The Cuisine of India’s Konkan Coast

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We order fried fish and fish curries, as the Konkanis do these so perfectly. Before frying, the fish are generally marinated in a red paste made with special red bedgi chiles that have bright color but medium heat, tamarind juice, garlic, cumin, and coriander, then dipped lightly in semolina and fried. For our curry, we try prawns with green mango, a prawn gassi, Mangalorean-style. Hot with green chiles and tart with the green mango, we devour this with red rice, the fat-grained, partially milled variety for which this coast is so well known. We are in heaven.

We have no room for dessert, but those who do must try the Goan layered cake, bebinca. Built up very slowly, it is really a stack of pancakes traditionally baked over and then under coconut husk embers. A thin batter—coconut milk, egg yolks, and melted jaggery—is poured into a pan to form one pancake. When it is almost done, a second pancake is formed on top of the first, with the heat coming from the top. And so it goes for hours, one patient pancake at a time until there is a whole, almost caramelized, cake. It is one of the many wonders arising from the magical Konkan coast.

Madhur Jaffrey is an award-winning actress, a cookbook author with six James Beard Awards, winner of a journalism award from the IACP, TV chef, and member of the James Beard Hall of Fame.

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