A Heartwarming Goud Saraswat Brahmin Meal
My tryst with Saraswat food started with a lovely book I picked up in Pune by Mrs Nadkarni.Written in Marathi,it had a plethora of dishes and as I tried them one by one,I realized thateach had a unique flavor with just a minor variation in ingredients..Soon after I came upon Rasachandrika,a cookbook by the Saraswat Mahila Samaj printed in 1988.This being in English,made it easier for me to cook the long list of vegetarian dishes it had.
When I saw Authenticook had a Gaud Saraswat Brahmin (GSB) meal planned for this Saturday,I was thrilled.Having tried some at the home of our Mangalorean origin GSB friends Pradeep and Chethana Rao,I know this was going to be a treat.
Saraswats originated from Kashmir and lived on the banks of the Saraswati river.in the Goud region in Northern India.They spoke Sanskrit.Due to a famine,they had to look for alternative sources of food and therefore though they were Brahmins,they started eating fish.Some say as the river dried up,they migrated to other places.
Meena Anil Sanzgiri Wakade pointed out that it was said that Lord Parshuram brought them to Konkan and Goa.During the Portuguese rule,some migrated to Karnataka and some to Mumbai.She is from a Mumbai Gaud Saraswat family married to a Konkani Saraswat family.Her mother was a Mumbaikar,her grandmother from Sawantwadi and aunt from Belgaum.Food at her place was therefore a celebration of Saraswat food from all over.At home predominantly they had coconut based gravies.The Mumbaikar Saraswat cuisine is more like Goan with additional Pathare Prabhu dishes.Like Goans they use tirphal (akin to sichuan pepper).Konkani Gaud Saraswats use garlic instead of tirphal (like home chef Prabha Kini did)
Chitrapur Saraswats on the other hand are vegetarians.I first heard about this sect from Shanti Padukone,not related to Deepika Padukone,who writes a lovely food blog on her CSB cuisine.There are Saraswats in Maharashtra,Goa and Karnataka and also in Bengal! At the lunch I also met Saraswats who are Catholic.Saraswats from Udipi have a sweeter touch to their food,thanks to the addition of jaggery.
The whole process was very well organized by Authenticook.The directions to the host's home were bang on,Google map being included!The meal was at the home of Chef Prabha Kini and it felt like I was sitting at home with my family friends and chatting.Topics ranged from Jungle Book to Salman's six-packs and work breaks for "hawa khana" and other jokes from Kunal Rasania
Our welcome drink was a cooling lemon and saffron drink which is served at GSB weddings.Chef Prabha Kini's son Abhijeet (creator of Angry Maushi comics) gave us pearls of information while his wife Diksha was sous chef to her mum-in-law
Then came the outstanding Prawns Talashilele (Mangalorean style Prawns Chilli Garlic) and Chicken Ghee Roast which was mopped by Oondi (rice balls with urad dal and coconut).These are had for breakfast and lunch.Ghee Roast originated in Kundapur but is now available all over Karnataka.I have made this at home and loved it.
The surprise item of the day was Sanna Polo a savory made of urad dal,red chill powder and cabbage.Absolutely lip smacking! In season,this is made with bamboo shoots.
Then was delicious Alle Piao Ghashi which was Pomfret in Ginger and Onion,Coconut based Gravy.Being a coastal cuisine,coconut is an important ingredient in Saraswat food.In summer,pineapple and mango sasav is made with grated coconut and mustard seeds.Pickled Jackfruit and Breadfruit are popular vegetarian items.
The humble dal took on a new avatar as the Dalitoy which was Urad dal with red chillies and hing.Simple yet terrific!
There was a salad which reminded me of Khamang Kakdi,the Cucumber Hullel.There was Mulgapudi or the Gunpowder to be had with ghee and Masala Taak as a digestive
The sweet ending was a rice kheer with almonds.
Truly a memorable lunch! I asked Amey Deshpande what made him start Authenticook.It makes me happy to see the younger generation turning towards home food as I always believe that the key to good health lies in traditional food.Indian ingredients have a scientific basis.Ameya and his lovely wife Priyanka,went to Eastern Europe on holiday and discovered that they learnt a lot about the Hungarian culture by a meal at a local's home.With such a vast choices of cuisine available in India,they thought it was a great idea to promote this concept in our country.I love the idea! Networking through food has also helped me make new friends and learn new perspectives.In the end,it's always the relationships that matter!