There is this comfort in the 'old' and the 'passed down'. Ok, not clothes and stuff but recipes, heirlooms, old wood furniture.. stuff like that.
There is that sense of treasure and also of family; the feeling of love and yes, the spirit of all those people who passed it along lovingly to you. It's like being wrapped up in a warm blanket, feeling all fuzzy and happy.
I did not explicitly ask my mother for her recipes. But, the food I make is significantly inspired by my mom's cooking, which, in turn drew hugely from my grand mom's and so on. So, albeit indirect, the flavors of my kitchen, today, have been passed down through the generations and it just makes such a wonderful bond; A way to remember those who have left us, except in memories, and feel close to those who live too far away to pop in for dinner.
Along the way, as it gets passed down, each recipe is so subtly modified by that generation's likes and tastes as each home chef adds her own personality to that treasured family recipe. And, surely, she is eager to as well! :)
The crab curry that I make is no exception. I simply love crabs and fresh ones are always the best. And the hub; he loves the crabs (not so much the work involved) but he loves the curry even more! :-) Every time I go to Chinatown (get all my seafood from there), I get some to make this curry that brings back memories of home, the smell of the salty air and sea and the lazy, indulgent Sunday afternoons.
The first time I saw live crabs sitting in a bucket in the store, I swooned.... under the waves of nostalgia. I had to make that curry. And, I did. It was too late to call my mom in India, so I just made the curry from memories and what my palate said would taste like mom's (Read that post here).
Since then, I have made the curry many times! And, over the course of time, modified it and added my own personality; subtly but makes it distinctly mine. The next generation will now get the same vintage flavors but with the twist of the new millennium! :)
Have a great week ahead!
Before you go, I just wanted to tell you that I am thrilled that Foodie Views is featuring my crab curry!!!! Please do check out their delicious photos and also while, you are there, a vote for me would be really nice! :D
To check out my other photos of Foodie Views, link here...
6 medium crabs, cleaned
2 medium onions
3 cloves of garlic
nice chunk of ginger
3-4 ripe tomatoes
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup fresh grated coconuts
2 cups water
2 bay leaves, dry
2 tsp split gram, urad dal
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp whole mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp tumeric powder
6-7 fresh curry leaves
1 lime sized ball of fresh tamarind, or 5 T tamarind paste
For the dry roast:
6 dry red kashmiri chilies (these are of medium heat and give a wonderful red color)
2 dry hot chillies
1 T coriander seeds
1 T cumin seeds
1 stick of cinnamon
2 star anise
4 whole peppercorns
salt and oil as needed
Toast all the dry roast spices till they release their aromas; this intensifies their flavors. Remove to a bowl and cool. In a heavy bottomed pan, saute the onions, garlic, ginger and tomatoes in a little oil until soft and almost cooked through. Cool and process along with the roasted spices to a fine paste. Do not add water, there should enough moisture from the tomatoes.
In the same pan, add more oil and toast the split gram, mustard and cumin seeds till the mustard starts popping. Add the fennel seeds, curry leaves and bay leaves. Roast for a minute and then add the onion mixture. Cook until the oil seperates from the mixtures and there is no raw smell. Add the tumeric and mix well.
Note: Do not let the fennel burn or toast for too long. They can render a very bitter taste!
Meanwhile, if you are using fresh tamarind, soak in half cup of warm water and squueze out all the juice. Stir in the fresh grated coconut, coconut milk and water and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Stir in the tamarind juice. Cook for 10 minutes. Add the crabs (body, legs and pincers). Cover and cook for another 20 minutes.
Let the curry sit for atleast a few hours (preferrably overnight) before serving. The crabs absorb the flavor from the curry and the curry itself will taste distinctly of crab; of the sea with a hint of the sweet crab meat.