I have never been friendly with Shellfish in my life. I can work my way through Prawns like a Pro but any other Fish inside a Shell scares me, and I have no idea what to do with it. It is a Punjabi thing really; we don’t grow up eating Shellfish. Maybe the closest we could have ever gotten to a Shellfish is perhaps enhancing the subtle flavors of Prawns or maybe even a Lobster in “Tandoori” spices.
Thankfully we can’t use our Tandoori magic on every Shellfish out there, like Clams. The tiny little piece of meat cocooned inside a Shell needs some delicate and gentle handling. You can’t be rough with it; you want to able to taste the Sea with every bite even though they may have a few spices that may be used to enhance the flavors.
Clams need a special kind of love to become the delicious little treat that they are, be a little rough, and they become as hard as Rubber. But with some tender care and love Clams can wow your taste buds like no other Fish can and you have to eat Clams cooked in Coconut to know how amazing they are.
Living in Maharashtra surrounded by ‘Malvan’ & ‘Gomantak’ restaurants one can enjoy this delicacy. But here in Australia, there is no way can I go to an Indian restaurant and hope to god they have some delicious Clams on their menu. So what will a girl do, a girl has to become friends with shellfish, what else? The Punjabi in me has learned to handle Clams with a delicate hand and be a little mindful in cooking it as the shells can break so easily. The highlight of making this Clams dish is the liberal use of Coconut and Kokum (Garcinia Indica), this dark fruit is used a souring agent in Konkani food and gives the dish a unique tangy taste.
And since my confidence in making Clams soars every time I make them, last weekend I went all out and made a Full Thali with Dal, Rice, Rotis, Beans & Potatoes, Aam Ras (Mango pulp), Sol Kadhi and Tisrya Sukha. The husband who was the happy recipient of this meal told me that it reminded him of sunny afternoons in Goa digging into a delicious “Tisrya Sukha” (Dry Clams curry) with the softest Chapatis (flatbread) and a chilled beer. Now that is a compliment that made me feel very euphoric.
Recipe (Cooking time 30 minutes, serves 3 – 4)
One kg Clams (I used a bag of frozen clams)
3/4 cup freshly desiccated Coconut (I used frozen coconut that I had thawed)
Two medium sized Onions finely sliced
Make a paste of one tsp Ginger, one tsp Garlic and two Green chilies
6 – 7 pieces of Kokum (don’t go overboard as too much Kokum can result in a very bitter dish)
One tsp Turmeric powder
One tsp Red chili powder
One tsp Coriander powder
One tsp Garam masala powder
Salt to taste
Two tsp Vegetable oil
Freshly chopped Coriander
Boil Water in a big bowl and add Salt to it. Gently boil the Clams in the water for 5 – 7 minutes till they open up. The clams that don’t open should be thrown away. Once the Clams have opened up again, gently drain all the water in which they are boiled and throw away the empty/unopened shell.
You can choose to remove the meat and use that only, but I like to keep the meat in the shell that it is attached to and just throw the other empty shell away.
Heat oil in a pan.
Add the onions and cook them till they are almost translucent.
Now add the Ginger, Garlic and Green chilies paste, Coconut and cook for 5 – 10 minutes on a low flame.
Add the Kokum, Clams, and the spices and mix very gently ensuring that Shells do not break.
Add ½ cup of warm water, cover and cook for 7 – 10 minutes.
Serve with hot Chapatis sprinkled with freshly chopped Coriander.
Note: The dish has to be dry if you feel you don’t need to add ½ cup water just add a dash for the dish to finish. The clams are cooked when we boil them, so we just need to make sure that they are coated well with the masala.
Kokum is readily available in Indian shops in Australia. I used fresh Kokum if you get the dried version you can soften it in a tbsp. Of Warm water before you use it
If you cannot find Kokum at all, you can use one large Tomato finely chopped and added it after the Coconut. Or you can you a ball sized piece of Tamarind soaked in warm water as the Souring agent. However, it is the Kokum that gives the Clams it a distinctive flavor.