Thambuli is from Udupi, as far as I know. Growing up we did have it made at home with different green leaves – spinach, coriander, amaranth leaves, methi leaves and more. Then there are kinds without the greens like ginger, methi and plain coconut. They all have two things in common – a coconut base and yoghurt. Ideally a summer side dish, thambuli is very cooling and delicious. For people who don’t like consuming yoghurt as it is, thambuli works great.
A good fish curry is an absolute favourite of mine. Ideally, fish curries at home are made with sardines and mackerels. Sear fish (surmai) is usually pan fried. I made my curry with rohu fish. Full of bones yet works very well with Mangalorean curries. I already had the spice paste from the kori sukka I’d made. I just simmered the fish in this spice paste with tamarind water and my curry was ready.
When you’re in no mood to cook but have enough material to whip up something for dinner in just a few minutes and about two steps, it’s time for makeovers for leftovers. Remember my kori sukka from a few days ago? In that post I mentioned I was saving the curry for something else. Here it is. One lazy night I turned it into an egg gassi. I could have made it easier by just cracking open the eggs into the curry but I hard boiled a few eggs and dunked them in the gassi.
Coming from Mangalore, most dishes at home was made with coconut. Either curry or a dry dish, they had a coconut base. Chicken sukka is a dry dish made with freshly ground spice paste and lots of freshly grated coconut to finish it off. Once the chicken in cooked, we wait for it most of the liquid to evaporate so it turns dry enough. When there’s still a little left we add the grated coconut and a tempering of fried onions and curry leaves. We often had this with rice and dal.
I post most of my meals’ pictures on Instagram regularly (follow me). The picture of my dinner plate recently seemed to delight many people. I was asked the recipe of the bitter gourd dish in it, hence the post. “Kanchala ithnda yenchala unoli” – what my grandmother said (in Tulu) every time I pulled a face after learning it was this dish being made for lunch. Loosely translated – when there’s bitter gourd you can manage getting through a meal. Bitter gourd doesn’t have a good reputation because of its bitterness. But I’m glad to learn there are a number of takers like me who love it. However, I think I like it only the way mum or granny used to make it – sweet and spicy. So there’s bitterness from the vegetable, sweetness comes from jaggery and the heat from chillies. Jaggery is added generously so you actually taste the sweetness. I deseeded the chillies because I prefer its colour to its heat. And mind you, it was still hot.
Mutton and potato gassi recipe
This is another Mangalorean style curry, only with mutton and potatoes. The masala is freshly ground and has coconut, turmeric, garlic and whole spices among others. It’s hearty and delicious. You can deseed the red chillies to avoid heat yet keep the colour. Dry roasting the spices brings out their natural flavours and gets rid of any raw like taste. My mother says dry roasting the shredded coconut also adds to the curry’s colour. I’m certain it alters the taste as well.
Potatoes are cooked with the mutton, so be careful not to cut them into small pieces. Else they’ll dissolve in the curry. But when cooked right, they take on all the favours of the mutton and spices and taste great!
Yield: Enough for 4 hungry people on a Sunday afternoon
Prep time: 10-15 mins
Cooking time: 30 -40 mins (depending on the mutton)
Mutton – 1 kg cut into pieces
Coconut milk – 1 cup
Onion – 1 large sliced
Potato – 3 cut into large cubes
Ghee to cook in
Salt to taste
For the masala:
Freshly grated coconut – 1 cup (roughly 60-70 gm)
Kashmiri/byadagi chillies (long red dried chillies) – 4 large or 7 medium ones (I deseeded two of them so it won’t turn out too spicy)
Gundu chillies (small round dried chillies) – 4
Garlic – 4 cloves
Ginger – 1 inch piece
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Cumin seeds (jeera) – 2 tsp
Coriander seeds (dhaniya) – 1 tsp
Peppercorn – 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds (methi) – 1/4 tsp (or even less)
Cinnamon – 2 inch stick
Tamarind pulp – 3 tsp
Wash mutton and keep aside.
Heat a nonstick pan (tava/kadai) and dry roast coconut till it’s lightly toasted (refer to pic). Let it cool on a plate while you move on to the other ingredients.
Now roast the other whole spices together and keep aside.
In your blender blitz together the coconut, whole spices, turmeric, ginger, garlic and tamarind. Add a splash of water (1/4 to 1/2 cup) so it turns into a paste.
Heat ghee in pressure cooker and saute onions till translucent and soft.
Tip the mutton pieces in and let them brown on one side.
Add the ground masala and mix it all up. Add salt and have a taste. This is your chance to change whatever you want to change in the masala – add chilli powder if it isn’t hot enough, add more tamarind if it isn’t sour enough.
