Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Paatthal Bhaaji with Tender Cashewnuts

We GSBs are crazy about Bibbo/Hasi Gerubeeja/ Latth Korant/Tender Cashewnuts. We make different curries with it and also add this to sweet dishes. Now is the high season for tender cashewnuts in the tropical places. Unlike last year and the year before, we could see bumper crop of cashew in the market and price is right, thanks to people of Uttar Kannada District of Karnataka who are good at capturing the market when locals have deviated from the traditional things. Hundred cashewnuts cost just between Rs.100/- to 150/- this time. 

I guess this type of Paatthal Bhaaji originated in Karkala, because I ate this first way back in 1987 when my ex-Bank colleague Bantwal Gopalkrishna Pai's wife who hailed from Karkala packed it in his snack box along with pooris and he shared that with us, three close colleagues. I was totally bowled by the awesome taste of the combo meal and I did ask the good lady the recipe and she revealed it verbally, only for me to forget and lose track of it!

I've been wanting to make this at home but never had the least idea how to make it, whenever I see tender cashewnuts hit the local market stalls every summer. Both Mr. and Mrs. Pai  are no more, and I can't find anyone else making this, whom I can ask for the recipe today! Then I just reminisced over and guessed the ingredients myself and made it today, 28 years after I first tasted it. It turned out perfect, as good as Mrs Pai made it, but I had it with Maida Urad Daal Dosas for brunch. The subtle flavour of cumin seeds, turmeric, onions and ginger blend well with potatoes and cashewnuts to leave a wonderful feeling for those who relish it!

'Paatthal' in Konkani means thin. 'Bhaaji' is obviously a vegetable curry. This is almost like stew they make in Kerala but here some ingredients are different and also, coconut masala is added to the gravy instead of coconut milk. Make this with fresh tender cashewnuts but you can also make it with just potatoes. Best way to relish this is with poori, but chapati, dosa, aapam, idiappam and plain bread also taste good with this. You can also have this as a side dish with rice and rasam.
Bibbo(Tender Cashewnuts) - 100
Potatoes - 2 small
Onion - 1 medium, finely chopped
Green chillies - 3-4 (Check for pungency)
Cumin seeds - 1/2 Tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 Tsp 
Tamarind  - Chickpea size
Grated coconut  - 1 cup(1/2 of 1/2 Coconut)
Coriander leaves - A handful (Optional)
Jaggery powder - 1 Tsp (Optional)
Ginger - 1/2" piece finely chopped 
Salt - 1/2 Tsp or according to taste
Coconut oil - 2 Tsp

Soak bibbo for 2-3 hours at room temperature if fresh, or in hot water for 6-8 hours if dried ones.
Peel and split each cashewnut into 2.
Wash thoroughly, drain and apply little salt.
Cook for 2 minutes at full pressure in a pressure cooker in a bowl, without adding water to the bibbo.
Cook the potatoes in the same pressure cooker adding water in a separate bowl.
Peel the potatoes and chop into small bits, as big as cashewnuts.
Lightly roast the cumin seeds and grind along with grated coconut, turmeric powder, green chillies, tamarind and optional coriander leaves to a fine paste.
Reserve the water used for washing the grinder.
Heat oil in a thick bottomed vessel and fry the chopped onions till transparent.
Add the ground masala paste and fry for 2-3 minutes.
Add the optional jaggery powder, chopped ginger and salt.
Mix well and add water from the grinder.
Adjust thickness of the gravy by adding more water if necessary, bring to a boil.
Now add the boiled potato bits and boil for 2 minutes.
Add the cooked cashewnuts, cover and simmer for 2 minutes and switch off the flame.
Check for salt and serve hot with pooris.

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