Goa, renowned for its beautiful beaches and people is an idyllic getaway for many. Every school holiday meant a trip to Goa to spend time with family. Along with beautiful weather and some of the most amazing produce, what I enjoy most are the traditional Goan sweets. Since moving from Bombay, these sweets are no longer within easy reach for me. So over the last few years, I’ve done the next best thing – learn to make them myself. A lot of these sweets make an appearance on the Goan Christmas platter also called Kuswar (pronounced koos-wahr). So far, I’ve had brilliant luck with quite a few and I will list them along with links to their recipes at the end of this post. I’m hoping to get a few more of them up earlier this year. So check back soon.
Today, after a long wait, I’m happy to share with you a recipe for Dodol. Dodol is almost a jelly like sweet made using Goa Jaggery, coconut and rice. Traditionally made, it is a very labor intensive recipe, but the results are so worth it. You use coconuts, freshly grated and juice extracted, the rice roasted and ground and after the jaggery is added you cook it long and slow, stirring continuously. Unfortunately for me, I don’t have access to Goa Jaggery in Sydney. But I was told that I could use Molasses instead. So on my last grocery shop, I picked up a bottle of Molasses. I decided I was going to try a few short cuts to cut down on time involved and used rice flour and a can of coconut cream. I’m happy to report that the whole prep and cooking process that usually takes hours, took be about half an hour from start to finish. The hardest part was leaving it overnight to set. You may not need to leave it that long, but I made the dodol in the evening and it was too warm to cut into after dinner.
But when I did cut into it, it was soft and delicious, just like I remember. I would recommend refrigerating it for a while before serving. It cuts a lot easier when cold. So if you’ve been putting of making Dodol because you can’t find jaggery, go get some molasses and get making. When adding the molasses, don’t go by the color of the mix, but taste for sweetness.
1 1/2 cup rice flour
1 can (400ml) coconut cream
3 tbsp roughly chopped cashew nuts
1 tsp ghee to grease the loaf tin and knife
Water, as needed
Grease a loaf tin with a little ghee and keep aside.
In a large pan (I use the 12″ Kitchenaid Stainless steel skillet) measure out the rice flour. Add enough water and make a batter (almost like a thick pancake batter). I use a whisk for this as it mixes the flour well without any lumps.
Pour in the coconut cream and whisk till dissolved.
Add the molasses and stir.
Now, place the mix on a medium heat and let it cook, stirring continuously.
When it starts thickening, drop the heat to low and continue stirring. I find that you may still find lumps in the mix even inspite of stirring. Use a whisk and break them up. It returns to a smooth consistency very quickly. I had to do this about 3 times.
As it thickens, it gets harder to stir. Add the chopped cashew nuts and keep stirring.
After about 20 minutes, here’s what my mix looked like.
Continue cooking till the mixture starts leaving the sides of pan and looks a little glossy. I cooked the mix down for about another 5 minutes, stirring continuously.
At this stage, you need to work quickly. Pour into the greased loaf tin and flatten it down using the back of a spoon or a spatula.
Leave to set and cool completely. Once it has cooled you can either refrigerate it for later use or demould it to serve. To demould, just place a plate, slightly larger in size than the loaf tin, on top and tip the tin over the plate. A slight shake of the tin and plate should be enough to loosen the dodol and let prop it on the plate.
Slice and serve.
Pin now and try later.
We use a roasted masala (spice mix) for this curry. So there is an extra step of roasting a few ingredients before grinding, but it doesn’t take too long and that added step does a whole lot of good stuff for your curry. It adds amazing depth of flavor and your curry just wouldn’t be the same without roasting the masala.
So if you’re craving some good Goan food, try this curry. It took us right back to Goa. And until we visit Goa again, we’ll just have to make do with little culinary gems like this one.
