My forefathers were fishermen, in the southern part of Karnataka, heading out in their wooden boats at the crack of dawn with nets made of jute threads. Around 1910, an advanced form of fishing operation called Ramponi was put into practice using massive wooden boats and a complex system of nets.
It was a self-regulated, cooperative operation, focussing on sustainable fishing and sharing benefits with the community as a whole. In fact, these fishermen’s cooperative societies were the first of their kind in India and some of them exist even today.
Of course the advent of modern technology in the form of motorized trawlers has led to overfishing and a decline in the traditional fishing methods and sadly, the government is not doing much to preserve the old, sustainable ways at all.
My Dad who now lives in his family’s ancestral home tells me that it is almost impossible to find the fish that he grew up with, in the local markets; most of the fish caught by the trawlers are auctioned off and exported, with the result that locals rarely get to taste the fish from their own waters. Isn’t that a sad state of affairs?
Growing up in Bombay, we ate a lot of seafood. I think Mom and Dad were the happiest when fish was part of the menu and it helped that my Mom was a fabulous cook. She used to make the most sumptuous fish curries, but my favorites were prawn and clams dishes that she would make with lots of coconut and fresh spices.
I would mop us those curries with neer dosa (lacy, paper-thin rice pancakes, an art-form that mom had perfected) or drown a bowl of rice with the flavorful gravy and find myself in foodie heaven. I needed no coaxing on such days to have second helpings 😀
I haven’t been able to find clams here in Copenhagen, but mussels are plentiful in the summer. So, I decided to try them in one of mom’s recipes for clams sukka: steamed mussels, oodles of coconut, freshly ground spices…are you salivating yet 😉 This is one gorgeous curry and it worked so well with the flavors I remember from my childhood, I am wondering why I haven’t made it before!
I am bringing over these flavors of my childhood to Angie’s Fiesta Friday, to FoodieFriDIY hosted by Michelle, Jenny, Petro, Christine and Christie and to Monthly Masala hosted by Whitney.
- 1 kilogram Mussels
- 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil (or other cooking oil)
- ¼ teaspoon Mustard Seeds
- ½ teaspoon Cumin Seeds
- 1 sprig Curry Leaves
- 1 large Onion, chopped
- 2 teaspoons grated Ginger
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped or crushed Garlic
- 1 Green Chili, chopped
- 1/ cup grated fresh Coconut
- ¼ teaspoon Turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon Red Chilli powder
- A handful of Cilantro, chopped
- Salt to taste
- 3 Green Cardamom
- 4 Cloves
- 1 inch piece Cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon Fennel Seeds
- ¼ teaspoon Carom Seeds (Ajwain)
- ½ teaspoon Black Peppercorns
- Wash the mussels and remove their 'beard' and barnacles, if any. Discard any mussels that are open and will not close when squeezed.
- Heat a large pan on high temperature and add about 2 tablespoons water. Add the cleaned mussels, give it a stir and close the lid. Let the mussels steam for about 2-3 minutes.
- Uncover and give it a stir. Most mussels would have opened up now. If there are any unopened ones, leave them in the pan for a minute more. If they still do not open, discard the unopened ones. Strain the mussels and reserve the water that comes out of them.
- In another pan, dry roast the spices listed under Spice Powder, for a couple of minutes on medium heat.
- Transfer to a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder and crush to a fine powder. Keep aside.
- In the same pan, heat the coconut oil.
- Add the mustard seeds. When they sputter, add the cumin seeds and the curry leaves.
- Give it a stir and add the chopped onions. Cook till the onion is translucent.
- Add the chopped ginger, garlic and green chili and fry for a minute.
- Nest add the prepared spice powder, turmeric and red chilli powder. Mix well and cook on low heat for a couple of minutes,
- Add the grated coconut, reserving a teaspoon of it for garnish.
- Mix and saute for a couple of minutes.
- Add the steamed mussels and the reserved cooking liquid.
- Add salt as per taste.
- Mix it all well and cover with a lid. Cook for a couple of minutes on medium heat.
- Turn off the heat and garnish with chopped cilantro and the reserved coconut.
- Serve hot with steamed rice or dosa.