Mumbai Food: Home chef introduces aromas from the Konkan at this pop-up

Updated: Jan 05, 2017, 13:53 IST | Shraddha Uchil |

On the surface, the seafood-rich Konkani Muslim fare might appear similar to Maharashtrian coastal food, but here’s a cuisine as unique as its people

Bharlela Paplet (Stuffed Pomfret)
Bharlela Paplet (Stuffed Pomfret)

Mumtaz Kazi Mumtaz Kazi 

FRAGRANT, spice-flecked biryani and melt-in-the-mouth kebabs — this is the general perception of what Muslim cuisine in India is all about. However, there’s more to it than just these dishes. To explore one such ‘forgotten’ cuisine, we must look towards the lush Konkan coast, home to the Konkani Muslims, whose food is a seamless blend of historic and local influences. Home cook Mumtaz Kazi (née Pawaskar) and her cousin Sameera Gawandi, both Konkani Muslims who hail from the fishing village of Harnai in Ratnagiri, will be showcasing this unique fare at an Authenticook pop-up next weekend.

Coconut Chutney with Chawrachi RotiCoconut Chutney with Chawrachi Roti 

Back to the beginning
So, how did this community come into being? Professor and food historian Dr Mohsina Mukadam has a theory. "Arab traders migrated to the Konkan coast several centuries ago. Over time, many of them married local women and settled down for good, giving birth to the community," she says. As a result, the cuisine relies on fresh catch from the sea and draws inspiration from the staple dishes of the region, while also displaying some peculiarities. Mukadam adds that while some dishes such as kormas and kebabs stay more or less true to their original forms,others have taken on very local flavours.

Bangde Kelyachya Paanat (Mackerel in Banana Leaf) 
Bangde Kelyachya Paanat (Mackerel in Banana Leaf) 

A happy marriage
For instance, shares Kazi, the food makes heavy use of coconut milk, which is available in abundance along the Konkan coast. "We tend to use less water and more coconut milk while cooking. The traditional way of preparing rice in our homes is by boiling it in coconut milk," she adds.Fish, coconut and rice — these are the three most crucial items in a Konkani Muslim’s diet, according to Mukadam. Rice makes an appearance in different forms. At the pop-up, Kazi will be serving a Coconut Chutney with Chawrachi Roti, a flatbread made using rice flour. "It’s unlike a bhakri. We boil the flour and then knead it, roll it out, and bake it on the tava. It’s soft, similar to a neer dosa," she says. A pancake-like sweet, Sandan, too, is made with coconut and rice flour.The Arab influence is evident in the use of fennel seeds to make curries aromatic, as well as in dishes such as the Dum cha Mhaura, where the fish is cooked using the dum technique.

Sukhi Kolbi (Prawn Masala)Sukhi Kolbi (Prawn Masala) 

Keeping memories alive
Kazi believes it is important to keep in touch with one’s roots. "Some dishes may be time intensive, but most are simple enough to put together. It’s very easy to make these at home," she says, adding, "It’s nice to see people appreciating traditional fare once again. I guess there’s only so much Chinese and Continental food that one can eat." She herself took to cooking like a fish takes to water. "I was in school when I started documenting family recipes. I hope to compile them in the form of a book someday," she says.

Peyushi (Coconut Milk and Cashew Pudding)
Peyushi (Coconut Milk and Cashew Pudding)

Dum Cha Mhaura (Dum-cooked Fish)
Dum Cha Mhaura (Dum-cooked Fish)

ON: December 18, 1 pm AT Authenticook Underground Studio, 1, DK Sandhu Marg, Jai Ambe Nagar, Chembur (E). 
LOG ON TO: authenticook.com 
COST: Rs 1,350

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