Bilimbachi Sheer

Averrhoa Bilimbi (बिलिंब in Marathi) is an exotic sour fruit – the Pathare Prabhu clan uses this to make a curry that goes by the name बिलिंबाची शीर. The bilimbi may be replaced by any fruit / veggies (tomato / grapes / pineapple). Here goes the recipe –

Ingredients

Coconut Milk – 2 cups Grated coconut – grind with one cup of water and squeeze and strain out thick extract, grind the residual coconut with one two cups of water, squeeze and strain again to yield thin extract

Besan – 2 heaped tablespoons to be dissolved in the thin coconut extract

1/2 tsp each of hing and haldi

1 tsp each of red chilli powder and Pathare Prabhu Sambhar (may be replaced with a garam masala powder)

10-12 ripe bilimbi chopped roughly

1 small onion – chopped roughly

Salt and Sugar to season

Method

Add the chopped fruit and onion in a vessel, cook in a little water with the hing, haldi, chilli and sambar (no oil) till done.

Once cooked, add the besan dissolved in thin extract and mix well. Cover and cook for 5 minutes till the slurry thickens and there is no raw residual smell of the besan. Season with salt and sugar to your taste.

Add the thick extract and take off the flame.

Serve at room temperature with a spicy pickle and steaming white rice.

PS – the pic has the original recipe from गृहिणी मित्र (first version published circa 1910) – from my 1948 version of the book.

 Kolambi/Karandiche Hirwe Kalwan

Just like the earlier shiryache post, this is a fairly simple and utterly delicious coconut curry. It’s a Pathare Prabhu staple and apart from prawns (kolambi/karandi) variations can be made with egg or you could choose to keep it vegetarian.

Personally, I prefer the version with karandi (small prawns) in it.

This recipe serves around 6 people if you are having it as a side and have a main course to go with it.

It will easily serve 4 people if you are serving it on it’s own. I love eating this with fresh pav. But it goes well with chapatis/steamed rice too.

Ingredients –

1 Grated Coconut –  roughly 3 cups

Shelled and cleaned prawn (kolambi/karandi) – 1 cup

Juice of 1 Lemon

Rice – 1 tbsp (washed and soaked in water)

Garlic – 5-6 cloves

Coriander leaves – 1 small bunch (cleaned and washed)

Salt to taste

Hing – A pinch

Oil – 1 tbsp

1. Grind together a cup of grated coconut, garlic, coriander, soaked rice and salt to a chutney and set aside.

2. Use the balance 2 cups coconut to extract coconut milk. Start with a cup of water for the thick extract and then 2 cups water for the thin extract

3. Heat the oil in a deep vessel and add hing. Once it splutters, add the ground green chutney and saute for a minute over a medium flame

4. Add the thin extract (2 cups) and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, cover it and simmer over a low flame for 2 minutes. (I usually boil some prawn heads in the thin extract – find that the flavour’s better without having to overcook the prawns)

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5. Add the prawns in at this point and the thick extract . Stir this in and cook uncovered for a minute or two untill the prawns are cooked. (After the thick extract is added, the flame needs to be low. Thick extract requires gentle cooking. If it boils over post this point, the curry tends to have a split appearance and texture… Doesn’t really impact the taste!)

6. Take it off the flame and let it cool down a bit. Add the lemon juice and adjust the seasoning.

This needs to be served at room temperature with steaming hot rice or warm with pav.

 

 

 

Tomatochi Sheer (टोमटोची शीर)

Shire (शिरे) simply means coconut milk. The PP community uses a few words and terms which are quite different compared to the regular colloquial Marathi…  Shire being one such instance. (Most Maharashtrians would refer to coconut milk as नारळाचे दूध… And barring the PPs, very few coastal regions would be aware of the existance of coconut milk… Typically, before the advent and eventual popularity of Thai food, mostly the expression ‘coconut milk’ would draw a blank!)

Coming back to the topic at hand.. ‘Shiryache’!

No PP meal is complete without shiryache (coconut milk gravy). On vegetarian days, typically Mondays, Chaturthi or some specific religious events there are vegetarian versions. Shiryache is very versatile… There are versions which can be had as ‘fasting food’, some are cooked using seasonal fruits and vegetables, some with prawns (कोलंबी or करंदी) and go by the name ‘sheer’ (शीर) or ‘sambhare’ (सांभारे).

