As you learn this, I’m in all probability dying. Sure, dying in anticipation of the annual Sunday lunch feast of epic proportions that I’m about to take pleasure in on the dwelling of our pricey buddies, the Gonsalves. I’ve been doing so since I used to be a toddler.
Their quaint picket cottage is nestled within the meandering alleyways of Chuim Gaonthan. The latter, one of many final previous East Indian Villages of its variety within the Queen of Mumbai’s suburbs, Bandra. A uncommon one which hasn’t fallen prey to unscrupulous ‘land sharks’.
Bedecked in a thousand twinkling fairy lights, and festooned with vibrant banners and streamers, your entire little village will quickly erupt right into a free-for-all feeding frenzy.
At the moment, on the September eight Feast of the Nativity of Mary aka Bandra Feast, the gaonthan’s beneficiant denizens open up their doorways and hearts to all these desirous of some true-blue East Indian nosh. A few of the most potent meals reminiscences of my rising years had been fertilised by the treats — some authorised and most forbidden — that I’d take pleasure in whereas attending the Bandra Feast and its fun-filled spin-off, the Bandra Honest.
The again story
The true saga behind the Bandra Feast begins a number of hundred metres away from Chuim Gaonthan, on the Basilica of Our Woman of The Mount. Merely often called Mount Mary’s, this grand Gothic edifice was established within the mid-1700s, when an idol of the Virgin Mary was discovered floating within the waters of the Arabian Sea off the Bandra coast. Curiously, this was only a few years after a fisherman from the native Koli neighborhood had prophesied the discovering of the idol. Many subsequent iterations of the church later, the basilica as we all know it right now was in-built 1904. Since then the Bandra Feast has been celebrated each September with copious quantities of meals at its centre.
Until I used to be round 12, I’d by no means miss the Bandra Honest. Mum and Dad made positive we first paid obeisance on the basilica, then we’d descend the hundred or so stone steps on the jap facet of the church to get to the honest.
The large stairway can be dotted on both facet by distributors promoting all kinds of varied kitschy tat, from pretend rubber lizards to soapy bubble dispensers, however my eyes had been at all times fastened on forbidden sweets just like the tapioca flour-and jaggery-based gnarly, twig-shaped keedio beedios (actually worms and beedis), the sugar-coated peanuts, and the luridly colored slabs of translucent Bombay halwa. Unusually, the one two issues that we had been ever allowed to take pleasure in had been the pink guava cheese sweets made and offered by a tiny, snow-white-haired Goan girl, and the jaw-busting sesame chikki from the stall of a widely known retailer in Lonavala that dad authorised of.
Candy binge accomplished, we’d make our strategy to the useless finish of the honest, the place the September Gardens meals court docket was held within the grounds of Mount Carmel Church. This was the place for savoury snacks like beef mince-filled potato chops and mutton pan rolls purchased off a gaggle of aunties manning tiny meals stalls. Then it was off to chez Gonsalves for the legendary lunch, a feast that mirrored that distinctive hybrid: the Portuguese-meets-Marathi East Indian delicacies.
Now, the axis round which most savoury East Indian dishes pivot is the all-important bottle masala. Constructed from an insanely wide selection of spices — cumin, coriander and chilli headlining— this mainstay is packed tightly into amber-hued beer bottles; therefore its fairly intriguing title. And it’s this masala, together with sautéed onions and slit inexperienced chillies, that makes the East Indian model of the wealthy Indo-Portuguese pork stew sorpotel totally different from its Goan counterpart. The sorpotel — together with two different Bandra Feast staples, the coconut milk-based mutton lonvas and the hen khuddi curry — is finest mopped up with crispy, scorching fugia balls.
Constructed from a slurry of flour, yeast, coconut milk and eggs (and named after the Marathi phrase for balloon fugga) fugias are the de facto East Indian fried bread no celebration is full with out. As a toddler, I’d waltz into Aunty Edna Gonsalves’s kitchen to see her create the mini balloons by squeezing the stretchy batter within the net of her hand between thumb and forefinger and plopping the uncooked fugias into scorching oil to fry until golden.
However the two most essential desk toppers at any Bandra Feast had been my all-time favorite — stuffed complete roast suckling pig; and a dish that I hated as a toddler however have come to like over time, the supremely spicy duck moile curry. Each made utilizing the ever-present bottle masala. And each, identical to the opposite East Indian goodies, reflecting that divine Bandra Feast vibe.
500 gms mutton (cubed, bone in items)
500 gms white pumpkin (peeled and minimize into cubes)
eight flakes garlic (crushed)
150 ml coconut milk
2 tbsp bottle masala
2 tbsp tamarind pulp
2 tbsp ghee
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups water
1. Parboil the mutton with water and salt and put aside.
2. Warmth ghee in a saucepan on a medium flame and fry the crushed garlic, ensuring to not brown it an excessive amount of. Add the bottle masala to the garlic and fry for a couple of minutes until aromatic.
3. Add the cubed pumpkin and mutton together with its residual inventory and cook dinner for an additional 5 to seven minutes, nonetheless on medium flame.
4. When the pumpkin is cooked, add the coconut milk and the tamarind pulp. Modify the salt (if wanted) and simmer for a couple of minutes.
6. Serve scorching with fugias or bread rolls.
The Mumbai-based author and restaurant reviewer is keen about meals, journey and luxurious, not essentially in that order.