso mangoes are used to make this sweet-tart side dish in our Kokani Muslim kitchens. In villages, whole raw mangoes would be slow roasted by placing them among embers till cooked. However in cities a convenient and quick option to explore is to pressure cook the raw mangoes.
This dish can also be prepared with residual raw mango cores remaining after the mangoes have been chopped for pickles.
Here is how the recipe for this dish goes:
This is a popular curd preparation in our Kokani Muslim household. It's a digestive side dish that derives it's name from the traditional wooden churner/whisk called 'mathani' used to prepare it. With a dash of spices and coconut milk, it's one flavourful dish you would love to have in your meal during the hot summer months.
My recipe has appeared in today's Mumbai Mirror and you can check it out on link below or scroll further for the checking out the recipe right here:
While Kokani Muslim cuisine may come across as a gastronomy bending towards non-vegetarian fares, yet it has umpteen vegetarian dishes that are unique in their own right. Most of the vegetarian preparations were devised depending upon vegetables that grew in the home's backyard in the typical village houses. These included different types of gourds, beans, greens and much more. While in cities we may not have the luxury to have our own backyards nevertheless we source these traditionally used vegetables from the local market.
Right from the whole vegetable itself to its peels to its leaves different parts of the vegetable are brought in use for different dishes.
So this #SubziTarkariDin here is a glimpse of the vegetables and their preparations that are regularly seen in my kitchen.
A pasta dish that is laden with eggs but is sweet rather than savoury. Saravle is the name of the sweet dish as well the Kokani Muslim version of handmade, sun-dried, miniature, ring-shaped pastas of refined flour of the same name. In a braiser pan, the saravle are roasted along with a restrained amount of ghee (clarified butter) till they develop a golden-brown hue. After this stage, adequate water is added and the pan is covered with a lid to allow the mixture to simmer on medium heat. This cooking procedure continues till the saravle are tender but the liquid has not completely dried up. Now, sugar, green cardamom powder and pinch of salt are added to the saravle and the mixture is cooked till the water completely vaporizes. Subsequently, whole raw egg is added to the saravle in a manner similar to sunny side up and this is further cooked on a low flame for a few minutes. The ready saravle are then served piping hot garnished with dry fruits and khuskhus (poppy seeds).
While seafood dominates the Kokani Muslim cuisine, there are other forms of meat too that the Kokani’s enjoy eating. Apart from seafood, MAAS or mutton is also popular in the #KokaniMuslim cuisine. Unlike seafood it is not used for everyday cooking. It's use is reserved for special ocassions, festivals, weddings and family get togethers.
The curries so made are relished with DHAAN (steamed rice), BAGHARI DHAAN (Also called Sada Pulao made by tempering rice with sliced onions &/or whole spices) and SAANDAN(steamed rice cakes). Mutton is used to make a number of flavourful curry dishes called MAASACHA SAALNA, SHIKORI, GORISO etc. depending upon the region in the coast you are from.
A common way of preparing the mutton is a flavourful gravy or saalna as Kokanis call their gravies. Also, Kokanis love to flavour their non-seafood preps too with smokiness of roasted coconut so this dish too is not spared from the addition of coconut.
We savour this dish most with saandan or traditional steamed rice cake. This combination brings back childhood memories of Eid day when grandma would have saalna and saandan prepared as a festive meal.
Here is my recipe of arriving at this flavourful curry.
- Regional Indian Food & Travel enthusiast