Last month a contingent of friends came to visit from London and we all travelled south to Karnataka for what turned out to be an amazing two weeks of history, unfamiliar flavours, new friends and good times. For part of the trip we stayed in a homestay on a coffee plantation in hilly Kodagu (a.k.a. Coorg when under British rule, and also the Scotland of India despite the heat!) in the Western Ghats where we were spoiled with delicious home cooked Kodava food. Kodava food tends to be pretty meat and fish heavy, which is probably due to the fact that the Kodava people were traditionally warriors and agriculturalists.
This is my go-to drink when I’m hungover, got a cold or just feeling a bit run down. The sweetness and the spice are the perfect combination to help perk me up. Back when we were in London we usually only drank it at the weekend as making it at work was never possible. Here in Mumbai, as I am fortunate to be working part-time, I drink it unsweetened the days that I am home, and have the sweet version as an occasional treat from a roadside chai wallah – it always tastes better when someone else is making it!
I’m excited. It’s Diwali on Wednesday, my first here in India. Mumbai is a hive of activity, homes and shops are decorated, the streets light up colorfully at night and there’s a general air of festivity.
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.