The magic of pre-mixed!

Living in the kitchen

Here’s a little or well-known fact, as the case may be: Mangaloreans, or at least the present generation (by which I mean my generation), are suckers for shortcuts. They’re also incredibly good at taking advantage of any financial opportunity that presents itself.

So, with the sudden rise in popularity of the cuisine, has come a range of ready-made powders and mixes, complete with instructions on the back, which make cooking Mangalorean food at home much simpler, as well as time and cost effective. I use the powders without shame, and so should you. Here’s a rundown of some of what is available in the market right now.

Meet Mirsaang

This blood-red paste is a staple in every Mangalorean Catholic home, and a majority of households still make their own. Translated, the name literally means ‘salt and chilli’. A perfect meet-mirsaang is a blend of sea salt, Kashmiri chillies for colour and Kundapuri chillies for heat, turmeric, cumin and vinegar. Because the masala is ground without water it keeps for many months without refrigeration. It can be used in anything, from fried fish to coconut curries, and thankfully, is now available in ready-made packets.

Pulimunchi

Traditionally, pulimunchi paste is the Bunt equivalent of Meet Mirsang with just a slight tweak in ratios. But in modern day lingo the word has come to denote a tamarind heavy, spicy, thick gravy which is the star of the show, whether it’s been cooked with chicken, fish or prawns. Pulimunchi powder is now available from a host of different brands. Some are better than others, so make sure you try a few before you make your choice.

Bafat Pito (Powder)

This was the first of the Mangalorean masalas to be available pre-packaged, and I personally know a number of staunchly anti-powder housewives who have become converts. Besides the famed pork bafat, the powder can be used in a number of dishes both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, and always imparts a wonderful colour and aroma, not to mention flavour.

Vegetable Powder

Unlike bafat pito, Mangalorean Vegetable Powder is a well kept secret that is often behind some of the most iconic recipes and dishes to grace a Mangalorean table. Prime examples are kombo mootlien and kubey mootlien, rice and coconut dumplings cooked with chicken and cockles respectively, served in a thick gravy made of fried coconut, Vegetable Powder and little else.  I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that Vegetable Powder can be used to cook a lot more than just vegetables!

Ghee Roast

Yes, believe it or not, even this most mind-boggling of Mangalorean specialities is now available in a powder form! While chicken is the preferred vehicle of choice, prawn and crab also make excellent ghee roasts. As with the pulimunchi, make sure you experiment with different brands before settling on one. And to get that truly authentic taste, add a good amount of cashew nut paste.

Caution: If you want a full range of choices when it comes to brands, you’re going to have to visit the coastal city yourself; having said that, Mangalorean stores in Bangalore do offer a fairly decent selection.

My favourite way to eat fish is if it is shallow fried with meet mirsang. Here’s a simple recipe.

Coastal delicacy

Ingredients: Whiting (kaane): 2, meet mirsang: 2 tablespoons, oil for frying.

Method: Clean the fish well. Dry with paper towels and make horizontal slits along the length of the fish. Marinate the cleaned fish in the meet mirsaang paste for a minimum of 10 minutes and a maximum of half an hour. Heat the oil in a cast-iron tawa until very hot. Place the fish carefully in the oil and reduce the heat slightly. Do not move the fish until it is done on that side. Then turn it over and cook the other side. Add more oil as necessary to keep the masala from burning.

Tip: This recipe can be used to cook any white fish. It’s excellent with pomfret, seer fish and shetkas.  

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