Thursday, December 27, 2007

Remembering Chef Fernando

Chef Fernando on the djembe drum on stage at Fernando's Nostalgia Rest in Peace
Chef Fernando was my Goan cuisine mentor. I studied and worked at Fernando's Nostalgia this time last year in the village of Raia. Chef Fernando loved traditional Goan cuisine and culture. He had worked in hotels and fancy restaurants cooking Indian, Portuguese, and "continental cuisine" (lovingly referred to as "Conti" in India) around the world. He was famous for his extravagant buffets. During my stay at Nostalgia, he often reminded me that we were "hard core"... and I new what he meant. After all of his years as a chef, he decided to return to his roots and cook traditional Goan cuisine from scratch. Slow food. All spice blends, masalas, doughs, stocks, everything from scratch. Check out this video I took of the kitchen at Nostalgia, to see how much work is involved in putting together one of Fernando's famous banquet feasts. You will see cooking out back, steaming sannas over a coconut shell fire, veg prep, peeling shrimp, then a trip through the bakery, into the pantry where canapes are being prepared, then into the kitchen where uncle is frying fish and auntie is grinding masalas.
Nostalgia Kitchen part I

Nostalgia Kitchen part II

As you see from the video, Chef Fernando orchestrated amazing banquet buffets in an unconventional style, using tradition and ingenuity to create unique events. Harry Partch was a ringleader with a similar vision. He worked outside of the box to create sounds and theater. Chef Fernando created flavors and drama through the culinary arts.
Tune: Visions Fill The Eyes Of A Defeated Basketball Team In The Shower Room from Bewitched composed by Harry Partch performed by the University of Illinois Musical Ensemble and conducted by John Garvey.

"The Bewitched is in the tradition of world-wide ritual theatre. It is the opposite of specialized. I conceived and wrote it in California in the period 1952-55, following the several performances of my version of Sophocles' Oedipus. In spirit, if not wholly in content, it is a satyr-play. It is a seeking for release--through satire, whimsy, magic, ribaldry--from the catharsis of tragedy. It is an essay toward a miraculous abeyance of civilized rigidity, in the feeling that the modern spirit might thereby find some ancient and magical sense of rebirth. Each of the 12 scenes is a theatrical unfolding of nakedness, a psychological strip-tease, or--a diametric reversal, which has the effect of underlining the complementary character, the strange affinity, of seeming opposites." --Harry Partch

Chef Fernando became known as the top chef in all of Goa for traditional regional cuisine, made the old fashioned way. He was generous enough to share with me many of his famous recipes. Ambot Tik, Sannas, Cafreal, Rechaud, Balchao, Sorpatel, Xacuti, Goan Fish Curry, Goan Prawn Curry..... I also had the opportunity to work in his bakery which was a seperate building behind the main house of Nostalgia, under a mango tree, beside a fig tree, next to where the ducks, geese, and chickens used to chill. The desserts were elaborate. Mostly Goan pastries with strong Portugese roots like Dedos de Dama, Creme Caramel, and Sans Rival. Fernando loved music. Nostalgia is a true Soul Cocina.
Bilimbi growing on a tree along the back of Fernando's Nostalgia. Notice Fernando's cat on the roof in the picture below.

Bilimbi was a favorite ingredient of Chef Fernando. When I first met Chef Fernando, he invited me to share a meal and a drink with him in Nostalgia's tropical dining room. We had a huge feast that included prawn curry with bilimbis. I fell in love with this tart fruit that had the same texture and feel as star fruit. I was amazed when he showed me the fruit growing right beside the restaurant. Bilimbi, along with kokum gives the cocunut gravy a splendid sourness. Sometimes the prawns float alone in the gravy, sometimes they are accompanied by ladyfingers (okra), and they are usually accompanied by a few bilimbis, sliced in half lengthwise.
Here is a video I took of Auntie (one of Fernando's chefs) grinding coconut and spices for Goan Prawn Curry.

Goan Prawn Curry is served with boiled Goan red rice. In Goa it is known as local rice or boiled rice or ukade tandool. This rice is also popular in Southern Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Kerala.

Tune: Brown Rice by Don Cherry from the album Brown Rice which was origionally released under the title Don Cherry in the glorious year of 1975.

