I am not a Maharashtrian girl, but I settled in Mumbai only after my marriage. Although I don’t always like the Maharashtrian way of cooking seafood, I love anything cooked with Vatan, which is a delicious, aromatic masala comprising roasted coconut, roasted onion, salt and a tiny bit of oil. But that’s not where it will end, for this alone doesn’t complete the taste so associated with Vatan. This rustic Vatan has two friends, who always help in bringing out its flavours.
If you happen to eat in any of the Konkani Food joints, you’ll notice a typical taste. If you try to decode, you probably will be able to tell most of the things. But there always will be that mystery element in taste which you will not be able to detect. I’ll tell you what it is.
1) Ola Khobra: Fresh coconut paste
2) Til: Sesame seeds, soaked and ground into a paste
I took years to figure out these two things, and these two elements (along with the Vatan) are responsible to give that extra body and smokey taste to typical Konkani non-vegetarian food. There is also a set formula that you can use while cooking with Vatan.
Wok + hot oil + chopped onions. Brown it.
Add whatever you want to add. Really, whatever! Add chili powder, garam masala and turmeric.
Add Vatan and cook for 5 min
Add the sesame-seed paste and freshly ground coconut. Cook for another 5 min and now you are done!
Time taken: 15 min
Taste-o-meter: Slightly spicy
- Onion, coarsely chopped: 1 cup
- Coconut, sliced: 1 cup
- If you are using ready powdered coconut instead of sliced coconut: 1.5 cup
- Oil: 1 tsp
- Red chilli: 1
- Roast the coconut until you get a golden brown colour. Keep aside.
- Roast the onion on a low flame, till fragrant. Make sure not to make it burn. Now add a spoon of oil and brown, making sure that it doesn’t burn. Cool.
- In a grinder, add salt, coconut, onion and 2 tsp water. Grind to a fine paste.
- This can be stored upto a month in freezer and seven days in the refrigerator.
- Cook like a Marathi Manus and enjoy the vast Indian cuisine!