Ro whisked me away to Goa for my birthday this year for some sun, sand and air. It was a welcome break for the three of us as we spent exclusive time with each other. Watching the sunrise amidst the chirping birds as I did my daily pranayam and suryanamsakar on the green lawn in front of our villa, the baby playing in the sand, soaking in the cool breeze and fresh air, hearing the sounds made by the waves as they splashed across and then silently moved away, seeing the sunset and absorbing the scenic beauty of nature made for a very rejuvenating holiday.
The many visits to Goa when I lived down south did not have the same effect on me, as being stuck in the brick & mortar & gas filled city of Mumbai, I value these getaways even more than before. The highlight of this visit for both of us as parents was to see our little one pottering about the lawn, the beach, the roads and exploring new sights and sounds, getting excited about everything around him and getting thrilled with the buggy rides.
I have always liked the customer friendly atmosphere prevalent in the Taj group of hotels and I cherished it even more this time as we were their guests with a toddler in tow. The genuine service attitude and attention to details as well as catering to specific demands is simply exemplary, an outcome of strong inbuilt values. Very few organizations have that inherent quality to make the guest feel at home and the Taj scores solid points here.
When I was talking to Chef Santan at the Fort Aguada, he handed over some Goan recipes, the first of which was a fish curry. Realizing that I'm a vegetarian, he smiled sweetly and said that I could replace any vegetable of my choice in this curry.
Back home, when I opened the recipes my eyes fell upon this curry again and I realized that this was not alien to me at all. Infact, I had grown up eating these coconut spiced gravies and they figure highly on my comfort food list. This curry is very similar to the many curries that my mother makes. Making this, takes me back to my mother's kitchen and the meals served at my parental home eaten with siblings, cousins, family and friends.
Reminiscent of the coastal scents of Goa, the coconut trees, pristine beaches and fresh air, this curry with assorted vegetables in a coconut spiced gravy can be enjoyed over a lunch, brunch or dinner affair. A bowl of this curry, some well cooked basmati rice served with a pot of yogurt would make some souls happy for sure!
Goan Vegetable Curry
Use fresh seasonal vegetables of choice in this curry.
220 gm (2 cups) fresh or frozen coconut, grated
5 gm (1 tsp) tamarind
5 gm (1 tsp) fresh ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric powder (optional)
Spices, to be roasted
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp peppercorns
2 or 3 dry red chillies
3/4 cup (375 ml) water
4 cups assorted vegetables
(I cup French beans, 1 cups carrots, 1/2 cup peas, 1/2 cups potatoes, 1 cup cauliflower)
1 litre (4 cups) water
2 tsp salt or to taste
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 dry red chillies
1 sprig curry leaves (optional)
1/2 tsp asafetida powder
In a small saucepan or a wok, on medium heat, put in all the spices and dry roast until the coriander seeds turn golden brown and the spices begin to emit their aromatic flavours, about 3 to 4 minutes. (Note: You may have to decrease the heat, if the spices begin to burn or turn black.) It is absolutely essential to make sure that the spices don't turn black.
In a blender or food processor, put in the coconut, tamarind, ginger, turmeric, the roasted spices and 3/4 cup water and grind to a fine paste.
In a saucepan put in the water and the cut vegetables, cover and cook till done, about 10 to 12 minutes. You might want to add cauliflower after the carrot and beans are half cooked, to prevent them from turning mushy.
After the vegetables are cooked, add salt and the ground paste and bring to a boil. You could add 1/4 to 1/2 cup more water if you want a thinner gravy.
In a small wok or saucepan, heat the oil over a medium flame, add in the mustard seeds and when they pop, put in the red chillies, curry leaves and asafoetida powder, mix once and pour this into the vegetable curry. Give it a good mix and serve hot with rice, rotis or parathas.
I love to serve this curry with plain basmati rice and some plain yogurt which makes for a balanced satisfying meal.
Serves 4 to 6
Adapted from the recipe provided by chef Santan at Vivanta by Taj, Fort Aguada
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