In the off season, dried bilimbis are used instead. Fernando used to dry his own bilimbis in the hot Goan sun just outside the restaurant.
Chef Fernando told me that the difference between the gravy for Goan fish curry and Goan prawn curry is that the masala or soymire for prawn curry is strained out and extracted with water. For fish Curry, the soymire is just ground up to a coarser paste.

Goan Prawn Curry
30 parts Coconut, grated
10 parts dry red chillies, deseeded
7 parts tamarind pulp
1 part tumeric powder
2 parts cumin seed
5 parts coriander seed
3 parts garlic
3 parts onion

Grind with water to a fine paste and strain and squeeze out all juices. repeat this process two more times.

Fry some chopped onions in oil and add some chopped tomatoes. Add the watered down masala paste (soymire) and bilimbi halves and optional okra slices along with a few pieces of kokum and a green chile, sliced in half. Simmer until bilimbi softens. Season with salt and add whole peeled prawns. Simmer until prawns are just cooked. Serve with boiled Goan rice and a glass of Sol Khadi.

..oh yeah... and don't forget the kismoor.

What's This?
The photo above is the fresh version of the mystery ingredient. The photo below is the dried version.
I first tasted this wonderful ingredient in a Parsi restaurant in Bombay called Britannia. Britania is one of the best restaurants in the world.

Tune: Tom! Bac! and Stay by The Chemirani Trio from the 2002 album Kalam Kar THe Chemirani Trio are Master Persian musician Jamsid Chemirani and his two sons Keyvan and Bijan

Chemirani honors classical Persian music while incorporating influences from Africa, India and beyond. ...So does Zaman 8

Tune: Sani by Zaman 8 from the Six Degrees Emerging Artist Sampler CD.

Tune: ùë›é by Zadik Zecharia öãé÷ æëøéä from Kurdish Melodies Played on Zorna ›òéîåú ëåøãéåú òí æåø›ä
Zadik Zecharia is a Zorna master born in Kurdistan and living in Israel since 1950. Here is one of his songs remixed and tweeked by an Israeli DJ.

Tune: a Zadik Zecharia song Remixed By Kinoro Shel Rothschild from Kurdish Melodies Played on Zorna ›òéîåú ëåøãéåú òí æåø›ä Remixed
I bought this Zadik Zecharia CD at Aquarius Records in San Francisco.

Tune: Mervat by Salah Ragab & Thr Cairo Jazz Band from the album Ramadan in Space Time

Tune: A Farewell Theme by The Sun Ra Arkestra with Salah Ragab and The Cairo Jazz Band

Tune: Zeytinyagli by Mustafa Ozkent Orchestra from the album Genclik Elele


Sandalwood byMoondog and The London Saxophonic from the album Sax Pax for Sax

Tune: I Got the by Labi Siffre from the Remember My Song album released in the wonderful year of 1975.

Tune: Tavuklara Kiss De by Barış Manço

Tune: Küçük Bir Gece Müzigi also by Barış Manço

I felt at home cooking in Raia, just like Alborosie singing in Jamaica.

Tune: Kingston Town by Alborosie

Another European reggae act that stays real is Seeed. With a whole slew of records under their belt, they produce heavy riddims with a unique sound that is still reggae dancehall, but still different.

Tune: Dancehall Caballeros by Seeed

Tune: Music Monks by Seeed on the Pharoah Riddim

Tune: And Another Song by Seeed

Tune: Waterhouse Rock by Big Youth remixed by Groove Corporation from Select Cuts from Blood and Fire vol III

Tune: Disco Devil extended disco dub by Lee "Scratch" Perry and Max Romeo
Max Romeo's first job was working on a sugar plantation in 1958, so he is a natural Soul Cocinian. lee Scratch Perry is just crazy enough to be at home here at Soul Cocina as well.

Tune: Conquering Lion by Yabby You

Mystery Tune: ????What's This???? taken from a mixtape from the vaults of Albert T's Flying Saucer.

Mystery Tune: ??Mystery??? taken from a cassette tape bought on the streets of Calcutta.

Mystery Tune: ????Wha's This???? from an unlabeled white label 12"

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What's This? round 3

Like the first two installments of the What's This? series, these photos were also taken on the streets of India. This time Calcutta.

