Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Prawn with Raw Mango & Drumstick in a ground coconut sauce- Chemmeenum Mangayum Thenga-arachu Vechathu

Excerpts from some of the comments I have received from my readers:

R1: “…..Love your passion for cooking…..
R2: “…And ah I shud say this, you are really turning me passionate about cooking, i was always on the lazy side when it came to cooking.Thank you!!!
R3:” ……today,I love to explore and taste new ones...better ones..And you are the one inspiration..Thank you…

Responses of some of my friends from junior college, when they find out about this blog:

F1: “….heard about your cookery site……couldn’t believe it…haha..:)
F2: “ Saw your blog today…..how come u ‘re into cooking?
F3: “ why you never baked a cake for me while in college?

Well……why the disparity in impressions between these two groups …..a group who knows me only through the words I have scribbled here and another group who knows me in the real world, in flesh and blood? Am I projecting a different personality to each group? NO, NEVER!

I am trying to find an answer for this inconsistency in opinions and come out clean here……..it’s going to be an introspective post…..so those who don’t have time to read the whole thing, please scroll down for the recipe part.


With the prior experience of “two cups of tea and an omelet”, I started cooking after marriage to feed our two hungry stomachs, returning from work. The glitter in CJJ’s eyes, in the initial days, when I served him a plate of “cooked” rice and a “not burnt” stir-fry or “ not-curdled” Pulisseri, gave me the confidence to try more . Every evening I was greedy to see his excited smile or his beaming face …… that made me pick up the phone and make an STD call to my mother, to learn a new dish. Besides, I was scared…..yes, scared that someone from my extended family might pass a remark that, “ohh…I saw C last week…..he has lost weight….I don’t think that girl is cooking anything…..poor guy! “. So I made sure that I gave him a glass of milk with two heaping tablespoons of Horlicks or Bournvita or a bowl of oats slow cooked in lot of milk and an egg, everyday!! Trust me, it worked! On our first visit to home, after a month – an eventful month of kitchen adventures – everyone had only one thing to say, “ Aww….C has put on weight!!! So she is cooking something, huh?

Well, the glitter in his eyes is still my motivation ………the confidence on our friends’ part to come home and dare to eat something I cooked, is my accomplishment and if someone asks for a recipe, that’s icing on the cake……and the fact that my parents and brother has not really enjoyed anything beyond a “30 minute Biryani” I cooked for them in the initial days of my cooking escapades, is my sorrow…….

Though my friends’ responses always leave me with a smile on my face, comments from my readers always gets me into a reflective mood as it makes me wonder if I really deserve those compliments or not. I am not someone who is really passionate about cooking. Neither do I consider cooking therapeutic nor do I find kneading the dough relaxing. An odd vegetable in the produce section may invoke my curiosity but that basic level of curiosity ends there, it does not exceed to the point of that peculiar vegetable making it to my shopping cart. A tiramisu or a Caramel Pudding might be my favourite desserts but that does not make me jump up and down when I see a new recipe for the same with a variation. Years back when my friend sent me the recipe for Fruit cake, she shared two equally good recipes and I tried one and it was a success. I bake the same cake, follow the same recipe year after year without even considering the second recipe in hand, as I am someone who sticks to a single recipe if that works for me and satisfies me and my family. BUT I have been writing a food blog for the last two years and two weeks! So I ask myself, “ Is it the blogging part that motivates me or am I really into cooking? If it’s the activity of blogging that I enjoy, why did I choose to write a food blog? It could have been any other topic! “

Well, I am a foodie, no doubt and food blogs had a charming appeal one me…..I developed some sort of infatuation with the idea of food blogging as I moved from one foodie site to the other. I was really taken aback by the way my predecessors featured a recipe……the creative component in all those blogs fascinated me. And before I knew CJJ pushed me into the crocodile pool!

As I learned to swim in the pool, I developed some misconceptions too. I blogged only those recipes which I thought “blog worthy” and since I was not a serious cook, my honeymoon period with food blogging was fading away until the day I wrote a post on Kanji & Payar. That was the turning point, the last U turn before food blogging had the probability of joining the endless list of my dead hobbies. The response and feedback I got made me believe that people love to read and learn about every day dishes as much as they appreciate an exotic creation. Exactly around the same, I came across a discussion forum where my post on Kerala Potato Stew was referred by a westerner, to the other members in the forum, mentioning specifically that it was a tasty Indian vegetarian dish usually served with a lacy pancake!!! It was hard to believe that Kerala’s humble potato stew could find a place with mighty Paneer Masala and Aloo Gobhi!! That’s the day I realized the potential of food blogs and the opportunity to be food ambassadors, inviting people around the world to enter our home kitchens and show them what we cook/eat on regular day ….the opportunity to share a slice of our culture presenting it’s cuisine in all its nakedness. In some way or the other, my dreams of becoming a travel journalist blended smoothly with the opportunity in hand, though that is not what I was really doing.

As I tried to feature traditional recipes, weaving stories from my childhood and adulthood, in an attempt to show how that particular dish is significant to us, I was also allowing myself to open the window to the world of traditional or old-world cooking. It did not take much time for me to develop a genuine desire to record the culinary traditions of my family and the one I married into. I did not want our grand mothers’ culinary legacy to go waste and the best way to cherish them was sharing those recipes with others.

So that’s the inspiration behind this food blog…….!

I hope I tried to bring both the groups - my readers and friends - to the same platform :)


This dish is a classic example of Keralites’ clever way of sneaking in some seafood into a vegetarian dish or vice versa or a good example of using the bits and bobs from the kitchen.

For boiling:
  • Around ¼ kg prawn/Chemmeen, peeled, deveined and washed thoroughly (I used 15 jumbo shrimp)
  • A handful of sour green mango, skin removed and cut lengthwise (add depending on the sourness you need)
  • 10-12 drumstick pieces of 1 inch length, cleaned and split lengthwise
  • 3 green chillies
  • 1 tsp ginger, thinly sliced
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp chilly powder
  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • Around 1 ¼ cup water
For Grinding:
  • ¾ cup grated coconut
  • 3-4 green chillies
  • A small pinch of cumin seeds/Jeerakam (Optional)
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt
½ cup water to make the gravy

For Seasoning:
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds/Kaduku
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds/Uluva
  • 2 dry red chillies
  • 2 small red pearl onions
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves
  • 1-2 tbsp coconut oil
  • Grind grated coconut, green chillies, garlic, cumin seeds, turmeric powder with a dash of salt into a fine and smooth paste and keep aside. Add some water if your mixer gives you a hard-time and in which case, use little water from the one kept for making gravy to thin it out, so the dish will not turn out to be too watery in the end.
  • In a curry-chatti/earthenware, cook - prawn, mango slices and drumstick pieces, mildly spiced with red chilly powder, turmeric powder, salt, curry leaves, thinly sliced ginger and green chillies in 1 ¼ cup water or enough to cover all the ingredients- until everything is cooked well. To this add the ground coconut paste and pour water, suggested in the ingredient list or enough to get your desired consistency and bring to a boil in medium heat; try to stir occasionally when it bubbles start to appear and turn off the stove.
  • In a shallow pan, heat coconut oil and splutter mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, dry chilly and sauté small onions and curry leaves for a minute and pour it to the curry. Let it rest for minimum one hour for the sourness of mangoes to embrace the seafood flavor of the prawns and blend well with the creamy coconut paste.
  • Serve with warm rice/chappathi(flat wheat bread)


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