The Mangalorean Catholic community of India is famed for some delicious meat preparations. Being half Manglorean myself, some of the popular dishes find their way to my dinner table every other week.
The usual suspects—coconut, fiery red chillies, tamarind and curry leaves—are synonymous with coastal food and found in varying proportions and combinations in this cuisine.
In earlier days, the spices were ground on thick, flat, raw granite slabs with a heavy rolling pin made of the same stone. As a child, it seemed like an endless, tiring process to me. But the taste of the masalas (spice pastes) that were slopped off the stone and into a waiting vessel was unmistakable. Every family had a grinding stone and it occupied its own space in the kitchen. They were incredibly heavy and a lot of hard work to use. In some homes, ones that still refuse to give in to blenders, there are women employed specifically to grind masalas that will last the household a week.
This Mangalorean mutton gravy and its aromatic masala brought back memories of the old stone and the how wonderful the air would smell as each spice was pounded on it.
Eat this dish with a slice of bread or plain white rice to soak up the gravy.
About the author: Denise D'silva Sankhe is a writer & creative director by profession. But that's only when she isn't eating her way across India. She recreates this delicious cuisine in her Mumbai home, which she shares with her newly-married husband, who has long since given up his determination to have salads for dinner.