I was gifted with Rare Gems: A Non-Vegetarian Gourmet Collection from Maharashtra-By Aditya Mehendale on March 8th the international women’s day, a cookbook that I wanted on my shelves ever since it released and I saw it in Crossword. Pranay must have noticed me gawking at the appetizing images that this book had and must have decided to present me with a copy of this book.
After reading through all the recipes presented in the book and trying few of them, I must say that this book is indeed a non-vegetarians delight. If you are non-vegetarian food fanatic and get absolutely thrilled at the mere thought of non-vegetarian gourmet recipes that has been hand-picked from every nook and corner of Maharashtra, this book would satiate your culinary fantasies. So I have decided I will be making some of the rare gem recipes from the book that I like the most and would put them on my blog here. I would also make recipe videos so that it would be easier for everyone out there to replicate these Maharashtrian culinary gems in your kitchen. Finally three cheers for Aditya for bringing out such a culinary gem of a book.
Coming from Ratnagiri, one of the districts of the coastal belt of Maharashtra, it is very natural for me scour for sea food recipes first and that is what I did. I was intrigued by a Koli preparation of Kolambi Pulao (Prawns Pilaf). I made it in my kitchen for our Sunday lunch and the recipe turned out to be an instant hit. The secret ingredient (which is no more a secret now) that goes into making this recipe is Koli Masala which is the combination of Indian spices and Garam Masala. I have been asked many times that we use same spices in most of our dishes then how is one recipe so different from the other. This is the beauty of Indian cooking; every Indian state or Indian culture has its own unique Pandora of flavors and ingredients. Masala that we use are our own concoction and they differ significantly from one region to other based upon regional and personal preferences.
As a foodie and a blogger I feel it as my moral obligation to share with my readers the cultural identity of the recipe. As I write about this recipe of Kolambi Pulao which comes from Koli food cuisine, let me share some interesting facts about this humble community. Well to introduce this community I would like to borrow from the Best of the Booker Prize winner “Midnight’s children” written by Salman Rushdie. He writes in his book “The fishermen were here first. Before the East India Company built its Fort…at the dawn of time, when Bombay was a dumbbell-shaped island tapering, at the center, to a narrow shining strand…when Mazgaon and Worli, Matunga and Mahim, Salsette and Colaba were islands, too—in short before reclamation…turned the Seven Isles into a long peninsula, like an outstretched, grasping hand, reaching westwards into the Arabian Sea; in this primeval world before clock towers, the fishermen—who were called Kolis—sailed in Arab dhows, spreading red sails against the setting sun.”
Kolis are the first inhabitants of the today’s Mumbai city. In fact the current name of the city itself comes from name of goddess “Mumba devi”, patron deity of the kolis whose temple stands tall amid the chaotic bustle of Babulnath market in south Mumbai. They are primarily engaged in the fishing and boat building. Koli men go fishing with their trawlers and fishing nets and they stay away from shores for many days in search of good catch. Koli women are the one who get up very early in the morning to buy these fishes from agents and sell it to their customers. From being the natives of the city that were seen all across the city, they have been marginalized and their presence reduced to 43 koliwadas (villages where they stay). They are fun-loving people and if you want to get a firsthand account you must walk inside the fish markets in Mumbai (Bandra, Worli, Mazgaon and many more) where you would see the madness involved. Fisher women’s cheering, quarreling, cursing is the common sight. If you don’t mind getting pushed by these smiling ladies with their smelly fishes you can be a part of this madness. If you want to buy a fresh catch this is the place where you ought to be and remember haggling is a part of the city’s DNA so don’t shy away from arguing on the best price.
- 1 and ½ cup long grain basmati rice. Wash the rice thoroughly and soak it for 30 mins, thereafter strain the water.
- 250 grams large sized prawns cleaned and deveined.
- 1 large sized onion cut into lengths
- 2 small tomatoes pureed
- 1 cup fresh coriander leaves
- 12-15 cloves of garlic
- 2 inches ginger root
- 4 green chilies
- 2 bay leaf
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tbsp garam masala powder
- 1 tbsp koli masala powder
- Cooking Oil
- Make a fine green paste with coriander leaves, green chilies, chopped ginger roots and garlic.
- Heat 3 cup water for 1 and ½ cup rice to a large vessel. Add 2 tsp salt to the water. Add rice to the vessel and cook the rice until it is half done.
- In 3 minutes rice should be half cooked. Now turn off the flame and strain the excess water.
- Spread the rice in a wide plate and let it cool down. This prevents rice grains from breaking and sticking together.
- Add 4 tbsp oil in a large pan. Add bay leaf and chopped onions and fry until onions become tender.
- When onions become tender, add green masala paste and roast it until we get rid of raw smell.
- After 1 and ½ minutes, add tomato puree and roast the mixture for 1 minute.Watch How to blanch Tomatoes in our "How to" section.
- Now add turmeric powder, garam masala powder and koli masala powder and roast the mixture for 3 minutes.
- After 3 minutes, add prawns and salt as per taste.
- Remember we have already added salt while cooking rice.
- Mix the prawns nicely so that it gets coated with masala. Cover and cook the prawns for 4-5 minutes.
- After 4 minutes, prawns become tender. Now spread the rice on top of prawns .
- Create a bed of rice on top of prawns. Cover and cook for 2 minutes on low flame.
- After 2 minutes, turn off the flame and let the Pilaf stay covered. Serve hot.
Enjoy Koli Kolambi Pulao, the authentic delicacy of Koli cuisine with Veg Raita. Share your feedback about this recipe in the comment section below.
Click here to watch recipe video