Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mamidikaya Kobbari Pachadi

I've noticed that people are finding this post through Google recently. If you're looking to reproduce a well-made version you've had, please look at my pictures and description down at the bottom of the page and let me know if I got in the neighborhood. I like what I made, but it may not be in any way "right" and I'm curious. Thanks much.]

Here's another recipe without much of a story behind it, I'm afraid. I just picked up a coconut, some mangoes and curry leaves from the CSA, and hunted until I found a recipe that used substantial amounts of all three. This is a raw mango-coconut chutney from, according to Sailus Food's website, Andhra which is a state in southeast India.

I found a fair number of variations on the dish, mostly varying the coconut to mango ratio and the spice level. This is about average in the ratio but it's tons spicier than most.

This was my second time opening up a coconut and my first time dealing with a fully ripe one. The husk was a lot more dried out and fibrous this time around which made it rather easier to deal with. I was able to get it all off without breaking open the hull. For opening the shell, I used the technique I've seen of striking the coconut along its equator with the back of a hatchet, rotating between blows and continuing until it splits. It worked pretty quickly and made a surprisingly clean split. I'm taking an inordinate amount of pride in an accomplishment monkeys and crabs manage daily; I'm not really sure why.

Some recipes specified using a green mango for sourness, but the green mangoes to get around here are just bland so I went with a more ripe one. I got lucky that the one I picked was fairly tart. I didn't think it was tart enough, though, so I used the standard Indian technique of adding tamarind to supplement.

1 teaspoon cooking oil
1 1/2 Tablespoons whole coriander seeds
3/4 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
whole dried red chillies to taste (I used 5 arbols for a good bit of heat)
8 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 stem curry leaves, removed from stem

1 cup freshly grated (or processed) coconut
3/4 cup raw mango, peeled and chopped
1-2 Tablespoons tamarind paste, loosened in 1-2 Tablespoons water and strained
salt to taste

1/2 teaspoon cooking oil
1/2 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
1 stem curry leaves, removed from stem
2 dried red chillies, seeded and torn

1. Heat the teaspoon of oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add coriander, cumin and chiles and fry for two minutes until aromatic, reducing heat if the spices start to burn. Reduce the heat to medium low, add the garlic and curry leaves and fry for another minute until the curry leaves become aromatic. Remove to a small bowl to cool slightly.

2. Once the spices are cool enough to deal with, add to a food processor and process for a few pulses. Add the coconut, mango and tamarind and process for 2-3 minutes until it forms a coarse paste. [Looking at it at this point, I have little faith that this is going to result in anything edible.]

3. Clean out the small frying pan, add the 1/2 teaspoon of oil. Heat briefly over medium heat and add mustard seeds. Cover with a splatter screen and heat until the seeds pop. Add the curry leaves and chiles and cook for just a few seconds to bring out the flavors. Stir into the mango-coconut paste.

Serve over white rice topped with a couple spoonfuls of ghee.

Once again this is not a particularly visually attractive dish, but it's actually really good. It's creamy (no doubt from the coconut oil) --a little gritty, but without that unpleasant dried coconut chewiness. The flavor is complex: aromatically spicy, toasty and sweet. The coconut and garlic are prominent, both pleasantly toasty, but I'm not getting any mango flavor beyond the sweetness and not a lot of tanginess from the tamarind either. Still, they must be adding to the gestalt. There's surprisingly little heat considering how many hot peppers went into there, but there's a nice warmth in the aftertaste. I'm sorry I can't explain the flavor better; it's not quite like anything I've had before. Really good, though; I stand by that.

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