Some of my trips to the local fish market end up on a delightful note - when I find some of my favourite kinds of seafood. Since I don't eat Prawns and Crabs (I know it's awful, but im allergic to them), I freak out and break into a song and dance (Hindi movie style) whenever I find Clams (Cockles/Marwai/Kube/Theesriya) and Squid (Bonddas). Clams are a rare find most of the time and when I do find them I either make Kube Mutli
(Clams with mini rice dumplings) or Sukhe (dry masala). So far I had only tried making the Sukhe with regular Bafat Powder
, grated coconut and fried onions - in a jiffy. But this time I thought I should try a ground masala and also add a bit of rice powder to give that thick texture to the masala.
When I was little my mum used to bring Clams a lot more often than I bring now, maybe because it was available more often. All kinds of fish were available in plenty in Mangalore, now I hear people complaining that everything gets exported and what remains for the locals is poor quality stuff sold at exorbitant prices. That way, in Bombay there is no dearth of fish. Being a coast itself, we get to enjoy fish from our coast as well as from Gujarat, Goa, Mangalore & Chennai. But then we pay through our nose here too. Somehow I have forgotten the knack of haggling for fish prices with the fiesty fisherwomen. Here they are not as ferocious as the ones back home, but they know which customers to fleece from their alien accents - I am no exception.
Being a Mangalorean, I would often have gender mix ups and all that pure Hindi taught to me in school went down the drains as 'shuddh' (pure) Hindi is as easily recognized as a South Indian herself. Oh Blimey! "Isko mein nahi sau rupiya detha hai" would mean I'd get the fish only for double the price! Anyway, after surviving those initial years I have managed to pick up some quality Bambaiyya (local slang) and manage to find some good catch at reasonable prices.
My friend tells me that I can pick up the freshest of the fresh catch at the dock at 3pm daily at the cheapest prices, before it is auctioned to the fisherwomen. I am planning to arm myself with a few hundred bags and bring the season's bounty before Monsoons completely take over and fishing boats are no longer able to venture out into the dangerous waters. For now, its Kube Sukhe, Clams in a masala of ground spices - fragrant, spicy and delicious!
For the masala:
For the tempering (bagar/fon/tadka):
- 5-5 long dry red chillies
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 5 peppercorns
- 1 medium size onion
- 1 small ball of tamarind or 1/2 tsp tamarind pulp
- 1/2 tsp mustard
- 4 cloves garlic crushed
- 2 level tsp roasted & coarsely powdered rice
- 1 tbsp oil
1. Clean the clams in sufficient water and remove 1 shell of each clam & discard. Retain the flesh in only one shell.
2. Grind all the ingredients mentioned in the 'For the masala' section to a fine paste
3. In a pan heat some oil and toss in crushed garlic and fry till they turn slightly golden. Add the mustard. When they splutter add the roasted rice powder and fry some more.
4. Add the ground masala and fry on slow fire, add the grated coconut and cook for 5 minutes. Add a little water if required (to avoid the masala from burning)
5. Add the clams and a little salt to taste (clams can be a little salty). Taste & add more if required.
6. Cook until the clams are done (the flesh is no longer mushy but turns a bit firm - but should not shrink too much).
7. Serve hot with rice
1. If the clams you have purchased are tightly clamped up and refuse to open - place them in the deep freezer for about 2 hours, remove and place them at room temperature with the bowl filled with water. They will open up automatically within 30-40minutes
2. If you live in a city and purchase clams from an unknown source, its better to open them first and thoroughly clean them before boiling them.