Goan Crab Curry
3 Blue Swimmer Crabs (or any other crabs of your choice)
8 curry leaves (curry patta)
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
2-3 fresh green chillies, slit
5-6 pieces of Kokum*** (See note below)
1 tbsp oil (We use olive oil for all our cooking, you can use whatever mild cooking oil you have)
Salt, to taste
For the Masala (Spice Paste) –
1/2 large onion, roughly chopped
6 large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
3/4 inch ginger, roughly chopped
1/2 cup grated coconut (fresh or frozen will both work. If using frozen, let it thaw before roasting)
10 Kashmiri Chillies (See note below), discard stalks
1 tbsp Coriander seeds
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
1 tsp tumeric powder
8-10 peppercorns (this will add heat so use about 6-8 for a milder curry and around 10 if you want it hotter)
1 tbsp oil
1 tomato, roughly chopped
Prep the crabs, sprinkle a little salt (about 1/2 tsp) on it, toss it in a bowl to salt the crabs well and set aside.
Roasting the Masala –
Heat a large pan / tava on medium heat.
Drizzle the oil in the pan and add the onion, garlic and ginger. Saute till it softens a bit.
Add the coconut and stirring frequently, roast it till it gets fragrant and the color starts changing. Lower the heat, if needed, to ensure the coconut and the spices don’t burn.
Next add the Kashmiri chillies, coriander and cumin seeds and stir with the rest of the ingredients for about another 30 seconds.
Now add the turmeric powder, cloves, peppercorns and cinnamon to the rest of the spices in the pan and roast for about another 30 seconds to a minute, till it all gets fragrant and heated through.
Take off the heat and transfer to a large plate to cool.
Once it has cooled to room temperature, grind the roasted spice and coconut mix with the chopped tomato and a little water to a fine, smooth paste in the blender.
For the curry –
Take a large pot, preferably with a slightly wide base that you will be able to fit all the crabs into.
Heat a tbsp of oil and add the finely chopped onion to the pan.
Saute till it has softened and is golden brown.
Add the spice paste and stir through. Let if fry off for about 2 minutes.
Add the Kokum at this stage.
Next add the crabs stir to coat with the spices.
Now add a little water to achieve the desired consistency for your curry.
If you don’t have kokum and are using apple cider vinegar, add the vinegar, to taste, at this stage.
Let it come to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes (Please note, this time will vary depending on the size of the crabs.)
Check for seasoning and add more salt if needed. At this stage if you find the curry too thick you can add a little more water to thin it down a little and continue to cook till it comes back to a boil.
If you find your curry too thin and want it thicker, continue cooking on a medium high heat till you get the desired thickness, stirring every now and then to ensure the curry doesn’t stick to the pan and burn.
Serve hot with some boiled rice or bread.
– Kokum is an Goan souring agent (dried pieces of the Indian plum) using in cooking. You will find it in any Indian grocery store. If you don’t have any on hand, just use some Apple Cider Vinegar, to taste.
– Kashmiri Chillies are dried red chillies. These are mild in flavor. You can substitute any other mild dried chillies or chilly powder.
Every summer, snake beans were at the peak of their season. We didn’t grow this but there was a local farmer in the village who did. And he did a fantastic job of it. I loved and to this day love snake beans. We cook this up in a very simple way, a traditional Goan fugad. A fugad has its roots in Portuguese food. It is a stir fry of vegetables with some spices and seasonings and a sprinkling of fresh grated coconut. Most Goan households still cook their vegetables this way. The snake bean version was my favorite. I volunteered to prep 2 massive bundles every single day. Yes, I managed to convince my mother and aunt that I wanted to eat this every single day while I was there and that I would clean it and get it ready to be cooked myself. Thankfully, they obliged and so someone from that good old farmers household would graciously drop off a couple of bundles at the house on their way to the market. The simplicity of the dish may fool you. But the end result is fantastic. In my humble opinion, it is delicious. The beans turn out tender and sweet I’m sure kids would love it too. I could eat it by itself or with steamed rice or chapatis.
I recently managed to get some gorgeous bundles of snake beans and had to make this fugad again and I thought it was a perfect opportunity to share it with you. So if you can find some good, fresh snake beans or if you grow them yourself, I hope you try this out.
Eeril Fugad / Goan Snake Beans Stir Fry
3 small bundles of snake beans, the fresher the better
1 large onion, diced
2 fresh green / red chillies
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup freshly grated coconut
1 tbsp olive oil
Break off the ends of the snake beans and break off into inch sized pieces. Rinse through and drain and keep aside.
Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.
Slit the chillies in length, but not all the way through. This way you get all the flavor but not much of the heat.
Let the chillies fry up for a few seconds till they get fragrant.
Add the chopped onions and saute till the onions have softened and get slightly brown on the edges.
Add the snake beans and stir them in for a while. You will see the green color of the beans turn a darker shade.
Add the salt and let the bean stir fry for about 2 minutes.
Add a splash of water, a very small amount to prevent the beans from burning and help them cook through.
Cover the pan and let it cook. Add more water, if needed.
When the beans are almost cooked, add the freshly grated coconut and stir through.
Serve hot as a side dish with some Goan fish curry or prawn curry and rice or with some chapatis.
I can’t wait to share more about the trip with you. However, that wonderful trip ended with an anti-climatic couple of days of jet lag followed by 2 weeks of a cold, stubborn cough and a couple of days of a fever. Am I glad that’s over. I hate being unwell mostly, because that means I cannot be up and about cooking and enjoying the simple pleasures of life. But I’m well and truly glad to be back.
One of the first few things I cooked up after getting back on my feet is my beloved Mama’s Meatball Curry. I’ve always loved this curry right from the time I was a little girl. This time when I went to Mumbai, I knew I had to learn this recipe from her. See this is the thing with her recipes, she can whip them up with her eyes closed, but ask her to tell you how she makes it and she may leave out a thing or two, not intentionally of course. So this time around, I got into the kitchen and watched her make it. Yes, I watched her, like a hawk 😉 And I’m happy to report that I got the recipe down and made the curry today and I was really pleased with how it turned out. Ofcourse, nothing can beat the food my Mother makes (even though I follow her recipes to the T, her food always turns out better), but this came pretty close, I tell ya.
This recipe is a little more intricate than most of the recipes I share here, but it is really easy. There are two parts to it – one is making the meatballs and the second is making the curry itself. This curry is full of flavor and goes really well with either plain steamed rice or this fragrant Peas Pulao. If you’re not in the mood for rice, it goes well with some Goan bread (Poee) or dinner rolls too.
Goan Meatball Curry
For the Meatballs –
1/2 kg beef mince (ground beef)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1-2 green or red chillies, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves and stalks, finely chopped
Salt, to taste
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2-1 tsp red chilly powder
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce (optional, though it does add good flavor)
Mix all the ingredients together.
Form the meatballs and set aside.
For the curry –
1 small onion, finely chopped
6 curry leaves
2 tbsp oil
Salt, to taste
Tamarind, to taste (Soak tamarind in warm water to form a pulp)
Fresh coriander leaves and stalks, finely chopped
1 large potato, peeled and cut into large cubes
Grind to a fine, smooth paste (masala) using a little water –
8 Kashmiri chillies (dry red chillies, mildly spiced, but used for its vibrant color)
4 Bedki chillies (dry red chillies, spicy)
3 large cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin seeds
10 black pepper corns
1/3 tsp turmeric powder
Heat the oil in a pan and carefully drop the curry leaves in.
Add the onion and saute on a medium high heat till the onions are translucent.
Add the masala and continue sauteeing for a few minutes till the raw smell of the masala goes and the oil starts to seperate.
Add salt, to taste.
Add water to get it to the desired consistency, depending on how thick or thin you’d like the gravy. Keep in mind that the gravy does thicken a little as it cooks. Err on the side of less, you can always add more water as you need.
Gently place the meatballs in the gravy.
Place the potato cubes in the gravy without smashing the meatballs.
Once the gravy comes to a boil, turn the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and let the curry cook.
After about 15 minutes, check to see if done.
Check and add more salt, if needed.
Add tamarind pulp to taste.
Once ready, garnish with some fresh coriander and serve hot.
**Note: You will be able to find Kashmiri chillies in most Indian shops in Sydney and a few of them carry the Bedki / bedgi variety. If you can’t get your hands on them, substitute with any dry red chillies you have on hand. You may then need to adjust the number of dry red chillies used, to regulate the spice level to your liking.