Konkani Curries are mostly a blend of fresh grated Coconut,roasted Red chillies and Tamarind. However, there are those side dishes that skip the coconut part and concentrate just on Red Chillies and Tamarind, hmmmmmmmmmmm…my favorite kind . The heat from the chillies is toned down by the sourness of the tamarind. A little bit of roasted coriander seeds to cool down the palate is added ,however that is strictly optional.
Traditionally, Coconut Oil is used in konkani cooking. But , You have to use the good variety. (Kind of like extra virgin olive oil). If you cant find the good one ( aka…one that doesnt smell of rancid coconuts), you might as well use any other oil. The red chillies are roasted in a little bit of coconut oil. Normally, in any konkani kitchen, you will find a week longs supply of whole red chillies roasted and kept aside as there is nary a konkani dish that doesnt use it. Any other spice that requires roasting is done as and when required. As for the tamarind, I use the bottled variety.
The recipe below is my bapama’s recipes. Hence, I dont have any specific measurements.
Everthing is just eyeballed. However, I have tried to give approximate quantities.
Here are a couple of dishes. Consider yourself warned, you are entering the hot zone.
Batata Song (Potato in a chilli-tamarind gravy)
Before you ask me, let me tell you, I have no idea why this dish is called a song. I dont know if the word song has any other meaning in konkani. All I know is that this simple onion and potato curry zinged with the chilly+tamarind conoctation, makes my taste buds sing.
Onion 2 medium size chopped finely.
Potato 3 medium size boiled and chopped into bite size pieces.
Whole Red Chillies 8-10
Tamarind Paste 1/2 tsp
Coriander seeds 1/2 tsp
Roast Red Chillies and coriander seeds in a little bit of oil. Grind together with tamarind paste and little bit of water if required. Cook onion in a little bit of oil. After it has softened, add the ground paste, salt and potatoes. Add enough water to bring it the consistency of a semi-dry curry. Cook till everthing blends together. Batata song is ready.
The same curry can be made with mushrooms instead of potatoes. The ones used traditionally are small button size ones, the ones that I only find canned here. Baby portabellos most resemble the taste of the mushrooms I have had in India. I have also used the normal white mushrooms that you find in grocery stores here,they work out great too.