Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fruit in a Curry!

I have a thing for what we call “independent houses”. As opposed to apartments. It is my dream that one day I will own a large, sprawling bungalow (independent house, if you will. Or row house… or whatever else it is called in your city!) with a lawn in front, a backyard, a porch, a driveway, an outhouse, and lots of trees and place for kids to play. No, we do not have kids. Yet. But that doesn’t stop me from wanting a huge play area, lots of trees to climb, lots of hidden nooks and corners to play hide-and-seek and a lovely verandah or porch to sit and bask in the sun…

That is the kind of house I grew up in and spent 16 years of my life in. I admit that as a kid everything seems much bigger than it actually is; so maybe in my mind’s eye I have attributed space and size that is exaggerated than what it actually was. But now I can’t help it… It has to be as beautiful and sprawling as it is in my imagination :) Of course, staying in Mumbai as we do, this might just remain a dream forever… but that doesn’t stop me from fantasizing about it every day. All my childhood memories, the happy summers, the cold winters, the evening play dates - everything is coloured by the house I lived in. Even the not-so-good times have a character and despondency of their own brought about by the dark, brooding façade of the house in its later years. Good or bad, our huge, ancestral house lent a unique spirit to every memory of mine…

Every time I think of my childhood home, food is not far behind! I know I have gone on and on about the food I grew up with many times, but the dish I’m talking about today is just another one of those traditional Telugu recipes that makes me wax eloquent. As a kid, I admit I never had any great love for this spicy, heavy curry since I was obsessed with only all things fried or potato. And that’s all my diet would consist of… But this “Ava Koora” (Mustard Curry) was a regular feature on our dinner table and was made with either raw papayas, raw bananas or with lauki (gourd). I know these are not the most exciting of vegetables and you might think how can fruits like papaya and banana be made into curries(??), but trust me – when you pair these raw fruits/veggies with the mustard mix, the super pungent flavours will blow your mind!

BOPASAKAYA AVA KOORA (Raw Papaya in Spicy Mustard Curry)

Raw Papaya – 1 small
Mustard seeds (Rai) – 2 tbsp
Raw Rice – 1 tbsp
Grated fresh Coconut – ¼ cup
Green Chillies – 8
Ginger – 1 inch piece
Coriander Leaves – 1 fistful

For the tempering:
Vegetable Oil – 1 tbsp
Urad Dal -  1 tsp
Channa Dal – 1 tsp
Mustard Seeds – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – 6
Dried Red Chillies– 2
Turmeric – 1 pinch
Asafoetida (Hing) – 1 pinch

Soak 2 tbsp mustard seeds and 1 tbsp raw rice in a cup of warm water. Peel and cube the papaya roughly into 1-inch squares. Make sure you discard the seeds. Boil in salted water until just tender. Drain and set aside. Take the soaked mustard and rice, green chillies, ginger, grated coconut, coriander leaves and salt and grind to a paste. Add about a tablespoon of water, if required, to get a smooth paste.

In a kadhai or non-stick pan, heat 1 tbsp oil. Add all the tempering ingredients and fry till the dal turns golden brown and the mustard seeds start sputtering. Now add the boiled and drained papaya pieces and stir for 2 min. Then add the mustard-coconut paste and mix well. Sprinkle some salt and a little water if needed. Cover and cook for about 10min.

The way I like it:
It's mustard-hot, spicy and delicious!!! Tastes best when served hot with steamed rice and some ghee in typical South-Indian style :) Also goes well as an accompaniment with rasam-rice and rotis.

This recipe is making it's way to Charitra and Richa Priyanka's event - F for fresh Fruit Curries!