Sunday, August 21, 2011
Ok, this is how it all began. On a Saturday night, at a party, a fellow foodie told me about the new hypermarket in town which boasted a fabulous seafood counter. Buying good seafood in Coimbatore has often been a grueling experience for many. The sights and smells at the old fish market in Ukkadam was enough to make many people quit eating seafood. The new market now is a much better place and I see very enthusiastic seafood lovers over the weekends buying fish and other seafood without having to cover their faces for fear of fainting from the bad stench!!! But the new market still calls for a good scrub and shampoo wash after a visit.
On Sunday morning I decided to check out the hypermarket at an early hour since the mall its located in tends to get very crowded on Sundays. I was there bright and early at 9.45am standing before the store entrance which has its shutters down. Yes, they open at 10! Once the store opened I had to walk through the maze of toys, household items and provisions to finally arrive at the fresh food section which comprised of a vegetable and fruit area, seafood and meat counters, cold cut counter and a dairy counter.
The chicken and mutton counter had a few interesting cuts. If you are looking to buy only chicken thigh pieces, chicken mince or mutton rib pieces, its probably good place to go to. The cold cuts section also had beef by the side and might interest a few.
Finally, the seafood counter! Yes, it did look impressive at first sight. It was all that my friend had told me about and more. There were neat piles of fish arranged on ice with labeled cards next to them and a row of lettuce planted in front of them for decoration. The prawns did not look impressive. There was a variety of fishes including Sear, Indian Salmon, different kinds of Pomfret, Karimeen, Grouper, Snapper, Shark and Mullet. What really caught my eye was the bowls of Squid, Octopus and Cuttlefish. I was very tempted to buy some Octopus but I changed my mind once I saw the Seafood Manager open a basket full of mud crabs that were live and fresh. I decided to buy a kilo of the crabs and cook up something for lunch or dinner.
I could select the crabs I wanted and I went for the ones with the largest pincers. The crabs were about 400gms each. I ended up buying 3 which was a just a little more than a kilo. The crabs were cut and cleaned right in front of my eyes behind a glass counter. The glass counter is a good idea since nothing really splashes on you while they are cutting and it saves you the shampoo wash which is otherwise mandatory after a visit to the new fish market.
On my way home I was trying to decide if I should cook the Singapore Black Pepper Crab or a Mangalorean recipe from a Sanjeev Kapoor cook book. Since I did not get to eat the Crab Masala Fry at the Kudla Restaurant in Bangalore on a recent visit, I decided to satisfy my craving for a good Mangalorean crab masala and decided to go for the Crab Sukhe.
Although the crab masala I cooked was not as mind-blowing as the one from the one at Kudla, it would come a close second in a competition. I loved the taste of the masala but I must admit that the texture of the crab meat as such was a little disappointing given that the crab was really fresh. I need to figure out if there is a particular season to buy these crabs or alter the cooking technique to get a better texture of the crab meat.
1 kg, Crabs cut in to about 4 pieces each
3 tbsp, Oil
3 large Onions, sliced thinly
1" piece Ginger, sliced thinly
12 cloves of Garlic, sliced thinly
4 red Chillies (I used 10 Bedgi red chillies, they are less hot and give a rich colour)
1 cup, grated Coconut
1/2 tsp, Mustard seeds
2 sprigs, Curry leaves
1/2 tsp, Turmeric powder
1 tsp, Malvani Masala powder
1 lime sized Tamarind ball soaked in 1/3 cup water and starined
1 cup Water
Salt to taste
1/4 cup, Coriander leaves chopped
In a pan heat about 1 tbsp of oil and add the sliced onions, ginger, garlic and grated coconut and saute on medium flame until it turns a light golden brown. This will take about 12 to 15 minutes. Add the red chillies and saute for about 2 minutes before it turns light golden brown. Grind this mixture to a fine paste. The consistency should be as thick as possible and save the wash water from grinding.
Heat the remaining oil in a pan and the mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds crackle, add a sprig of the curry leaves followed by the ground masala paste. Saute this mixture for about minutes adding the wash water in intervals. Now add the turmeric powder, Malvani masala powder and the tamarind puree and saute for a further 2 minutes. Add the crab pieces along with the water and salt and let it simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. The gravy will thicken in the cooking process. Once the crabs are cooked and the gravy has reached the desired consistency, remove from flame and garnish with the remaining curry leaves and shopped coriander leaves. Serve hot with appams or plain rice.
It can be a messy affair eating this dish but its worth all the effort and the mess!!!!!!