This guy made me some juice from these wonderful doohickie watchamacallits. It was the most refreshing drink! Here are the empty shells below.

Tune: Nata Raaj by Debashish Bhattacharya from the album calcutta Slide Guitar

More slide guitar by San Francisco's own The New Up
Tune: Tropical Soda by The New Up

Tune: Question by Bobby Powell

Tune: Loose Juice by Andre Williams born in 1936, he has a Myspace page where you can hear his Bacon Fat song, a Soul Cocina favorite.

Tune: Mystery Train by Lil Junior Parker & His Blue Flames

Tune: Mystery Song by The Bauls of Bengal
Not sure where this recording comes from, maybe an old cd or tape? I lost track of it's title and artist name, but it is a beautiful song.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Puran Poli

First off, Thanks to everyone who helped me identify the mystery items here at Soul Cocina last week.
Puran Poli is a sweet snack made in Maharashtra (and other parts of India). It is often made durring holy celebrations. Puran Poli is like a chapati stuffed with a sweet filling. While filming Soul Dukra in the village of Mutt last year during Holi, I tasted some of the best puran poli ever. The ghee was homemade and super fresh and something about the simplicity of the dough made for a perfect texture, light yet rich, hot and scrumptous. When I returned to Goa after the trip to the Maharastran village, I asked Sachen to teach me the recipe at the ACE lab. I like how his family recipe has a little tumeric in the dough. I was delighted to discover that the recipe for puran poli is like pound cake, easy to remember with equal quantities of main ingredients.

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup jaggery
1 cup chana dal
1/4 cup ghee
1/2 cup water
pinch of tumeric
2 T ground cardamom

Make a dough with the flour, tumeric, ghee and water. Knead for 10 minutes by hand until smooth. Cover with plastic and set aside in a warm spot. Allow dough to rest while preparing the filling.

For the filling, boil the chana dal. Drain dal when it is cooked before it becomes mushy and broken. Drain dal of all water and cook in a sauce pan over low heat with cardamom and jaggery. Stirring constantly, cook until jaggery is dissolved into dal and a dry puree is formed. Allow to cool.
Cut the dough into small balls and fill each ball with a small ball of filling. Flatten out and on a lightly floured work surface, roll out the balls to thin flat discs. Cook the puran polis on both sides over medium heat on a dry griddle or cast iron pan.
Like Puran Poli, today's tunes all have the initials PP. Either the song or artist

Tune: Zacpa by The Plastic People of the Universe from the Egon Bondy's Happy Hearts Club Band

Tune: Poet and Peasant Overture by Eddie Peabody originally recorded on an EDISON diamond disc exactly 50 years before I was born on March 4th 1925.

Tune: Pretty Polly by Dock Boggs is another banjo tune. This song was recorded in 1927. From the western part of Virginia, Boggs was a coal miner for most of his life.

In 1939 the Coon Creek Girls sang this song for Elenor and Franklin Roosevelt at the White House. They opened the show with "How Many Biscuits can you Eat?" I have never heard this song, but it sounds like it could be a Soul Cocina theme song.
Tune: Pretty Polly by The Coon Creek Girls recorded in 1938.

Tune: Pastime Paradise by Stevie Wonder

Tune: Pastime Paradise by Ray Barreto
I can't believe Stevie and Ray Barreto stole this song from Coolio

Tune: Paper Planes Remix by M.I.A. ft Bun B (that's Texas baby!) & Rich Boy

Tune: Paper Guacharaca is another remix of Paper Planes done by Sonido Martines

Tune: Pal Pal... Har Pal sung by Sonu Nigam & Shreya Ghoshal from the film Lage Raho Munna Bhai
Can't resist singing along? here are the lyrics.

Tune: Puto Prata megamix
here is a Kuduro mix I found at the music blog. With Kuduro blowing up everywhere on the net it is hard to filter through the quality and trash out there. Like baile funk from Brasil, Kuduro is raw, rough, and often nasty.

There are lots of Kuduro videos on youtube. This one features a heavy duty kuduro dancer who only has one leg.