The shiryache is never too spicy. On the contrary, more often than not, it has a sweet undertone balancing out the spice of the fish/mutton/chicken/veggie which usually form the hot and spicy elements in the meal. This goes well with chapatis, pav but I personally like it best with a mound of steaming hot white rice!

Another peculiarity is that once made, the shiryache is rested for at least 30 mins to an hour (in a process which PP’s refer to as निरसायला… I’m not sure that word is used by any non PP). Shiryache is usually not served piping hot. The entire flavour and taste of the dish is apparent only when served lukewarm or at room temperature! It needs to be treated delicately even when reheating as it can split if it boils over ruining the texture and look of the dish!

This recipe for tomatochi sheer is simple to prepare, is a lovely colour and has a nice mild flavour. You could even serve this as a soup. Leave the prawns out of this recipe and you have a lovely vegan version. Here’s the recipe (Serves 4) –

Ingredients

  • Ripe Red Tomatoes – 4 large nos (Roughly chopped)
  • Green Chillies – 2 nos (Roughly Chopped)
  • Coriander Leaves – 2 tbsp (washed and chopped)
  • Besan – 1.5 tbsp
  • 1/2 Grated Coconut
  • 1/2 cup peeled, shelled and cleaned prawns
  • 4 cups of water
  • Methi seeds – 1/2 tsp (optional – most traditional recipes would exclude this.. It’s just something that I personally like)
  • Red Chilli Powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
  • A pinch of hing (asafoetida)
  • Oil – 1 tbsp
  • Salt and Sugar for seasoning

1

Method

  • In a heavy bottomed vessel, heat a tbsp of oil. To the heated oil, add a pinch of hing and methi seeds and splutter for a couple of seconds.
  • Add in the tomatoes (set aside a tbsp for garnish), chillies, chilli powder, coriander, turmeric, besan, salt to taste and around 1/2 tsp of sugar.
  • Cook these stirring once in a while on a medium flame and add 1/2 a cup of water. Once this reaches a boil, cover and simmer over a low flame for around 5-7 minutes till the tomatoes are cooked and the besan loses its raw smell.

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  • Remove the lid and cook further for around 5-7 minutes on a medium fame, till most of the liquid evaporates. The idea is to extract the maximum flavour from the tomatoes at this point. You will notice that by now the besan has cooked and thickened this mixture,
  • Once this cools, run the mixture through a blender till smooth. (This step is optional. Many prefer the chunky texture in the final dish. I set aside a few chopped tomatoes and add them in later to get that effect.)
  • I will attempt to explain the process of extraction of shire from the grated coconut. You need to make 2 extracts ( first thick extract known as आपशीरे  and 2nd thin extract which we refer to as पाणशिरे…)
  • In the same blender, add the grated coconut and a cup of lukewarm water. Blend these for a couple of minutes and strain into a bowl. Extract the maximum liquid you can from this grated coconut and water blend into a bowl (this is the आपशीरे) and put the coconut back into the blender.
  • Add 1.5-2 cups of lukewarm water again to the blender and blend the same coconut again for a couple of minutes. Again repeat the process of straining and extracting the liquid from this blend into a separate bowl. This is the thin extract or पाणशिरे.

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  • Alternately, to simplify matters, you could use cans or tetrapacks of coconut milk readily available in stores. I find that these seem to alter the taste a bit but work just fine if you’re short of time or just plain bored.
  • Add the thin extract and the reserved chopped tomatoes and prawns (if using) to the tomato-besan blend and on a medium flame, bring this to a boil stirring continuously. As soon as it starts bubbling gently, reduce the heat and simmer gently for a 3-4 of minutes still stirring the mix. The tomatoes and prawns should be cooked by now.

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  • Add the thick coconut milk extract. Mix well. Continue to simmer  for 2-3 more minutes stirring continuously without allowing the mix to come to a boil. If it boils over, the coconut milk tends to split. If this happens, there is no way I know to rectify the dish (although it just affects the look… the dish still tastes almost the same)
  • Adjust the salt+sugar seasoning. Most PPs generally prefer to add a couple of teaspoons of sugar and have this really sweet.
  • Now take it off the flame and let it cool down till its lukewarm or at room temperature. This resting phase is also important as the flavours get stronger as it cools down.
  • Tomato sheer is best served with a spicy gholiche bhujane (more on this later) and steaming white rice.

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