Soyi bahjill chane gashi (chick-peas in roasted coconut gravy) + Stuffed Bitter-gourds I (Konkani? Tamil?)

April 6, 2007 at 5:54 PM (bitter melon/gourd, channa/ gram, dishes by cuisine, dishes by main ingredient, India, Konkani, legumes/pulses- whole or split, Tamil Nadu)

    I’ll admit this to all of you: my absolute favorite legume/pulse is channa, AKA gram, chole, garbanzo bean, chick-pea……kabuli or badi/kala…..and also known as many, many other names around the world, but I know it as delicious!

    Over the years, I have tried several recipes of Indian origin, most of them Punjabi. I can’t blame them for their fondness, no….not at all! And while I find great pleasure in devouring these near-spherical wonders in rich browned onion and tomato or tamarind sauces, I found myself yearning for something new, something that I hadn’t yet found, and yet steeped in a long tradition that had as yet not revealed itself to me. That is, until a few days ago, when I happened upon a very intriguing recipe hidden in the folds of Manjula’s marvelous collection of Konkani recipes, Daalitoy.

     I think what intrigued me most while reading over her recipe, besides the lush coconut, red chile, and tamarind- based gravy, was the very subtle use of lightly-roasted methi seeds to add an almost imperceptible note within the layers of flavour. Manjula described two ways of making this dish: the first was with fresh, unroasted coconut and the use of methi made optional. As I tend to welcome a bit of luxury and greater complexity in flavour, I opted to prepare what she described as “a special variation of chane gashi” made with roasted coconut called soyi bahjill chane gashi.

    Let me tell you now, I was not disappointed! This dish, because of the complex aromatics released while roasting not only the coconut, but the chiles and methi as well, and also added to this the final tadke with its bounty of curry leaves, will literally bask your olfactory senses in sheer delight! Such a few, simple ingredients made into perfection! And look, I haven’t even mentioned the chick-peas since I began. It’s that good.

chane-gashi-one.gif

    This dish is traditionally prepared with the addition of a mild-flavoured, starchy vegetable that soaks up the delicious gravy like a sponge. She strongly recommends green jackfruit (fresh or tinned) if you have access; I opted for one of the other three that she mentioned: green banana (such as unripe plantain). After tasting this, I think I could recommend a few more, if I may be so bold: sweet potatoes, taro root, sweet cassava, jicama….

Soyi Bajill Chane Gashi

1 C chane, preferably kala/badi, but kabuli is fine too

1 C coconut, freshly grated or frozen

10-16 dried red chiles

a piece of tamarind, the size of a small lime

8-10 fenugreek/ methi seeds

1 C diced green jackfruit(fresh or canned)/suran(Indian yam)/green banana/potatoes

salt to taste

2 t oil

1/2 t mustard seeds

a pinch of hing(my addition…for greater authenticity, Manjula stated that this is not usually included.)

4 sprigs of curry leaves

1)Rinse chane and soak in water for 24 hours. Drain and cook in pressure cooker(20 min at 15#) or boil in water until just tender. Drain, reserving liquid.

2)Wipe the inside of a pan with oil and roast coconut, stirring constantly over med-low heat, until golden and fragrant. Remove to grind.

3)Seed chiles(if desired) and break into pieces. Roast in the same pan until they turn a shade darker. Remove and add to coconut.

4)Soak the tamarind in hot water for 30 min; pour through sieve and press as much liquid through as you can. Discard pulp and seeds, but collect any extract clinging to the bottom of the sieve.

5)In a grinding mechanism(I used a food processor) grind the coconut and chiles, adding a bit of reserved chane broth when necessary to achieve a smooth paste. Add tamarind to balance the sweetness (This paste is called masolu).

6)Lightly roast the methi seeds until a shade darker and fragrant. (Do not let them burn as they become too bitter). Grind to a powder (I used a mortar-and-pestle and then added chane broth to the mortar to make a “methi water”).

7)Take the paste, methi, diced vegetable, and cooked chane in a pot, add enough reserved chane broth to thin to a gravy. Bring to a boil, and simmer, stirring frequently, to cook vegetable and blend flavours (5 min if using canned jackfruit or 30 min or so otherwise). Add more broth as needed, and salt to taste.

8)Heat oil in a small pan, add mustard seeds. When they pop, add hing(optional) and curry leaves and fry for a bit. Pour this over the finished dish.

    I teamed this up simply with plain rice and, instead of Manjula’s suggestion of podi (vegetable fritters),  I decided on stuffed bitter melon (origin of recipe as yet unknown), and mosaru bajji, an excellent recipe I found within Shilpa’s collection. Thanks to you both (and hopefully neither of you are giggling over this combination for a meal!)  🙂

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BONUS RECIPE!!!!!!!!!!! If anyone can identify positively the place of origin of the following dish, I will post absolutely any requested dish in the world within one moon cycle. (disclaimer: if I absolutely cannot obtain a certain ingredient, reasonable substitutions must be allowed)

 Stuffed Bitter-gourds (from Premila Lal’s Indian Recipes, Premila Lal, 1968)

-written exactly as it is in the book

2 large bitter-gourds

2 T ghee

To be fried then powdered:

3 t black gram dhal

5 t coriander seeds

1/2 t cumin seeds

1/2 t fenugreek seeds

Grind to a fine paste:

8 dry red chillies

1 small ball of tamarind(size of a small lemon)

A little asafoetida (size of a tamarind seed)

Salt to taste

    Wash the bitter-gourds and cut into even round pieces. Remove only the seeds from the pulp then stuff these pieces with the thick paste made by mixing the fine paste with the powdered ingredients. Cook on steam ’til tender.

    Place a saucepan on a low heat and heat 1 tablespoon ghee. Transfer the cooked bitter-gourd pieces to the saucepan and pour the remaining ghee over them. Fry them on both sides ’til they become crisp and brown in colour.

    Serve with idlis, rice or chappatis, as preferred.

Bee of Jugalbandi has added in her comment: “Tamilians have this penchant for urid dal. J. says it looks very Tamilian (he’s one). Keralites would use rice flour to crispen it, so it isn’t from Kerala.

Anju from Mangalore has added from a comment: “The stuffed bitter gourd recipe is very similar to a Konkani dish my mom used to make (and I try to copy ineffectively) and is called ‘Karathe Pathrado’ (or ‘Karathe Kudko’ in some circles).  The only difference is the method of cooking the Karathe (Bitter gourd) after stuffing it.  My mom’s method calls for heating some oil, spluttering mustard seeds in it and placing the stuffed pieces in the hot oil.  After crisping up the bottom side of Karathe, water is added around the pieces (1/2cup maybe) and the lid closed and the pieces steamed until almost done.  Then, the pieces are turned over and cooked on the second side until that side has crisped up and the pieces are fully cooked.”

 

NOTE—–> This book, although printed under a single authoress, appears to be a compilation of recipes from many writers, as there is little uniformity in ingredient names or wording. (It reminds me of the American “church cookbooks” that are made by collecting donated recipes to raise charity money). A fine collection of recipes none-the-less….definitely a personal treasure…

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