I wonder how Goans – or any Indian for that matter – made their masala pastes so smooth before the invention of food processors? No doubt they used a pestle and mortar, but I’m betting they never got it as smooth as they do nowadays. Those dry chillies are a nightmare to grind to a paste by hand, believe me I’ve tried. The reason for my ire? I’ve been trying out various recipes for Goan fish curries and have found that my ancient food processor is no longer up to the job of anything much. That’s not to say I haven’t been able to produce a masala. Just that after half an hour of whizzing around in the processor it doesn’t go beyond finely ground. But that’s not going to stop me from posting this recipe. It’s too good not to and I don’t want you to miss out on the tanginess and spiciness of a traditional Goan fish curry. Just try to make your masala paste smoother than mine!
Stating the obvious, India (in the main) is a hot country. Yes, the north gets cold in the winter and has four distinct seasons, but the vast majority of the country is hot year round. This means a lot of sweaty people. Myself included. There’s no escaping it in humid Mumbai and is something we’ve had to accept and learn to live with.
Parathas are chapatis’ more indulgent siblings. Layered with butter, ghee or oil and then roasted on a cast iron pan where more fat is added, these are not for anybody wanting to reduce their cholesterol levels! Whereas chapatis are an everyday staple in India, parathas are generally saved for special occasions or as a breakfast treat. They can be eaten with both meat and vegetable dishes, or simply with a cup of masala chai.
Ice-cream is underrated. I’m not really sure why, and I admit I do it too. Maybe because of its simplicity? Or maybe because we’ve all probably eaten some shop bought ones that promised something on the box but didn’t deliver? I do know though that I’d never say no to a good homemade one. I’ve been trying to have a go myself, and after a couple of curdling disasters I’ve managed to make one that doesn’t taste half bad.
Mango season will be over pretty soon unfortunately and I’ve been forced to wean myself off them. Although, not before we were gifted a box from a friend’s family farm containing a dozen each Alphonsoes and Kesars. Though we tried to eat them as fast as we could, we couldn’t keep up with the ripening! So instead I used a few to make a preserve to keep that mango taste going just that little bit longer. I used the Kesars, but any variety will do. Just adjust the sugar according to the sweetness of your mangoes – remember the cold preserve will taste less sweet than the raw ingredients. The final product is equally good both on toast and as an accompaniment to grilled fish.