Sundays should be like this! A sit-down meal on banana leaves placed horizontally,a marriage of the hot and spicy Kolhapuri food and demure,subtly flavored Saraswat food! Thanks to Smita Deo,we had this experience at A Perfect Bite Cook Studio,Mumbai! When you meet Smita,she reminds you of gorgeous mythological Goddesses and when you have her cooking,you think of her as Annapurna!
She has narrated the story of her life in her book "Karwar to Kolhapur to Mumbai": her childhood holidays in Karwar,her husband's hometown Kolhapur and the place of their current residence...Mumbai.The pictures are stunning! The cover has her holding a vegetable called "Chow-Chow".The food styling has been done by her and everything is authentic.No color has been added to make the dishes more appealing for the camera.The book is a magical journey through Karwar.The stunning Bellikery beach at Aversa (her village),a typical Karwar home and the Ankola fish market are some of the stunning pictures included.She talks of her love story and how Kolhapuri cuisine too became a part of her life after marriage,though with spices toned down.
Smita loves to feed people.Which is why it is good to have her as a friend.The spread she made was unbelievable,more so as she herself is vegetarian!! She judges by the aroma!
Among the guests we had Chef Bhasin of the Trident,the darling Zenia Irani (Branded Bawi),Shabeena (who makes herbed butter) ,Purabi Naha (who conducts Bengali food popups),Abhinav and Tina
It was a lavish menu and the good thing is that all the recipes are in her book :))
There was Kolhapuri Thecha that has more fire than Arnab's show! Fruit Sasam (spicy grated coconut with fruit) was delightful.I think I had half a bowl of it.I have had Pineapple Sasam before but the mix of fruits was just as delicious.
The Multi Grain Thalipeeth was served with smooth white butter.I liked it because it was way better than the fried restaurant versions
Dalitoy is something I had at the Authenticook Saraswat pop-up...a comforting dal made of tur dal (pigeon peas) and ginger and a tadka of coconut oil.Was mighty thrilled to see the recipe in the book.
I have had corn curries before and they have been bland.When Seema urged me to try this,i did it with hesitation but the mix of flavors bowled me over,making it one of my favorite items of the meal.The Kolhapuri garam masala (which she gifted us at the end) adds the kick to this dish
The other vegetarian dish was Colocassia Curry (Alu Che Phadphade),thick and flavorful.Breadfruit is also a part of Karwari cuisine.Looks like a jackfruit but does not have seeds inside.
Balukaka's Chicken Curry was robust and well spiced with coconut and poppyseeds.Will definitely make this.
Pandhra Rassa was superb! Made in coconut milk with spices like cardamom and cinnamon,this is a Kolhapuri special.Meat is the main constituent of Kolhapuri cuisine since it is located inland.
The Non-Fried Mutton Chops were the best things on the menu.If there weren't so many great items,I'd have had more.The masala was of peppercorn,cinnamon,cardamom and cloves.
The Karwari Fish Curry,Masali Ambat was mild and the fish very fresh.Tasted great with steamed rice.Smita also talked of local fishes which are oh so delicious but not available in Mumbai.(Mental note:next holiday,Karwar).Some curries use Tirphal,akin to Schezwan Pepper.Souring agent used in Karwari food is Kokum (not tamarind)
We ended with Madgane,a simple dessert made of coconut milk,rice and bengal gram.This is made at Nopi,a festival held in Aversa, 14 days after Ganesh festival by the family that cooks for the entire village.
What a meal!! Just to let you know,there will be a Karwari Cooking Class conducted by Seema soon.You know who's going to be there.....