Friday, July 18, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, Aunty Savia came to stay with me, loaded with spice pastes, pickles, goan sausages, vinegar and Mangad - mango jam made of local mangoes that are high in pectin.

Aunty Savia, is a college friend of my mother's. Thanks to her, my mother became an amazing baker and our our childhood memories are enriched with a variety of baked goodies and Easter Marzipan. Aunty Savia had a pickle factory, and care packages from her always included delicious aromatic masallas, pickles, home made bebinca. She also introduced us to goan food albeit vegetarian since she cooked it at our house but later, when i moved into my own home, visits from her meant feasts of prawn curry, coconut curry and all sorts of delectable treats.

Aunty Savia is as Goan as they get, a homebody and one of the loveliest people I know, in the typically Goan way, food is an important part of her identity. The thhre days we spent together were full of learning on my part and nostalgia on hers -about learning to cook, feeding her kids when they were babies and feeding them now as adults, and nostalgia of the times she stayed with my mother in the Munshaw home. We cooked vindalho, xacuti, and a few other classic dishes for My Mumbai Cookbook but the highlight of her stay for me was this dish of stuffed squid she made.

I have only ever seen squid in rings so this stuffed version was a novelty for me. We found squid when we went to look for seafood to cook for our session and bought a few pieces. She chopped up the tentacles with a few prawns and sauteed them with onions, coconut and a little Vindalho paste. She then stuffed this mixture into the squids and cooked the whole in some more of the onion spice paste. It cooked to a spicy almost pickled dish that was great with rice.

And equally invauable was the other knowledge she imparted, advice on baby food, ideas for dishes my kid would like, dealing with bab tummy upsets and a whole lot of things besides.

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