” Marwai” is the name given to clam /shell fish in Mangalore, the coastal town in South India, along the Arabian sea,which is my native.Memories of childhood are filled with eating all the sea food delicacies of Mangalore and this preparation tops the list for me.Walking down memory lane,I’m reminded of walking into this fish market filled with brightly dressed fisherwomen with voices whose shrill one cannot miss and as the day wanes,it becomes hoarser, but their smiles stay on as bright as their bindhis.”Akke idae balae,akke idae balle” is all you hear which means,”sister come to me & buy my fish in the local language of Thulu spoken in coastal Karnataka,India.Heaven forbid if you face their wrath,so you move from one basket of fish to another,fixing your eyes only on the basket, lest you upset one seller by going to another.If anybody can dress professionally, it must be them, the fisherwoman of Mangalore,on their job they are dressed to kill…with the brightest of sarees,well powdered faces sporting a big red bindhi which one cannot miss & an equally redder lip, chewing betel nuts with a string of jasmine flowers on a neat bun on their head and the holy sandalwood paste on their forehead,one could easily forget one is in the fish market if it is not for the smell around,talk about dressing professionally for the job,we got to learn a thing or two from them.Then there are these sexy fisherwoman who bring those baskets of fish on their head selling them from door to door at my Grandmom’s quaint village, whose swaying hips, strong biceps( carrying loads of fish on their head with the fish basket) and precariously balanced saree,whose demeanour would change in an instant, dare you refuse the fresh fish they bought just for you.I can almost hear the sound….. like pebbles in a basket , when she brings the clams in loads, in her basket right to my front door & we as kids took turns counting hundreds with her.They were the most loving people I have met and a”fishy” hug is due everytime a child is around & we got loads of them as kids, perhaps why “marwai” is so special,since it was always sealed with a betelnut kiss:).My joy knew no bounds when I spotted these in the Korean market here,though these clams sat frozen in neat packs along the frozen aisles staring sadly at me unlike the cheerful chatty clams/marwai of Mangalore,I still was tempted to give them some warmth in my kitchen.For those of us, who are away from our motherland but who are transported back in time with just a mere touch, smell or sight of things dear to the heart , here is my “Marwai” recipe, it tasted as good as the real ones, inspite of being frozen, afterall the clams don’t know which shore they reach….
Onion- 1 big ( finely sliced)
Tomato- 1 big( finely sliced)
Oil- 3 tbsp
Cinnamon powder- a pinch
Mangalore masala/Chilli powder- 2 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Ginger-garlic paste-1 tsp
Salt- to taste
Coconut gratings- 1-2 tbsp
1.Clean the clams/marwai well, since they have sand in them, by rinsing them in water several times.(Since the frozen ones I bought were already cleaned, I did not have a lot of cleaning to do).Then boil the clams/marwai with a pinch of salt in water which completely soaks them for 10- 15 minutes,they tend to open up while being cooked.
2.Now remove them from the stove & clean them under running water, so that the shell bearing the meat is retained while the other half is disposed,& then set aside.
2.Now in a wok, heat some oil, put cinnamon powder,then add the sliced onions & saute a little till they turn brown.Then add the tomatoes & keep stirring till they turn soft.
3.Now add the chilli powder/mangalore masala and the turmeric powder along with ginger garlic paste,wait for the raw smell to disappear.
4.Then add the cleaned & boiled marwai/clams to this mix & stir them all together,adding salt to taste.One can add a lime juice at this point to allow the marwai to cook in the blended mix.
5.Now add the dessicated/ fresh coconut gratings to this , stir for a few mintes & switch off the heat.
6.Simple delicious marwai/clam sukka/dry stir fry is ready to be savoured with rice & lentil soup or with hot steaming idlis.Enjoy the memories stored in these little shell fish:)with near & dear ones.