The surprise ingredient was Poha Masala Powder known as Phova pitto/Kumta Masala in the Konkan region. After receiving the package when I read her notes on the same, I was really happy that she chose to send me something that is widely used to cook a classic dish at her place. In her own words, “What is the first thing any Konkani person can remember when you say “breakfast or evening snack”? Almost 90% of people say it is ‘Kalayile phovu‘ (Kalayile means mixed, phovu is phoha/avalakki)…… So this is even given to people who work for long hours in sun. Basically it is a food very famous in rural areas”.
Once I settled at the new place, I set off to try this masala powder and my first stop was at ‘Kalayile phovu‘ , from Shilpa’s blog itself. She had written in her post that “This was a must in all Konkani wedding breakfasts along with upma. But these days idlis and wadas have replaced this traditional dish”. What more can stir up my curiosity!! With the desire to enjoy a traditional Konkani dish with one of their classic ingredients I made that classic dish and did enjoy Kalayile phovu, which is flattened/beaten rice mixed with the freshness of grated coconut and embellished with a touch of Poha Masala Powder/Phova pitto/Kumta Masala and jaggery. I liked the sweetness of jaggery correctly balanced with the mild heat from the Masala. From her other posts, it was clear that it could be used in other vegetable dishes too and I started experimenting with vegetable stir-fries which really worked well. I liked the way it spiced up the vegetables. Our favourite discovery was the use of this Masala Powder in Potato Fry and believe it or not, we like it so much that I made a batch yesterday and one this evening too! Potato Fry with Masala Powder/Phova pitto/Kumta Masala tastes better when cubed potatoes are cooked in lot of oil and it holds its shape well, unlike the ones cooked in microwave first and then sautéed in little bit of oil with Poha Masala. This can be a side dish or a spicy appetizer. The one in picture slightly got overcooked in microwave as I did not want to use that much oil again and hence the bad shape.
To Cook Potato Fry with Masala Powder/Phova pitto/Kumta: In 2-3 tbsp oil, splutter some cumin seeds/jeera; add ½ tsp red chilly flakes and stir well; to this add ½ cup of finely chopped onion and cook till it is transparent and now add 2 tsp Poha Masala and stir well. At this stage, add cubed pieces of two medium size potatoes with salt to taste and cook covered, until the potatoes are soft. Switch off the stove and add a tablespoon of chopped mint and coriander leaves to dress up the entire dish. For a health friendly version, cook potatoes in microwave first and then sauté in oil with onion and Poha Masala and garnish with herbs.
Shilpa, Thank you so much for such a thoughtful gift :)
To continue this Friendship chain event, I passed a packet to Shaheen of Malabar Spices and to another friend of mine.
Check out Shilpa’s blog for the authentic Konkani dishes!
Wishing you all a great week ahead!