How to make Marwai/Clam Sukka (The Mangalorean way) ?

How to make Mangalorean Marwai/Clam Sukka?

What is Mangalorean Marwai Sukka?

Marwai/Clam Sukka : Marwai Sukka is deliciously flavored Mangalorean seafood recipe made with marwai/clams. The clams/marwai are coated with spices and sautéed in onions and generously sprinkled with fresh coconut grating that are abundantly available from the coconut palms of the land. This authentic dish, the Marwai sukka carries the scent, flavors & the salty taste of the sea.

Marwai is the Tulu name given to the seafood variety of clam or mussels. When marwai or clams are used in a dry preparation which is an authentic Mangalorean diish & seafood delicacy, then the dish is called Marwai Sukka.

If you are wanting to learn more about the Indian spices that go well with seafood and how to use them in your delicious cooking, you can find all about it in my E-book, “A Complete Beginner’s guide to Indian Spices” by clicking here or on the picture below.

What is Sukka?

Sukka is a Tulu word, the South Indian language native to the coastal city of Mangalore of which I am a native of. Sukka is the name given to any dry preparation of chicken or seafood, which is deliciously spiced and generously sprinkled with fresh coconut grating.

How to make Marwai/Clam Sukka (The Mangalorean way) ?
How to make Marwai/Clam Sukka (The Mangalorean way) ?

Where is Mangalore?

Mangalore, officially known as Mangaluru, is the chief port city of the Indian state of Karnataka. It is located about 352 km (219 mi) west of the state capital Bangalore, between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats mountain range.

What is Mangalorean cuisine?

Mangalorean cuisine is largely influenced by the South Indian cuisine, with several cuisines being unique to the diverse communities of the region.

Since Mangalore is a coastal city, fish and seafood forms the staple diet of most people

How Marwai /Clam Sukka came to be?

A flashback down memory lane

Childhood memories are filled with traveling to my grandparents home in Mangalore for every summer break. The seafood, the laughter of cousins and friends, the love of our grand moms, amazing adventures in nature, fun family events, celebrations of all kinds clouds my vision when I think of Mangalore, fondly called “Kudla” in the local language.

Scenes from the fish market

Sealed in my memory are also memories of walking to the fish market with an elder in the family and for the first time witnessing what bartering for fish was all about. You got to be good in your game on either side of the fence to bring the best fish home. The fisherwomen with their heartwarming betel nut coated smile sporting a red bindhi, a string of jasmine flowers and brightly colored sarees are fierce, when it comes to their warmth & their sales pitch.

The more you visit the fish market, the better you get at recognizing and acknowledging the”best deal of the day” pitch.You will be a skilled seafood shopper in no time. Being a coastal town/city, one has a wide range of fresh fish to choose from, so your taste buds if you are a seafood lover, will savor and live to tell the tales, much after you have moved out of the city.

Akke Idaebalae, Akke Idaebalae” (sister, come to me & buy my fish) is the something you would hear over & over again as you enter the fresh seafood and fish market. A word of warning, keep your eyes down cast & focussed on the baskets of fish. Heaven forbid if you make eye contact and then decide to move on to another fish monger……be prepared for the wrath of the fisherwomen of the sea. She’d put a sailor to shame with her flowery language!

Fisherwoman at the fish market
Photo courtesy : The net

The door delivery

Both my grand moms lived in villages on the outskirts of the city. Door delivery of the freshly caught fish & seafood by the fisherwoman was a common occurrence. Since the fisherwomen stopped by everyday, they almost felt like part of the family. When we grandkids arrived in batches to visit our grand mom in summer ,a fishy hug and a betel nut kiss on the cheek, was guaranteed.

The memory of these fisherwomen dressed to kill will forever remain in my “fashionista trends to remember”.Swaying her hips, with the basket full of fish on her head with the pebbly sound of the clams clicking in her basket, the fisherwoman would sport a saree and sexily walk down the roads like she was on a catwalk….such grace & poise in precariously balancing the basket and the saree at the same time, while holding a friendly conversation with everyone who passed by on the quaint village roads.