Tune: Tetigo is a xylaphone duet by a musicians of the Petalangan People community. known for Promessa de Pescador by Papete from Agua de Coco

Tune: Pistol Packin' Papa by Jimmie Rodgers

Tune: Professor Pyarelal from Bombay The Hard Way: Guns, Cars, and Sitars. On this tune, Dan "the Automator" Nakamura and DJ Shadow mess with a tune by the Bollywood musical team of Kalyanji and Anandji to create a nice groove.

Tune: Propiedad Privada by Lucha Reyes brings Soul Cocina readers/listeners back to Peru for those of us who just can't get enough.

find more puran poli at:
Madhu's vantalu
The Spice Cafe
and even a vegan version at Vegan Fare

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

What's This?

For the second installment in the "What's This?" series, I am looking for the name and use of two items. First,the vegetable thingy that is black outside and white inside in the photos above. Second, the fruitchamacallit in the photos below. Pictures taken on the streets of Bombay.

Tune: What's That? by Tony Touch w/ Mos Def and De La Soul from The Piece maker LP

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The little lounge that could.

Sambar and Dosa at Bollyhood

We tested out some dishes at Bollyhood this week. Chicken Cafreal Kati Roll, Pomegranate-Kokum Sangria, and Pani Puri were some of my favorites.

Some Bollyhood lounge music by DJ Vadim

Tune: Kill Kill Kill (Waxos vs Circus Remix) by DJ Vadim is a remix of the song from the Soundcatcher album. Some of the remixes started here and some ended up on the Soundcatcher Extras LP

Tune: I Can Never is also from the Soundcatcher extras LP.

Bollyhood Cafe in San Francisco

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Pie Tart

Instead of baking a pumpkin pie, sometimes I'll bake sweet potato pie in the fall. This tradition comes from my time in South Carolina. But while at Citizen Cake I designed my own fall favorite. It's not a pie but a tart, but it feels like a pie! I revisited this favorite again this year.
Pomegranate and Persimmon Pie
vanilla scented hachiya persimmon custard topped with fuyu persimmon slices, pomegranate seeds and pomegranate gelee in a brown butter-vanilla tart shell
I made this pie tart tonight for tomorow's Thanksgiving feast with the H.O.G. posse. I am also making something else. The "something else" ingredients are pictured on the left and they will be in the oven on low heat overnight (except for the apple in the bowl with the limes, that's my midnight snack.) And I will add tomatoes and cilantro tomorrow. What's This? ... or rather, what will this become? I'll post the final picture after Thanksgiving.
I give thanks to all the musicians and DJs who have contributed food themed music to Soul Cocina for the Beatwalla Vs. Hunger Mix. I plan to put it together in early 2008 and I am still requesting music with a food theme at to build up the library before I begin. Special thanks so far for participation from Wayne and Wax, Terrakota, DJ Gaetan Fabri, El Chavo, DJ C, Slim Rimografia, The Singleman Affair, and DJ Franko from Discos Unicornio

My food mix is in the works. While you wait, check out my favorite mix of all time over at Fufu Stew. It is a Thanksgiving mix dedicated to turkeys, soul food, grits, chitt'lins, corn bread, and all things funky! It is the fufu stew mix number 8 and it is not to be missed. Get it while it's hot and play this mix on Thanksgiving for your family and friends. I know I will.

Tune: Life's Pie by Don Will, Fresh Daily and Finale with Beats by the mighty Oddisee. The 101 Mixtape by Oddisee is the best Hip Hop has to offer in 2007

Tune: Shoo fly Pie by Dinah Shore
Dinah also put out a few cookbooks.

Tune: The Thanks I Get for Loving You by Candi Stanton

Tune: Give Thanks and Praises by Bob Marley

Tune: Give Thanks by Lee Dada and produced by Echo Sound System

Tune: Thank Ya by Jean Grea from Attack Of The Attacking Things.

buy music and books from today's featured artists here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What's This?

This is the first installment of the What's This? series.This guy was selling this tuber?, vegetable?, tree trunk?, fruit?, on the sidewalk beside the Jehangir Art Gallery in Bombay. He would cut slices and sell them to people passing by. It tasted kind of like jicama and waterchestnut, but it was more dry.Here is a closer look. Notice in the pic below I have taken a few bites out of a slice.
so.... What's This?

The last post was Soul Cocina Blog's 100th post. Although some of the posts came from the earlier blog, Rani and Raja which was hijacked one day while I took it off line for a minute for maintenance.

