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MUSSELS CURRY & FRY (Neeli Hinga Udda, Phanna Upkari)

We made this curry on the previous day of Deepavali. The technique is the same as previously described for prawn. However the addition of fresh mussels totally alters the flavor, and the resulting dish is extremely tasty.

Also, I have added the recipe of two other dishes, Phanna Upkari (bit spicy) and Rawa Fry. These are authentic GSB specialities, especially the hinga udda curry is something like a hallmark dish of Konkanis. I learnt all three from my Aunt who's nothing short of a master-chef, and shall briefly outline the technique here.

PRELIMS: The de-shelling and cleaning is the bit that takes the maximum time and energy. The gross appearance can be very off-putting for the uninitiated, and can prompt you to just throw it away. The shells are closed tight, and are attached to sea rocks via weeds, which extend deep into the shell to attach to the fleshy portion. I was reminded of Davy Jones'  grotesque crew from the Flying Dutchman.

Initially, just soak the whole shells in water with salt for about an hour. Try clearing as much weed as possible, and then cook on low flame in water and salt. Once it comes to a boil, cover and heat on low flame, till the shells open up. At this stage, there'll be a distinct smell that tells you it's done. Wait for it to cool, and then slowly de-shell the mussels. Pull out the weed carefully too. The lower part on the smooth surface needs to cleared off as well, since it's full of black matter (don't want to imagine or know what that is). After de-shelling, rinse thoroughly with water to get rid of traces of sand, else the curry will be grainy and difficult to relish.

What you need: Coconut (1), Chillies (small, about 25-28), Tamarind, Hing/Asafoetida, Coconut oil (1 spoon)

Masala (gravy): Grated coconut + a small sized chunk of tamarind + chillies = Finely ground masala
[This is a measure for about 100 medium sized mussels]

Heat the cleaned mussels with a little water and salt for 2-3 minutes, and then add the masala. Bring to a boil and heat for sometime on a low flame. Since the mussels have already been boiled, it won't take much long. Once the curry starts bubbling on low flame, add hing water (asafoetida; again, more than what one would consider "normal"). Stir for a while, add a spoon of coconut oil, cover the vessel and heat for a minute. That's it. 
The aroma that emanates when you open the vessel for lunch will leave you drooling. Best had with steaming hot par-boiled rice (the redder, the better) and curd.

(Phanna = Tadka)

What you need: Chilly Powder (1-2 teaspoons, depends on how spicy you want it to be), Hing water (2-3 teaspoons, thick), Tamarind water (3 teaspoons, thick), mustard seeds (1 teaspoon), pinch of turmeric, salt, coconut oil, Curry leaves (optional)

Method: Heat oil in a pan, add the mustard seeds and roast till the splutter fully stops, then add the curry leaves. Now add the required amount of chilly powder, and roast on low flame, for about half a minute. Be very careful at this stage as it can just char and turn black. Next, add the tamarind water, and the hing water. Mix lightly. Add the salt. The masala should now be spicy and tangy.

Now add the cleaned mussels, and mix well. The mussels have to be very dry. If required, you can sprinkle some water to prevent charring. Cook on a low flame, till the masala is spread uniformly all over. You needn't cook for a very long time as the mussels have already been cooked. Finally, the color should be dark brown to black, owing to the hue lent by the tamarind. 


What you need: Chilly powder, Rice Flour, Turmeric powder, Hing powder/water, Tamarind, salt

Masala: 2 spoons of chilly powder + 3/4 spoon of rice flour + pinch of turmeric + 4 spoons of hing (asafoetida) water or hing powder + tamarind water/juice of one lemon + salt.
Add the required amount of water, and make a thick, smooth paste.

Marinate the mussels with this paste and set aside for about an hour. Deep fry after that. 

The Final Outcome


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