A little Massale (Masala) a day keeps the doctor away!
Where to begin really! I know, I know , I am truly sorry all my dearest for such a long absence from the blog. Things have been so busy since I joined work along with a lot of freelancing works with local Magazines. But here it is, we are starting slow once again until the new blog is up. Yes we are going all NEW in the coming months! Yayyyyy. Kindly bear with me until things get stable on my ends for there is so much to do. I would like to say Thank You to all those who have been messaging me, requesting for new recipes as well as for all your concerns as to why I haven’t been posting for a while. You all are my force really and it is truly beyond a sheer satisfaction to blog for you all beautiful souls out there.
So here is to the very first post of Year 2017! The heart to every Mauritian Curry and possibly the only true essence of every childhood Curry dish reminiscences. A blend of flavours, a marriage of fragrances and the ultimate taste of Mauritian diversity. Yes the hero of today’s blog post is none other than Masala or Massale ( As commonly called in Reunion Islands – which I absolutely love the sound of to be honest ). ”Masala Cari” or ”Masala Paste” is what makes you lick your fingers at the end of each Curry dish. Mauritian Curries are very popularly recommended especially the Traditional Fish or Chicken Curry. Scooped heavily with Rotis/Flatbreads. You eat your soul out trust me once you had a taste of these heart filling Curries.
This recipe has been mostly inspired and re adapted to my own version from the all magical and lavish cookbook AQUACASIA by Chef Willibald Reinbacher . Aquacasia pays homage to the Indian Ocean and its fabulous cuisine with enticing collection of easy to follow recipes that have been sourced and refined. The recipes are based on the food enjoyed by the islanders themselves and is indeed a true jewel to go through. From rich images of the Indian Ocean to vibrant recipes and great flavours combinations. You will be totally smitten if you love seafood and ocean life. ( You can find out more on here ). To note that on page 104 of the cookbook is the recipe for a Green Curry Paste mostly. To which I re-adapted and turned into a traditional Mauritian Yellow Masala Paste.
Masala Paste also comes in form of powder and is very widely available throughout the island either at local shops or at supermarkets. With time Mauritians have developed a certain liking for their own preferred brands. Whereas some still like to make their own by adopting the long lost traditional way by using a mortar and pestle. If not then by going deep into the Mauritian roots, by grinding the spices using the legendary Roche Cari (A stone ruggedly polished in form of a square or rectangular which comes along with a roll). The aromas and fragrances that arise from grinding these rich spices on the stone are really exquisite to be honest.
The beauty of home cooking has always been how you can afford a certain freedom with the flavour combinations as well as consistency. You can follow your instincts and allow to express yourself fully . However a bare minimum of know how is needed for as long as you know the basic you can always adjust. My kitchen was on that day a true sanctuary of aromas , for those spices when being toasted on low fire really kick you with a fragrance of unbelievable notes. I was totally taken by surprise myself to how gorgeous those spices were smelling. The secret to a good Masala definitely lies into the right fire and aromas they give out when toasted.
The Heart to Every Mauritian Curry – Masala Paste/ Masala Cari
Preparation time : 30 Mins
Cooking time : 10 mins
Yield : 1 Pot
- 1 cup curry leaves
- 1/2 cup of dry red chilli powder ( optional )
- 3 tbsp coriander seeds
- 2 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp cloves
- 1 tbsp cardamom pods
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp turmeric powder/ 2 turmeric sticks
- 1 tbsp pepper cones (black)
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 1 tbsp mustard seeds
- 3 star anise
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 nutmeg
- 1/2 cup of coconut flakes/finely chopped
- water to grind
- In a skillet pan or simply non stick pan, add in all your dry ingredients and toast for approx. 10 mins on low fire.
- Stir continuously so as to spread the heat evenly throughout the spices.
- Remove and set aside to cool down.
- In a mortar and pestle or in a grinder, add a handful of the spices and grind a little at a time until a smooth paste is obtained by gradually adding water to it.
- Store paste in an air tight container by covering with vegetable oil and a sprinkle of salt.
Note : Store for around 3 weeks in the refrigerator in an air tight sealed container. Use as base in any Curry of your liking e.g prawn curry , chicken or fish.
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