Malvani Masalas, Fusion Cooking now on Word Press

I’ve shifted to Word Press.

Was a bit fed up with blogger. The difficult photo upload feature. The drunken cursor which would go all over the screen eating up words, hiking my blood pressure, causing very embarrassing typos. I tried various things including writing on word and uploading. Just didn’t work. Many suggested Word Press for a while as a more user-friendly interface. I held on. I was quite attached to the Blogger blog. It was personal. Then I gave up.

Urged and guided by Monika of Sin-A-Mom I imported finely chopped and faraway diaries (my dormant travel blog) into the word press blog. Looked very strange. In fact almost felt as if I was cheating when I did this.

Anyway the deed is done. There would be bugs for a while as I get to know the format better. The formatting went for a toss during the imports. The side-bar features are gone. Even I miss the old format. So do bear with me.  And who knows, blogger might get its act right. In which case I will be back.

My friend and fellow food blogger, Sassy Fork, gave us some Malvani Masalas when she visited us this Sunday. I got Banu to use one of them when she called me today at work on instructions on what to cook. Well it wasn’t a true ‘Malvani’ dish. Malvani cuisine , named after the coastal region of Maharashtra called Malvan, uses a lot of coconut … grated coconut as well as coconut milk. I’d asked K to call for a pack of coconut milk this morning but she was too sleepy. So one had to think beyond coconut.

I had to improvise when Banu called me. I asked her to saute curry leaves and mustard seeds and then add the chicken (boneless leg cuts) and about two teaspoons of the Malvani mutton (!) masala and stir and add some curd to it at the end. So was this Malvani cuisine or was it ‘fusion’? Well, I didn’t use coconut milk but I did use mustard seeds and curry leaves which are used in Indian coastal cuisine, especially in the West and the South. The curd gave it a bit of tanginess which often comes from tamarind which is often used in this genre.

The end result was pretty good and both K and I loved it when we ate the dish for dinner. Reminded me a a bit of my Moorg Mango Dolly.

The recipe was my own. I doubt if any Malvani granny from a respectable family would cook the meat this way. But I did draw on the cooking traditions of this region as I thought of the dish.

Which is where I have a problem with the concept of ‘Fusion’ cooking. The chettinad pastas, the shrikhand cupcakes, the Strogannof biriyanis and of course the Paneer Schezwan dosas and the Chicken Teeeka Sandwiches. I must confess that I haven’t tasted much of ‘fusion’ cooking. It is fashionable these days. Especially in fine dining restaurants. But I believe in respecting cooking traditions. Con-fusion cooking doesn’t appeal to me as a concept. And I am not just talking of the apocryphal and libel-worthy ‘vegetarian’ Thai curries.

If a mother in rural Bengal makes noodles with turmeric and potatoes and serves it as a side dish to eat with rice for her daughter then it is love. But if a ‘cult chef’ plays around with cuisines to bastardise them then there is something rotten in the state of Denmark IMHO.

As an uncle had once pointed out, people who really love their drink would never have cocktails…they would go for the real thing. Which, in has case, is dark rum and water.

Perhaps, I am being too heretical.

After all the first tomato alu bhaji in India would have been a fusion dish too. Both vegetables being brought into India by Europeans.

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7 Comments

Filed under Food musings, From the hip

7 responses to “Malvani Masalas, Fusion Cooking now on Word Press

  1. So glad u liked the masala….shall get you the Malvani Chicken Curry Mix which only requires you to add onions,ginger,garlic and water.
    I too do not like fusion cooking.Give me traditional food anyday.
    I wasn’t sure whether curry leaves are used in Malvani cooking but apparently they are:
    http://konkanrecipes.blogspot.com/2010/01/fish-curry-recipe-malvani-fish-curry.html

  2. I am a fan of fusion – not necessarily only the fine-dining stuff though, although Ziya here in Mumbai is one of my favourite ‘special occasion’ restaurants and that is most certainly fusion.
    I would say that at least 50% of the ‘continental’ dishes I have eaten in India weren’t actually continental, but more fusion, and by this I mean tweaked to suit the palate to which you are serving the food. It’s the same everywhere – Indian restaurant food is the UK is a far cry from Indian food in India, a bowl of Vietnamese pho in Sydney is quite unlike that in Hanoi – I think it is mostly to do with the ingredients you can find and so perhaps to me fusion is more about ‘fusing’ the ideal ingredients with the ingredients you can lay your hands on or the tastes you like. I personally make my vindaloo with red wine and mustard – my take on the sort of flavours I was hoping to find in Pondicherry, but didn’t!

    • I guess the definition of ‘fusion’ becomes important Sue. What you have described would be similar ro blending in with your surroundings which is great. The forced fusion seems a bit mutant though

  3. Dew

    Thank God, you shifted to wordpress 🙂 Commenting is easier here 🙂

  4. Scarlett

    Like you, I too am not a big fan of fusion cooking. Only very skilled & talented chefs who really know their ingredients and have an excellent palate can make fusion dishes that work. The rest should respect cooking traditions 🙂

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