Friday, April 29, 2011

Ghotachem Saasav (Mango Curry)

When the word 'Mango' comes to mind, it brings with it the images of a lovely golden yellow colored fruit, sweet and tangy pulp, milkshakes, ice-creams and other desserts. But a curry?

Fear not, this is an age old Goan Saraswat recipe. The best thing about Goan recipes is that not only are they really simple to make, but they rely solely upon the flavors of the main ingredient to bring out the taste of the recipe. It is unmasked by layers of spices. Spices are just added as an adjuvant to the main flavor. This is one such recipe.

When I think of this recipe, I think of all the summers I spent at my grandmother's home in Andheri. She was a great cook. Better even than my mother. I guess the talent gets downgraded as the number of generations increase. She didn't know how to make any other fancy recipes. She didn't know how to make anything other than Goan Saraswat food. I guess that was her super-specialty and the reason for her food being so tasty despite being simple. Then again, there were the stories we heard over meals. My cousins and I would sit in a semi-circle around her and wait for our turn to be fed by her. We would save the last morsel for the crow who would visit my grandmother's house at mealtimes. (A crow still visits the house. My aunt has managed to maintain this tradition.)

Those were good times. My grandmother was a frail lady with no teeth in her mouth. Her dentures would be saved only for the very special occasions. I remember thinking that she looked weird with teeth on. I liked her infinitely better without the teeth. Her toothless grin was infectious. I still remember her smile. I remember her and miss her a lot. She was one heck of a lady. She was feared by almost everyone in her society. It was not because she had physical strength. On the contrary. She was feared because of the strength of her conscience. The strength of her being. Any kid who ever complained to their parents that 'Kaku Aaji' (as she was called) scolded them, met with a severe reprimand that 'Kaku Aaji' won't scold for nothing, and that they must have done something to deserve it. :-)

I would go and gather flowers every morning to make a garland for the Gods when Aaji did her puja. My cousin Sachin had even made up a song to irk me. And irk me it did, very successfully indeed. I don't know if he remembers the song but I do.

It is funny how some recipes bring with them not just their flavors, but the flavors of your past as well. :-)

Here you go.

  • 3 to 4 small ripe mangoes (small mangoes are called 'Ghota' in Goa)
  • 1 cup freshly grated coconut
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • tamarind  the size of a quarter lemon
  • a pinch of asafoetida
  • 3 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • jaggery to taste
Remove the pulp of the mangoes. Do not scrape the seed though. Save the seed with the pulp for the curry. Keep aside.

In a blender puree the coconut, turmeric, red chilli powder, garam masala and tamarind together. Heat oil in a wok and add the mustard seeds. When the mustard starts crackling add  asafoetida.  Now add the pureed coconut mixture, mango pulp and the mango seeds.

Bring the curry to a boil. Add the salt as per taste and then add jaggery. Taste the curry at this point. If the mangoes are sweet you won't require much of the jaggery to sweeten it. If they are more sour than sweet, then you may need more of the jaggery to adjust the sweetness. The end result should be that all the flavors should easily blend with each other. There should be no harsh elements. Simmer for five minutes and  the curry is done.

Serve hot with chapati, amboli or rice.

Happy Cooking!


  1. :) reminded me on my Grandma, everyone used to get scared of her too, but I loved her. We call this dish, "Aambya Saasam", if u attend a traditional GSB wedding, it features in the lunch menu. Where in Andheri is ur Gran's place, coz now my sasaar is in Andheri too?

  2. My grandma is no more. But my uncle and aunt still live there. It's in Bamanwada in Chakala near the cigarette factory. I love going to that place still :-) Where is your saasar?