Tune: Two More Dead (Hundred Strong Remix) by RJD2

Tune: Pounds And Hundreds (Lbs & 100s) by Otis Redding

Tune:Fall in Love Again by Ms. Dynamite

Here is a short dubbed out mix that starts with Ms. Dynamite's "Fall In Love Again"
Tune:Dj Rajah's Love Dub mix
In keeping with the What's This? theme, I'll let you guess the rest of the track list for the Love Dub mix.

Tune: I'm a Drifter by Lowell Fulsom from a Kent Records 7"

Tune: This Feeling (Freedom) part 1 by Julius Brockington & The Magic Force from Burman Records 1974

Tune: This Feeling (Freedom) part 2 by Julius Brockington & The Magic Force from Burman Records 1974

Brockington put out a bunch of gospel records as well in the 70's. He played keyboard on a bunch of soul records too.
According to O-Dub, this 1974 record is a "remix" of the same song that was originally released 1n 1973. I guess the original version of this record did not have the haunting keyboards. I'm glad I found the 1974 version, cause I love what the keyboard adds to the cut. A 7" single being remixed onto 7" again? Sounds like Jamaica!

Buy music from some of today's Soul Cocina featured artists.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Papa rellena with aji verde and pickled onions. This potato fritter is filled with picadillo (garlic and onion spiked ground beef) with one or two raisins, an olive or two, and half of a hard boiled egg.
I am in the process of organizing all of my menus for Soul Cocina and decided to share my Peruvian menu here. I have never been to Peru. I have only tasted Peruvian cuisine in San Francisco. So my menu is California-Peruvian. I use the ingredients available here to recreate dishes and feelings I have learned from Peruvian friends, restaurants, and books.

1st course
Tres Papas a trio of petite potato classics
Causa de Atún
Yukon gold potato cake filled with North Pacific albacore tuna, avacado, soft boiled egg, and yellow chile (aji amarillo) aioli
Papas Rellenas
Potato fritter filled with garlic ground beef, and black olives. Served with pickled onions and aji verde (green chile sauce)
Mashed Purple Potato
A tiny purple potato mashed with sea salt, lime and extra virgin olive oil

soup course
Sopa Wantán
This light chicken broth with little chicken dumplings and cabbage is a popular Chifa (Peruvian-Chinese) dish

2nd course
Dos Pescados two classic fish dishes
Tiradito de Lenguado
Peruvian sashimi of sole with olive oil, lime salt, orange salt, and pickled hominy (choclo)
Cebiche Peruano
Classic Peruvian ceviche. Small cubes of sea bass marinated in lime juice with red onion, toasted corn kernals, tiny cubes of sweet potato, and rocoto (small, red, round chile pepper from the Andes)

intermezzo I
Leche de Tigre
A small shot of the ceviche "run-off", tiger's milk is a potent elixer of lime juice, infused with fish, onion and spice.
intermzzo II
Chicha Morada Shaved Ice
shaved ice made from a sweet purple corn drink

3rd course
Aji Gallina
A spicy chicken stew served with rice. Originally made with hualpa (a type of poultry indigenous to Peru) this dish has a unique combination of ingredients. Walnuts, boiled eggs and olives. The sauce is thickened with a paste made from bread and milk.

dessert amuse bouche
Mini Alfajores
Dulce de leche sandwiched between two crumbly almond cookies

Mazamorra Morada, Picarones, Helado Morado
Purple corn porridge with poached quince, a skinny pumpkin doughnut, purple corn gelato and a quinoa tuile.

Photo from the Comunidad del Cebiche Blog

As you can see from my menu, the cuisine of Peru has been influenced by Japanese, Spanish, Chinese, African, Caribbean cooking and more. There is even a Peruvian-East Indian connection out there. Peru's indigenous ingredients play a lead role in defining this global cuisine.

There are a lot Peruvian ingredients available in markets here in San Francisco. I can get dried purple corn, fresh purple potatoes, choclo (peruvian hominy) , huacatay is very similar to the epazote found in Mexican markets, I can occasionally find Peruvian chile peppers (aji), but not all of the time. But there are also all sorts of interesting ingredients in Peru that never leave the country.
Let's see what Anthony Bourdain eats in Peru.