The one, I remember from my childhood would come to our doorstep each day, lay her fish basket closer to the doorway of the ancestral home and before she starts her sales pitch would stop to hug each of us grandkids. There was such warmth & love in that hug, perhaps why I love seafood to this day. It was packed with affection.There is something about seafood, be it the ones who brought it for us or the one who cooked them fondly for us, their heart was in it.

The traditional attire of a fisherwoman
Picture courtesy : The Net

We took great joy as kids in counting those clams in hundreds.I still remember the sweet sound of counting clams, like pebbles in a basket, so we could have our share in the evening meal with Ganji ( rice porridge) and fresh Marwai /Clam Sukka .The empty shells were strewn around the coconut palms as fertilizer. Many a day when we played hide and seek behind those coconut palms as kids, the shells would tickle our bare feet, reminding us that wherever we go, we would always be the daughters & sons of the sea.

My love for seafood continues to this day…..

Oceans away from my motherland, nowhere closer to the coast, here I am cooking the clams/marwai I brought home from the Korean market in my cold kitchen, . Watching over my shoulders are the spirits of my ancestors from whom I learnt the love of seafood, the betel nut kiss from the fisherwoman still feels so real , while I stir in the spices on to the marwai/clams . Some memories are like that and so are some seafood!

For those of us, who are far away from our motherland yet transported back each either by the smell, touch or sight of seafood here is my favorite seafood recipe of all times, The Marwai/Clam Sukka.Enjoy!

How to make Marwai/Clam Sukka?

How to make Mangalorean Marwai/Clam Sukka?

How to make Mangalorean Marwai/Clam Sukka?

Recipe by Maya Shetty
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Prep time


Cooking time




Total time




  • 25 -30 Marwai /Clams medium sized ones

  • 1 Onion Big- finely sliced

  • 1 Tomato Big – cubed

  • 3 tbsp Coconut Oil

  • A pinch Cinnamon powder

  • 2 tsp Red Chili powder (or Mangalore Thaal powder0

  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder

  • 1 Ginger Garlic paste

  • To taste Salt

  • 3 tbsp Fresh Coconut gratings can add half a cup if you enjoy the taste of coconuts

  • 1 tbsp Lemon juice


  • 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).
  • Next boil the clams/marwai with a pinch of salt in water /or in a steamer. Soak them completely for 10- 15 minutes, while boiling them .They tend to open up while being cooked.
  • Now remove them from the stove top & clean them under running water, so that the shell bearing the meat is retained while the other half is disposed & set them aside.
  • Now in a wok, heat some coconut oil, put cinnamon powder, add the sliced onions & saute a little till the onions turn golden brown.To this now, add the tomatoes & keep stirring till they turn soft and mushy.
  • Now add the chili powder/Mangalore Thaal powder and the turmeric powder along with ginger garlic paste. Wait for the raw smell to disappear.
  • 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.
  • Now add the dessicated/ fresh coconut gratings to the above , stir for a few minutes & switch off the flame.
  • Simple delicious marwai/clam sukka/dry stir fry is ready to be savored with rice & lentil soup or with hot steaming idlis.

Nutrition Facts

4 servings per container

  • Amount Per ServingCalories110
  • % Daily Value *
  • Total Fat 11g 17%
    • Saturated Fat 9g 45%
  • Sodium 25mg 2%
  • Potassium 139mg 4%
  • Total Carbohydrate 5g 2%
    • Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
    • Sugars 2g
  • Protein 1g 2%

  • Vitamin A 13%
  • Vitamin C 10%
  • Calcium 1%
  • Iron 6%

* The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Winter is the best time for seafood. Go on try out some recipes with mussel meat, they are filled protein and are super delicious !

Sharing below , my previously published and top listed sought out recipes using mussel meat, for your interest :

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