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So I am back. I was on a soul-recharging trip to India for a few weeks and while I had made grand plans of blogging from there, who’re we kidding?! I was so busy meeting people and travelling and eating that I did not even once think of posting. I did however make a couple of my recipes for my family – they’re an awfully suspicious lot, very hard to fool and wouldn’t take the blog on its face value. Prove that you actually can make all these things, they said, and I had no choice but to establish my credibility. Thankfully, my mom as well as my mom-in-law were on personal missions of their own – namely, to fatten up Tanmoy and me on a year’s worth of delicacies and I only entered the kitchen a handful of times.

 

Now that I am back in Canada, it all seems like a wonderful dream and (at least) another year of cooking my own meals stretches before me. Sigh. Not willing to let go of home so soon though, I am still cooking recipes from home. The Nariyal Koftas I am sharing with you today are my Granny’s speciality. She handed the recipe down to my mother and it came to me from her. I have never eaten this particular curry anywhere but at home. Legend has it that it was a secret recipe, so secret in fact that Granny’s own children were not aware of it. It was reserved for more special people – her sons-in-law! (This much at least is no secret – sons-in-law always trump daughters!)

A quick genealogical discourse is called for at this point, before I embark on the story** of how this carefully guarded secret was finally revealed to the world. My mother is the third of seven siblings. She is followed by four brothers and herself follows two older sisters, who are the protagonists in this story and who we will call M and V for brevity’s sake. Once upon a time when M, the eldest, was visiting Granny with her husband, V was also home from college. When the Nariyal Koftas were served for dinner, V loved them, and was very surprised for she had never had these before and remarked to such effect. Before Granny could cover up by saying that it was a newly learned recipe, my uncle, M’s husband exclaimed ‘Really? Oh but your mother has made these for me a few times before!’.  At that point, M disclosed that she had also eaten this dish only after she had gotten married and visited Granny with her husband. It was immediately clear to all present (except M’s husband) that the recipe had been considered too special for them, and they had been deemed undeserving of it on account of not being related by marriage but only by blood. On learning of this injustice, V vowed that the recipe would no longer remain a secret and the whole family would enjoy it, and they all lived happily ever after. These koftas have since then been called ‘Javai Rassa‘ (literally – son-in-law’s curry) in my family to constantly remind everyone of its secret history.

** This narrative is a dramatization of events as recounted to me by my mother and I request my aunts M or V to take up any objections directly with her. Also, my Granny was really one of the sweetest people I have ever known, so don’t let this post mislead you into thinking otherwise.

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Prep-time : 45 minutes
Makes : 18-20 Koftas

WHAT YOU NEED:

300 gms Coconut, grated
3-4 heaped tbsp Besan/Chickpea Flour
1 cup coriander, finely chopped
4 large Tomatoes
1 medium sized Onion, grated or pureed
1 tbsp Ginger, grated
Red Chilly Powder, to taste
2 tsp Jeera/Cumin Powder
2 tsp Dhania/Coriander Powder
1/2 tsp Sugar
Oil for deep frying
Salt to taste

WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Fill three quarters of a medium sized pot with water, place the tomatoes in it and set it on medium heat to boil till the tomatoes are soft, about 8-10 minutes.
  2. On the side, mix together the grated coconut, besan, chopped coriander, salt and red chilly powder to taste and form small balls, about an inch and a half in diameter. Use both hands to make the balls, packing them firmly.
  3. When the tomatoes are done, remove them from the water and let cool. Preserve the water for later use.
  4. In a deep frying pan, heat oil on medium heat. When sufficiently hot, lower the heat somewhat and gently place the coconut balls in the oil. Do not crowd the pan. Work in batches if necessary.
  5. Fry on low heat, turning frequently until golden brown. Remove on to a plate lined with paper napkins, once done.
  6. When the tomatoes have cooled sufficiently, peel off their skins and run them through a blender to puree.
  7. Remove excess oil from frying pan, leaving only a couple of tablespoons in. Saute the pureed onion for 3-4 minutes, then add the ginger and mix.
  8. Add the jeera powder and dhania powder, mix well, and after a couple of minutes, pour in the tomato puree. Stir well and cover. Let simmer for 5 minutes.
  9. Mix in red chilly powder to taste, sugar and some water that was saved from boiling the tomatoes to get the gravy to the desired consistency and let it cook for a few minutes.
  10. Add the fried koftas to the curry before serving, reheat for a few minutes and serve.

MY NOTES:

If using frozen grated coconut, thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature before use.

The besan is used here as a binding agent and the amount needed might vary. Start with 3 tbsp and gradually add more while mixing with your hands, judging by how well the mixture holds together.

Be careful while frying the koftas, they are delicate and will crumble if handled roughly.

The onion can be omitted all-together and the curry still tastes amazing. That works especially well for religious occasions when onion and garlic are not to be used.

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