Monday, June 16, 2014

Goan delicacies Sweet and sour memories…Grandmother knew best

There was something that our grandmothers knew…which slowly will die a natural death. Natural because nature has bestowed on our small state a bountiful harvest which the Gen Next today are not even aware of. So here is a secret shared about something sweet, originally sour at times bitter - the Karmaleanche Goadtik lonche (Kormola (starfruit) chutney/pickle) a Saraswat preparation which was relished as a breakfast accompaniment with polle and perhaps chapattis; today it has vanished from our culinary repertoire.

 Meet Amita Salatry author/TV personality who is determined to keep those recipes alive. But would the Gen Next appreciate those preparations? We were soon to find out with the arrival of Nischita Pednekar a MCA student from Don Bosco and Sai Dhekne a young Asst Professor.

Have you heard of the Karmaleanche lonche? Yes, they did… but they do not eat it at home. Why? First of all It is not easily available (the fruit or the final product), secondly there is not much knowledge about the preparation. So seated in our hosts dining hall with the preparation in front of us the history of the past unfolds. Says Amita as she spreads the ‘lonche’ on the chapatti for her guests ‘a hundred years back nature gave us a variety of seasonal preserves which our grandmothers would pickle for day to day use.’ We hear how throughout the year the trees in the garden would give bimbli, ambade(hog plum), raajaavalla (amla), karmola (starfruit)…a variety of fruit which was pickled and stored. They would have this ‘lonche’ with polle (made of ukhdeache tandull) for breakfast. 

The karmaleanche lonche was cooked over ‘slow’ heat in a special thick bottom metal degchi’s with the help of a halvyache daaul (long handled wooden spoon) as the liquid splattered during the cooking process. ‘Our grandmothers would often use the green fruit (slightly bitter overtones) and cut them into dices,’ Amita says. ‘They would also use green chilies cut into pieces and half the quantity of red chili powder that we use today’. Today with refrigeration the lonche can be preserved for over two years we are informed. Which brings us to an important point ‘what do you have for breakfast today?’ I ask the Gen Next, “mango jam with polle…the polle is still prepared at home; we even make shepuche (dill) polle’’ was the response.

So what could be the reason that this preparation is slowly dying out? ‘It takes about an hour and a half for preparation’ says Amita. What about the tree? With small gardens today would it be possible to grow it? ‘The tree is a low maintenance one,’ she explains, ‘needs little space, no manure and very little water. And moreover the yield is twice a year. The 3/4th ripened fruit are used for the preparation, and we will always use Shankar brand rock type hing.’ ‘It would nice if this ‘lonche’ is served at wedding meals, it would create awareness amongst everyone,’ murmured the Gen Next, ‘better than using ordinary jam as jaggery is much healthier than the sugar used.’

Wise words indeed….our culinary legacy was variety, taste as well as health. As we listen to Amita regarding the way this ‘lonche’ is made we also learn that she uses it for uddamethi too. Rather than mother knows best…our grandmothers knew better too.

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