Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tharavu Curry – Kerala Style Duck Curry

With our feet up on the coffee table, holding hands and watching television, cozily snuggled under a soft fabric, the chillness of which caressing my skin as the cool breezy night winds stream through the French windows, my brain was busy recollecting the taste and fragrance of the ghee flavored rice my tastebuds soaked up that noon for lunch……and I heard myself asking CJJ:

"….ennathe neichoru nalla ruchi aayirunnalle…?.entho onnu different aayirunnu…. “ ( . that ghee rice tasted great today…something was different, wasn’t it? )

He responded sharing the same tone and depth of satisfaction …” sherikkum…..nalla adipoli aayirunnu…..njan randu moonnu thavana eduthu…..” ( truly….it was awesome.. I went for 2-3 servings)

….njanum kore kazhichu….” I replied and with a playful smile tucked around the corner of my lips, I added hesitantly yet with a pinch of pride in my words “ njan ondakkeethaa….. :)” ( me too had lotss…..you know, I made it ? )

Even before the words got slipped into air, he blurted out the next line, “ pakshe aa curry ugran aayirunnu…..athaa athrem kazhiche….” ( but that curry tasted awesome….that’s why I had so much of food..

That was like an unexpected slap on my face…… a gentle slap smeared with love. I didn’t feel bad as the curry under discussion was my mother’s duck curry and I knew how much of care and attention to detail had gone into the preparation of the same. I have never been able to understand and appreciate the depth of flavours in this particular dish as I am not a duck lover, to put it mildly but I have always noticed duck curry enthusiasts like CJJ and my uncle relishing her work of art with disturbing silence at the table which is a true indication of their approval and appreciation of the dish. Sharpness from the roasted powdered spices gets well balanced with the mild sweetness of the coconut milk and the potato wedges dunked in the pool, soak up the heat and fatty flavours of the meat and spices like a sponge. Adding coconut milk to meat preparations is a method that got introduced to my mother’s kitchen through our extended family members hailing from the Thrissur region of Kerala and from the time she realised the depth of taste the oil adds when coconut milk gets slow-cooked while simmering, she has been adding coconut milk to this particular duck preparation.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients: (Approx.)
To Marinate:
  • Around 1 kg Duck, cut and cleaned into pieces
  • ¼ cup coriander powder, lightly dry roasted
  • 4 tsp ( or to taste ) red chilly powder, lightly dry roasted
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper powder, freshly made
  • 1 tsp homemade masala powder/garam masala
  • 3 tsp ginger and garlic paste, freshly made
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 whole potato, medium size, washed and cleaned
To Sauté & Cook :
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 big onion, thinly sliced ( around 1 cup)
  • 1 cup small red pearl onion , thinly sliced
  • 6-8 Indian green chillies, slit lengthwise
  • 1 ½ inch piece of ginger, thinly sliced
  • 4-5 medium cloves of garlic, thinly sliced ( Optional/ As per taste & tolerance)
  • 1 tsp + 1 tsp homemade masala powder/garam masala
  • ½ cup freshly extracted coconut milk, medium consistency
  • 1 ¼ to 1 ½ cup water or as required
  • 1 large sprig of curry leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • Marinate duck with all the spices and herbs, listed under the marinate section, except the whole potato and leave it covered on the kitchen counter for 30 minutes.
  • After the 30 minutes window, place the whole potato on top of the marinated meat layer in a pressure cooker and pressure cook until cooked and soft. Duck usually takes more time to get cooked, compared to chicken.
  • Heat oil in a mann-chatti/clay pot or a large wok; sauté thinly sliced big onion and small onion till they begin to turn soft; now add thinly sliced ginger, garlic and green chillies and cook till it leaves an aroma. At this stage, add homemade masala powder and stir in low-medium heat, until a nice whiff of aroma comes; remove the cooked whole potato from the pressure cooker and add only cooked meat to this masala base and also add little water, about ¼ cup to the pressure cooker to wipe off the traces of spices and herbs from the cooker , to add to the cooking pot. Let it sit together for 1-2 minutes, in heat. Meanwhile, peel off the skin and gently cut the potato into wedges and add to the meat . Add ½ cup medium consistency coconut milk and mix everything well ; to this pour about 1 ¼ cup water or just enough to cover the meat ( mainly to get the gravy), and bring to a boil in medium heat. Add curry leaves and 1 tsp homemade masala powder and mix well and let it simmer for another 20-30 minutes, in low heat, till the gravy thickens and the oil coating ( from the fatty meat as well as the freshly extracted coconut milk) floats on top. Switch off the stove and let it sit for atleast 30-60 minutes before serving.
  • Serve with rice or any leavened or unleavened bread.
Related posts:
Mutton Curry Ghee Rice Roast Chicken Vegetable Ghee rice Kerala Chicken Stew

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