Peruvian desserts have a great Spanish influence, which in turn is influenced by the sweets of the Moors of North Africa. Fried doughnuts in fragrant syrup find there way to Peru via picarones. This is just another piece in Soul Cocina's ongoing fried dough puzzle. Like the savory food of Peru, the desserts also have elements of the nations indigenous cuisine. Just take a peek at these desserts to get an idea of what I am talking about.

We have many great Peruvian restaurants here in town. Ranging from high end and fancy to down home and comforting. My favorite is El Perol. This place is inside of the Mission market near 22nd street and Mission street. It seems like more of a stand than a restaurant. The common indoor courtyard used for dinning is shared with a butcher, a produce shop, and a fish market. It feels like you are eating outside in a patio. Order from the counter. They have passion fruit juice, chicha morada, papas rellenas, and big plates of rice and fish, and meat, and yucca, and plantains. The fish soup is great.
Like the cuisine of Peru, the music has a Spanish-Afro-Caribbean feel while maintaining it's own unique Peruvian identity.

Here are a few songs by the heavy duty Peruano sonero who goes by the name of Melcochita. Great salsa music from Peru.
Tunes: Bombele , Yay Voy and A Comer Lechon by Melcochita
Of Afro-Cuban heritage, you can hear the influence of Afro-Caribbean rhythms and themes in his music.
buy his cd's here.

Chabuca Granda is on of the godmothers of Peruvian music.
Tune: La Herida Oscura by Chabuca Granda (Peru 1920-1983)
I love the use of vibes with a juice harp.

Here is a little psychadelic cumbia called Chicha in Peru
Tune: Ven Mi Dulce Amor by Los Destellos
Chicha is named after the Peruvian fermented corn drink
Chicha morada is an unfermented drink made from purple corn. From what I have tried, most chicha morada in Peruvian restaurants is sweeter than kool-aid, but you can buy dried purple corn at Latino markets and make your own. All you need to do is boil the purple corn in water with a little lemon or lime and sweeten with sugar to taste. Steep the corn for about half an hour and strain. Serve chilled. There are a lot of Peruvian dishes that use purple corn, But I have gone overboard in creating purple corn desserts. I have used purple corn and quince to make Mazamorra morada, and from this mazamorra morada I have made porridge by whisking in purple corn meal to make a sort of sweet purple polenta. I have steeped purple corn in milk for a base to make gelato. And I have also made purple corn mousse and foam.

Here is a dessert I call Purple Rain
Hot mazamorrada with sauteed corn and blueberries, purple corn gelato, puffed corn, and chicha morrada foam.

Tune: Chula Vende Chicha by Los Hermanos Flores from El Salvador.

Here are Los Destellos performing La Llorona

I love this song also called La Llorona
Tune: La Llorona by Chavela Vargas

Tune: Como una Rosa Roja by Lucha Reyes (1936-1973)from Peru from the LP La Morena de Oro del Peru

Tune: Asi Lo Quieres Tu by Lucha Reyes from Peru. This song is from the LP Mi Ultima Cancion

The Peruvian Lucha reyes is not the only Latina superstar from the 20th century. She shares her name with a Mexicn diva who also has a powerfully haunting voice.

Tune: La Tequilera by Lucha Reyes from Mexico (1906-1944)

Tune: Indian Carnaval by Yma Sumac

Tunes: Negra presunituosa, Xanahari and Valentin by Susana baca
Buy her music here.

2 excellent starting points for Peruvian music are the compilations:
The Soul Of Black Peru
The Roots of Chicha

There is a lot of new music coming out of Buonos Aires in the form of cumbia remixes by cats like . There are tons of Mexican artists who are putting out some interesting cumbia projects too. But what's the new "underground" scene of Peru? Is it TechnoChicha/cumbia!? The only post-modern Peruvian music I have is by the group NovaLima. It is aen EP record that has a few remixes from their Afro album. The beats are OK and the sound is fresh but I would like to here some Peruvian remixes done in the style of Zaman8 or JStar or Romanowski.