Add the potatoes.
Now add the coconut milk and 1 cup of water.
Let it come to a bubble on high heat, then put the lid on. Once two whistles are let out, lower the heat and let it cook slowly for exactly 20 mins. Take it off the heat and let the pressure drop on its own.
Open the lid and check how the mutton is cooked. Always check the bigger piece with bone. Mine was cooked so beautifully, when I lifted the piece the bone literally slid off the meat.
At this point the curry is done. But if you want to, you can add some more coconut milk to lighten it or not if you like the curry the way it is.
Garnish with coriander leaves if you’d like.
Serve with rice or roti.
The 90s take me back to Mangalore, where I spent most summer holidays. I also stayed there at granny’s place for 5 years to finish school and college. My favourite and my best years, of course. There was this petty shop in the neighbourhood where the owner, Vinayaka, treated his customers like family. Well, those were such times. There was this sense of belonging to a place, to its people and its food. That shop didn’t have a name. He said he’d have to pay extra taxes and rent if he got it commercialized (or something to that effect). He anyway sold things like newspaper, cigarettes, chocolates and other small things.
Kori gassi | Mangalorean chicken curry recipe
Nothing can come close to my late grandmother’s kori gassi (chicken gravy, literally translated). It was even better when made in a clay pot (bisalé) on a wood fire ‘stove’ which gave it an earthy smokey flavour. The flavours would intensify the next day and the gassi would then be had with neer dosae (paper thin rice crepes) or semedadye (string hoppers/rice noodle cakes).
Grandmothers and mothers have years of experience behind them cooking these dishes. Even today mother can’t give me the exact measurements for her curries. She says you need to have a free hand and a few trial and errors to get it right yourself. Which turned out to be quite the case. However, after many practices over the past year, I’ve come close to being pleased with this kori gassi. I serve it with kori rotti (crispy rice wafers?). This rotti is available in all Mangalore stores. Let the rotti soak up the curry and enjoy!
Chicken on the bone cut into pieces – 1 kilo
Onion – 1 large sliced, 1 medium finely chopped for garnish
Coconut milk – 1 cup
Ghee – 1 tbsp
Ingredients for ground masala:
Coconut – 1 cup freshly grated
Kashmiri/byadagi chillies – 4 large or 6 medium (I deseeded 2 of them so it’s not too hot)
Dried gundu chillies (small round ones) – 3 (these are for heat)
Cumin seeds – 1.5 tsp
Coriander seeds – 1 tsp
Peppercorns – 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds – 1/4 tsp or a pinch (use sparingly else the curry will turn bitter)
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Garlic – 4 medium cloves
Ginger – 1 inch piece
Tamarind – pulp from a tbsp full of it or 1 tsp if you’re using readymade paste (you can alter this according to taste)
Turmeric powder – 1.5 tsp (you want that lovely colour!)
Water – just enough to get the blender running to make the paste
Wash chicken pieces and keep aside.
Dry roast chillies first on a hot nonstick pan and keep aside.
Now dry roast the rest together, except the coconut, tamarind, ginger and garlic.
After this, dry roast the coconut till it’s lightly toasted. It also shrinks a little.
Once they all cool down, put them in a blender along with the ginger, garlic, turmeric and tamarind.
Add a splash of water and blitz away till you get a relatively smooth paste. Keep aside.
Heat ghee in a kadai or a cooker and saute the onion slices in it till they turn soft.
Add the chicken and the ground masala. Mix well coating the chicken with the masala.
Add a cup of water, salt and half the coconut milk.
Let this come to a bubble, lower the heat and cook for 30 mins or till chicken is tender.
Add the remaining coconut milk and check for taste. Adjust salt accordingly.
Let it simmer for a min or two and take it off the heat. Cover with a lid and let the curry rest.
Heat some more ghee in a pan and fry the chopped onion in it till brown and garnish the chicken with it.
Serve with rice, dosae or like I do, with kori rotti.
This one’s a staple back at mom’s place. It’s basically eggs poached in a coconut based masala. Ideally it’s supposed to have potatoes as well, but I didn’t have any at home so I went with just the eggs. Most Indian egg curries have boiled eggs in a spicy gravy. But this one’s got them poached. I love eggs in a curry this way. The base of the curry is pretty much like the one for a kori (chicken) gassi. I went a little low on chillies though.
Also called Bafat Pork and Dukra Maas.
A friend/colleague from my Bangalore Zomato days moved into my flat a month ago. We share a common love for pork. The Mangalore style in particular. Thankfully his mum sent him her recipe for Dukra Maas and we managed to find some pork here in Gurgaon (no not those dirty pigs running around the city!).