Exploring Koli Culture with Anjali Koli

Kolis (fisherfolk) are the first inhabitants of Mumbai.There have been several Koli Seafood Festivals all over Mumbai in the past few years which have been hugely popular.Mumbai now has its first Koli Restaurant Koli World at Oshiwara,Andheri.We wanted to learn more about their culture.
We set about shopping for fish with Anjali Koli at the Gopi Tank Market (Citylight) at Mahim.She is originally from Thal (Alibag)....same village by the sea that Anita Desai has written so beautifully about! She sources her ingredients from there and tries to help the women who make it,in her own special way.
Nirmala who has made an appearance on Discovery Channel helped us make choices.Anjali and she conversed in their sweet Koli language,a Marathi dialect.
Anjali showed us how to look for firmness in a fish for freshness and to check if the gills are red.We bought small crabs and learnt to distinguish between male and female crabs by turning them over.These were transformed 
into a delicious coconut based crab curry which was finger licking delicious.

In the monsoons,one gets crabs,lobsters,clams and small fish like mandeli,nevta and khare.Khubi is a type of sea snail that they have.Kolis make a thin curry of the"Newta" (see picture below).During Shravan,they are vegetarian,which helps nature replenish fish.They have dry fish and pulses after Shravan,while the rains persist,for the same. 

Kolis have rice and rice bhakris.We saw Anjali make rice by the yelni method,yielding rice from water.They say it's the best method and those that don't follow it are lazy :)

She used Ambe Mohar which has the aroma of mango trees.When she cooked it,the aroma pervaded the rooms.

She used Koli masala (a blend of 18 spices )for all the dishes.She blogs as Annaparabrahma and you can see all her Koli dishes here.We had pomfrets with Koli masala.Anjali herself is a vegetarian.She felt like giving up non veg while cleaning prawns one day.

She made a stir fry dish with Kolim (Javla or dried tiny shrimp),brinjals and spring onions...a dish with a refreshing new flavor.This is had at Koli wedding breakfasts and is served with Ghoad Ghari,made of wheat flour and jaggery.

We shopped,learnt how to cook the Koli way and ate.It was an afternoon all about fish and fish stories.There were three seasoned travelers with us,all adventurous about food...Pradeep,Shanky and Deepak.All extremely busy professionals who made time for exploring another culture.It was such a joy to listen to all of them.

In the end we received gift bags with Sode (dried prawns),Amboshi Cha Loncha (sun dried raw mango pickle) and the Koli masala.Can't wait to try them...


Anjali Koli said…
Manisha it was an amazing day for me to meet people who are equally passionate about exploring different food and cultures. It is the participant who made this event a success. I am glad you enjoyed the food. Thank you so much with this quick post!
Ritesh Agarwal said…
I am more or less a veg but that did look tasty on paper :)
Sassy Fork said…
Ritesh,thanks! :) Anjali is holding a veg event soon!!
Anjali Koli said…
Have announced the 'Koli yet Veg' event its on 21st June, Sat. Here is the link https://www.facebook.com/events/329833400501340

Hope to see Ritesh, do sign up early as I can take only 6 seats at a time.
Eli Z said…
Oh wow! Now I learned a lot! Did know about the kolis but very little about the food... Wanting to know more now -- thanks for sharing - I really enjoyed following your exploration of koli culture:-)
Sassy Fork said…
So glad Eli!! Anjali will be holding many more workshops. Her Facebook page is called Annaparabrahma. A special workshop on Crustaceans is due 😊
Anjali Koli said…
Eli it would be a pleasure to do a workshop for you and your friends. Ping me on annaparabrahmaATgmailDOTcom for more info.

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