Tune: Candela Faze Action Dub by NovaLima

Friday, November 09, 2007

Soul Dukra

Every year in the village of Mutt in Sindhudurg during the colorful festival of Holi, there is a unique custom. The people of the village hunt a dukra for a special ceremony. Dukra is wild boar. There are lots of cashew trees in Mutt (as well as mango, tamarind, kokum, papaya, and much more) The dukra love to eat cashews.I will share my experiences cashew harvesting in Mutt later here at Soul Cocina Blog, today's story is about the wild boar of Mutt called dukra. Mutt sits in a valley surrounded by hills and trees. There are monkeys and rabbits and boar in the hillside. The famous Alphonso mango grows in Mutt and the surrounding areas. The locals are expert mango growers. There are giant jackfruit trees (picture on right). Papaya trees too. One of my students/ assistants at ACE, Sachen, has family in this village and he invited me to stay there for Holi last year. I was amazed to find out how self sufficient the homes in the village were. There were four houses that shared a courtyard/ patio under a huge tamarind tree. Beneath the tamarind tree
Each home had several additions that had been built on over the years to accommodate the growing families. There were chickens and cows and cats and birds. There was a big well in the back yard under a papaya tree, next to a chicken coup. Most of the homes also owned cashew and mango fields. The mango season was only weeks away by the time I had visited Mutt for Holi, and there were empty crates stacked high in the yards awaiting the season’s harvest.
It was in the middle of cashew season, so the families were also busy harvesting cashews, separating the fruit from the nut, and opening the nut from its armored shell.above- Sachen and his auntie during our cashew harvest.
below- Seperating the cashew nut from the fruit is a family affair.

Tune: Family Affair by Doctor L and Antibalas from Mind Records 2006 7"

It was also rabbit season. I went on a rabbit hunt with a group of the men.

We set up long nets across fields and then some of us hid in bushes with stones, ready to be used as ammunition, while rest of the crew would roam the field with sticks, scaring any rabbits that may have been in the bushes towards the net. The one day I went out we did not catch any rabbits, but on the walk home, I saw two young kids carrying a rabbit they had caught down the road. The next day we went out for the dukra hunt.

In Mutt, it is a strict necessity for a proper Holi celebration to kill a wild boar and to offer parts of the animal up to the gods at the temple in the kitchen and on the roof of houses.Above- Food is offered to the gods on the roof
Below- Food is also offered to the gods on the stove

The men do not return home until they kill a boar. There were a few groups out hunting and I was not part of the group that caught the dukra, but we were close by and as soon as the news was out that a dukra had been killed, we were quick to make it to the scene under a supari tree.
There was already a crowd of about 10 guys that grew to 30 in the next ten minutes. They cut branches from a nearby tree to make a “stretcher” for the dead animal. They tore fibers from some branches to use as twine to tie up the swine. More people joined the gathering as the dukra was being tied to the branches and the sounds of drums approached as we were ready to march the dukra procession to the temple. It was a festive 20 minute walk complete with the retelling of the “hunt” story describing in detail, in Malvani how the dukra was found and killed. When we reached the temple there was a whole ceremony the five elder village leaders (panchayat) had to decide according to astrology, when the best time would be to butcher the Dukra. They decided that the following afternoon would be best.

So, after a few hours of debate, discussion, and drumming with the dukra stretched out on the floor of the temple, we decided to call it a night and got some rest for the next day's big events.

While the men were butchering the dukra at the temple in the afternoon, I walked back to the houses to to check up on the curry preparation. In the heart of the Malvan coast, coconut is the base for most curries. So, the ladies were at home grating coconuts, browning onions and toasting spices for the dukra curry. In many local recipes, I learned from Sachen, the secret to the curry is slowly cooked grated coconut. The coconut slightly browns over low, gradual heat, giving the curry a unique nuttiness and a golden hue. By slowly toasting the coconut, it's essential oils are released, and this helps to make the curry extra fragrant. The ladies of the house all prepare large cauldrons of curry for the men to take back to the temple after the dukra is butchered. All the different curries are set on top of open fires in the yard of the temple and the men put down their knives and drums to take care of the curry as they add fresh wild boar to each cauldron. The meat is rationed off to each families pot of curry.
Being a guest, I was obligated to try, at least a spoonful of each pot of dukra curry. They even charred the skin to create something similar to chicharrones

Tune: Chicharron by Oro Solido