There are recipes that can be termed timeless, but not many find the time to recreate them with the same effort and magic.
My hunt to find special and unique recipes often start with my grandmother, who comes from a place called Kodungallur in central Kerala. These dishes used to be popular 30 to 50 years ago among the Muslim community but have now disappeared from the dining tables. Although I remember my grandmother preparing them, I had to research a lot and ask around to find people who could tell me the ingredients and method of cooking.
Fruits used in these dishes are seasonal and available only for four or five months. So, not surprisingly, these are made with a view for long-term preservation.
It is not hard to understand why these dishes are no longer popular. They need time and (wo)manpower to prepare. It must have been easier in the joint family set-up.
Even though Kadachakka (better known as breadfruit) is available all around the year, people don’t find time or take effort to make the elaborate dish with prawns and coconut milk. This dish is ideal with red rice. It has the richness of fried coconut paste and the tanginess of tamarind.
What makes the second recipe — the mango seed pancake — special is the fact that it is made with something that people throw away these days. Back then, people made it a point to utilise every part of a fruit or vegetable. This again is a time consuming dish as one has to soak the mango seed for upto five days. The entire mango seed is not used but the shell is cracked to extract the soft edible seed inside. I had only heard about this dish until I decided to prepare it myself. Even today, only a handful of people know the recipe of the mango seed pancake. Apart from its mouth-watering taste, it has health benefits and is very good for digestion.
The Manga Thera or Mango Candy has a long shelf life. Back when every household had a large backyard, mangoes were in abundance. During summer, the Manga Thera was prepared to avoid wastage of good ripe mangoes.
Manga Thera (Mango Candy)
Serves 4 portions
Ripe mango 2 kg
powder 5 gm
Honey 20 ml
Ghee for greasing the tray 10 ml
Remove the skin of mango and make purée without water.
Grease the tray with ghee.
Mix cardamom powder and honey, pour into a steel tray.
Keep in the sunlight till dry.
When dry, it will form a thick halwa like mixture.
Cut in any shape and serve.
Manga Pathirappam (Mango seed pancake)
Mango seeds 5
Rice flour 80 gm
Jaggery 40 gm
Cardamom powder 3 gm
Lime juice 2 ml
Take out the soft part from mango seed shell.
Keep it soaked in water overnight.
Change the water every morning and repeat the process for four more days and grind it.
Crush jaggery, boil with water and strain it when thick.
Add rice flour to the ground mango seed and add cardamom powder and lime juice to make a batter in pouring consistency. Pour in mound and steam it. One can have it with sweetened coconut milk.
Chemmeenum Kadachackayum Varutharacha Paal Curry
(Prawns andbread fruit in roasted coconut gravy)
Prawns 160 gm
Diced breadfruit 160 gm
Mustard seeds 2 gm
Ginger 5 gm
Garlic 8 gm
Green chilli 2 gm
Curry leaves 10
Coconut oil 15 ml
Turmeric powder A pinch
Coriander powder 1 gm
Chilli powder A pinch
Fennel powder 1 gm
Tamarind water 5 ml
Coconut milk 10 ml
For roasted coconut paste
Grated coconut 75 gm
Dry red chilli 5
Coriander seeds 5 gm
Curry leaves 5 gm
For roasted coconut paste:
Saute all the ingredients in 10 ml of coconut oil in a thick bottom pan on low flame. Once it becomes brown, grind to a thick paste
In a frying pan, add remaining coconut oil and crackle the mustard.
Add ginger, garlic, green chilli and curry leaves and saute until it turns brown.
Add turmeric powder, coriander powder and chilli powder. Add breadfruit and sauté for two minutes and pour some water and boil it.
When breadfruit becomes soft, add prawns with roasted coconut paste, tamarind water and salt. Boil for two minutes and add fennel powder and thick coconut milk.
The writer is Sous Chef —Banquets, Holiday Inn, Kochi