Food always stirs memories, good ones coz’ I have shared food amidst laughter and fun be it friends or family, there is always joy around the dining table and oodles of laughter too. Summer vacations as a kid meant visiting grand moms at our native, a coastal village bursting with seafood fresh off the boat literally.
It was a treat we gave ourselves coz where I grew up, was inland, we had to go “to market, to market” to buy fish which probably had travelled from the coastal land overnight to inlands, they looked tired, their sheen a little dull and tasted a little different than the ones who trotted into our curry bowls fresh off the fisherman’s nets.
Both my grand moms were exceptional cooks, neither one carried a measuring spoon I can remember, yet the aroma of what they cooked seemed to float along the entire farmland surrounding their home. Needless to say the grandkids did complete justice to the food, the signs of which are still showing.
The mussel meat was a particular favorite of mine, not sure if it was digging the meat out of the shell which tickled my curiosity as a kid or the taste itself, but having rice porridge and mussel meat (“marvai sukka”)and watching the rain outside is still among the best memories I have of my childhood holidays. For reasons we did not understand then, the emptied shells were scattered around the coconut palms around the home, me thinks, it was to serve as a manure for the trees. We hopped around those shells while playing hide and seek, I can still feel those little bumpy shells under my feet as we skipped along with joy around those trees lining the ancestral home.
Years later, taking late night drives with friends along the seaside just to go and taste that spicy mussel stir fry, or an exquisite crab meat in those little shacks along the beach which was filled with students like us, who were sick of dormitory food and wanted to taste that bit of spice from memories past became more of a ritual on weekends.
We had sea food over laughter and tears somehow the salt from the sea wiped it all down pretty well and when we returned to our dormitories we were as happy as happy can be. So yes mussel meat has memories of childhood and youth, can’t let that go away in adulthood can we ? So here I was stirring the mussel meat listening to one old melodic song over another, just like the way I remember it, somehow the lyrics coated the mussels with their own flavor. Sharing the joy 🙂
Mussel meat – 1 tray(frozen containing 40-50 mussels)
Onion – 1 large ( finely chopped)
Garlic – 3-4 cloves ( finely chopped )
Curry Leaves – a few
Coconut (fresh or desiccated flakes ) – 3 to 4 tbsp
Chilli Powder – 1 1/2 tsp
Turmeric Powder – 1/4 tsp
Black Pepper Powder – 1 tbsp
Garam Masala – 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Coconut Oil – 1 tbsp
- In a thick bottomed vessel warm the coconut oil, to this add the finely sliced garlic and saute a bit, when the aroma fills the air, add in the sliced onions along with a few curry leaves. Saute, till the onion becomes translucent & turns a golden brown.
- Now add the turmeric powder, chili powder, garam masala & black pepper powder and mix them well along with the garlic & onion mix.
- Now add the cleaned mussel meat to the above mix along with salt to taste and let it cook in it’s own steam for 5-10 minutes. Do not overcook, as they turn rubbery, it should be just right, juicy and soft !
- When most of the water is evaporated, add in the coconut flakes, stir it gently and remove from flame & set aside.
- Serve it with pulao or a mildly spiced curry and brown rice.