Sunday, July 13, 2014

Garam Masalyachya Tisrya


During my early days in the United States, among many things that made me homesick, my mom's Garam Masalyachya Tisrya was probably one  of the top tens! Even today, whenever I visit home, my mom always makes this curry on the very first day.

I still remember, many moons ago, on a wintery night in the US, we stopped by a restaurant to have a bowl of soup. I spotted "Clams Chowder". It even had potatoes like my mom puts in her curry. I relished it adding tons of black pepper and crushed red pepper. Next time, I ordered it "to go" and sprinkled some Garam Masala. :-) I was trying to re-create my mom's signature curry.
 
We call clams "Tisrya" in Marathi. I never see clams here that we are used to in our Mumbai fish market. Even the "little" neck clams are quite big. But finally, I decided to go ahead and make this curry with the little neck clams that are readily available in the American supermarkets. You may substitute clams available in the can if you wish.
 
Garam Masalyachya Tisrya
Malvani Clams Curry
Ingredients
About 30 little neck clams
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
 
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp sugar
 
Roast one after the other and grind to a fine paste
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1/2 cup fresh coconut
12 byadgi chilies
1" cinnamon
5 green cardamoms
4-5 cloves
10-12 black peppercorns
1 tbsp. poppy seeds
1 small knob of dagad fool (optional)
5-7 garlic cloves
1 very small piece of ginger (optional)
1 cup thinly sliced onion
 
 
Method
1. Scrub clams very carefully. They are full of sand. Rinse thoroughly.
2. Place them in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add turmeric powder and 1/4 cup water. Cook till the shells open.
3. Switch off the gas. When they have cooled down enough to handle with hands, take out the clams. You may want to keep one shell if you like.
4. Drain the clam juice. Set aside.
5. In an iron kadhai, add a spoonful of oil. Roast each spice separately except poppy seeds.
6. In the same kadhai - using more oil as needed - roast onion, garlic and ginger separately till onion is dark brown but not burnt.
7. Now roast coconut till it's deep brown, not burnt. As the coconut turns brown, add poppy seeds and roast again.
8. Now, grind all the roasted spices and masala with tamarind paste and water as needed. Make sure to make a fine paste.
9. Place clams back in a saucepan. Add drained clam juice. Add potatoes. Let it cook till potatoes are semi-cooked.
10. Add ground masala paste. Add water as needed.
11. Add salt and sugar.
12. Bring to boil.
13. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
14. Serve with tandalchi bhakri - rice flatbread or chapati and plain rice.
 
Note -
1. You may use just fresh or just desiccated coconut. But the authentic method uses both the kinds of coconut where fresh coconut adds fresh flavor and desiccated coconut adds a rustic flavor.
2. Clams may have salt content. Adjust salt accordingly.
3. Clams are covered with lots of sand. Scrub carefully.
4. Drain the clam juice to avoid any sand particles.
5. After initial cooking, discard any clams that don't open up.
6. Many home cooks in Mumbai use a knife or viLi to crack the clams and then use them in the curry. In my family, we boil the clams first, and let the clams open the shells instead of using knife.
7. If you prefer, you can add a tempering of finely chopped onion, before adding cooked clams to the saucepan and proceed.

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