The core ingredient for this PP dish are these exotic seasonal blooms called शेवळं. (Scientific Name – Amorphophallus Commutatus… I found a website referring to this as Dragon Stalk Yam – but can’t find a single site with a recipe)…
The edible flower is definitely an ingredient in some CKP style dishes in addition to being used by Communities along the North Maharashtra Coast (Raigad to say Dahanu). But I haven’t yet located recipes using these from any other place.
The flavour is best described as very very meaty and mushroom like. A lot of people complain that it has a very strong unpleasant flavour (including Manju my wife)… But I guess it’s just one of those acquired tastes you pick up when you start having these things as a kid!
The flowers are increasingly difficult (not to add expensive) to source – a few vendors in each vegetable market especially the vendors from Vasai/Palghar will stock these.
The flower is fairly easy to clean but I’ve heard of a few people being allergic to touching them (apparently causes itching). They need to be cleaned very carefully though, since most parts of the flower are toxic… Only a part of the fleshy stamen is edible.
As you’ll see I the below pictures, the petals and stems need to be discarded. Of the remaining fleshy edible part, very carefully trim off all traces of the yellow dotted bit. Pretty as they are, a small amount of the yellow bits are capable of inducing anywhere from a mild rash / throat itch to severe itching all over the body.
When it comes to ingredients like this (growing in the marsh, available only for a few days in the year, are toxic) I keep wondering about the first bloke who decided that this ugly thing was edible!! Hats off to him/her!
To make this curry you’ll need the following ingredients –
Chopped and Blanched shewal – 1 cup
Chopped Onions – 1.5 cup
Tamarind Extract – 0.5 cup
Red chilli Powder – 2 tsp
Parbhi Sambhaar – 2 tsp
Oil – 4 tbsp
Prawns (preferably karandi) – 0.5 cup
Coconut Milk – use half a grated coconut (thin second extract 1.5 cup & thick first extract 1 cup)
Besan – 2 tbsp (dissolve in thin extract and make a slurry)
Hing – 1 pinch
Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan, add a pinch of hing and chopped onions – sauté on a medium flame till the onions are pink (add some salt so that the water leaches out and they caramelise quicker)
My mom claims that making a purée of this mix intensifies the flavour and also further reduces any chances of the residual itchiness coming through – but I do know of families who use this mix as-is without caring to purée. But to follow the method used in our family, blend the mix once to a chutney like paste.
My personal favourite – some crisp fried suka bombil!