Bangalore is warming up to the new flavours in food and with that comes new ideas to entice the food lovers of the city. From farmers market to santhe and lunch soiree’s at the budding bohemian style cafes, the city is buzzing with lots of activities centered around food.
The organic and healthy grains always scores better than the regular ones and looks very lucrative and the burlap covers somehow attested the seal of authenticity. This is a human nature to correlate something from the past as authentic or traditional, so if the food products flaunts its burlap covers (or more precisely the jute covers of olden days) we seemed to believe in the product. Having tasted the true natural honey from the Sunderbans from one such stall at organic farmer market, I took a chance with the mango mustard sauce that I had bought from one such flea market which proclaimed it to be as authentic one but was seriously disappointing. I was suspicious from the beginning as the color of the sauce was very dull, the texture nowhere resembles to a good kasundi sauce (yes the sauce has a texture) and flavour looks synthetic to me. But sometimes I do get wary of my over critical mindset and at times for the sake of others I just let it go and buy the product like a good consumer (the one who don’t over analyze everything).
To me the word authentic or stamp of authenticity is very vague when we are discussing things like food. In my initial days as a food blogger, I too had used the term very loosely or liberally but in last few years as a food blogger, as a food critic or reviewer or as a food lover I have learnt a lot from the food blogs, the food history books and the way recipes has evolved through ages often resembling the same techniques emphasizing the strong correlation between the recipes and geographical migration of people. And that’s how the authenticity of a particular dish dilutes as people migrates from one place to another and they infuse it with local flavours. “Traditional” is a more appropriate word if you happen to follow the same set of rules as laid by your ancestors, like the treasure troves of heirloom recipes.
So, the proclamation of being termed it as authentic kasundi, fall flatly on that summer afternoon when I tried that sauce with bhetki fish fry. Now, no one in my family or extended family has ever made a kasundi at home, so I got no reference point to start with. Nor that I had ever harbored any idea of making kasundi at home, but when I had come across the recipe in Bong Mom’s cookbook, I wanted to try it for its simplicity. The detail recipe of making mango kasundi at home can be found on her blog, and what I have followed here is a shortcut method if you want to escape yourself from grinding the mustard seeds.
Mustard is an acquired taste because of its high pungency and bitterness and few will appreciate this in chicken curries. But you have to be Bengali to appreciate the true essence of mustard and in my myopic vision, only Bengalis know how to handle the mustard and its heat. So, one high Summer afternoon, I found one bottle of Kasundi (Bengali’s mustard sauce equivalent to Japanese wasabi) hidden behind the giant ketchup bottle in my fridge’s door, and all of a sudden the idea of making “aam kasundi” overpowers me with all its tantric forces. I quickly peel the unripe mangoes, chop them mercilessly and grind them in the blender with loads of garlic cloves and green chillies (another Bengali’s favourite ingredient). Kasundi was pour into it without any measurement (every Bengali knows how much kasundi is just right) and few pulses later the magic potion of “aam kasundi ” was ready. To this later the extra virgin mustard oil was added and then this was devoured with shaak bhaja (stir fried leafy greens) and steamed rice on a hot sunny afternoon.
- Unripe / green mango : 1 medium size
- Garlic head : 1
- Green chillies : 5-6
- Kasundi / mustard sauce : 4-5 tbsp
- Curd / yogurt plain : 1 tbsp
- Salt to taste
- Mustard oil : 2 tbsp or more
- Turmeric powder : one large pinch
- Chicken : 1 kg (curry cut)
- Onion : 1 large (finely chopped)
- Onion : 1 medium
- Green chillies : 8-10 as per heat tolerance levels
- Turmeric powder : ½ tsp
- Mustard oil : 4-5 tbsp or as required
- Sugar : 2 tsp
- Salt to taste
- Peel and cut the unripe mango into small cubes. Chop the green chillies.
- Blend together the unripe mango, garlic and green chillies together until you get a coarse paste.
- Add the kasundi / mustard sauce, yogurt, salt, mustard oil and turmeric powder and pulse it till it blends nicely.
- Store it in the fridge in sterilized jar if you are not using it right away.
- Wash the chicken thoroughly.
- Grind the onion and half of green chillies (3-4) together.
- Marinate the chicken with half of mango mustard sauce and onion- green chilli paste. Add salt if requires.
- Marinate the chicken for atleast an hour.
- In a pressure pan or in regular kadhai, heat the mustard oil just below its smoking point to ensure the flavour of raw mustard oil in the dish. Else heat the oil till its smoking point.
- Fry the chopped onions till it slightly changes the color.
- Add the marinated chickens (with the marinade) in batches, coating it well.
- Keep braising the chicken in high heat till the chicken absorb a faint brown hue.
- Lower the heat to medium, add rest of the sauce, turmeric powder, sugar, slit or chop rest of the green chillies and add. Mix it well. Braise it for few more minutes till the oil oozes out. This will take around 15 minute.
- Cover the chicken with just enough hot water.
- Cover the lid tightly so that steam cannot escape it.
- Steam cook the chicken till done.
- Drizzle a tablespoon of mustard oil over the chicken before serving, if you wish so.
- This chicken goes very well with the paratha, rotis or even with plain pulao.
The beauty of this sauce is that it can meld with any dish, apart from chicken you can also use this sauce in prawns, fish especially with hilsa, paneer and eggplants.