Bapama (grandmother in Konkani), who is my inspiration behind many things was always at her best. Her charming, energetic, generous, kind-hearted, lovable affectionate personality was loved by one and all. There are innumerable ways to describe her and she is one of my most favorite person. Bapama's house was always open with countless visitors visiting the family every year but she always treated everyone equally. She remembered everyone's favorite food and spent substantial time cooking with a lot of passion.
One summer break when I stayed with her, she treated me with the most amazing dishes. Draped in pure cotton saree and a white blouse, she had a towel on her shoulder to wipe out the sweat in her little, dim lit kitchen. She never asked for a fan or extra ventilation. One of my favorite dish was "Sungta Human" and Bapama made sure she made with fresh grated coconut and good quality shrimp. I could tell the love that went into making the dish with jumbo size shrimp - you had to taste to believe it! That was the one and only year I got to try the gigantic sized shrimp and I was overwhelmed with the size. The thought of asking for the recipe never came to my mind. It was my summer break & I was too busy having fun. Good company, good food, no studying, no routine, what more can one ask for at a young youthful age? Listening to music, watching movies, chit-chatting and giggling was all that we did. (Hanging around would be a better term as addressed by current generation).
Mid morning, Bapama would bring us a glass of freshly squeezed lemon juice with a pinch of saffron - an extraordinary drink! Followed by lunch, evening snack & a line- up of fabulous dishes for dinner. When we sat back late at night watching TV & playing cards, she would walk down the hallway from her bedroom to the living room with her red rectangular flashlight politely reminding that we had to wake up early the next morning to eat breakfast and I did (unwillingly). But I made sure, I never disappointed her.
I don't think I valued the effort she put in but I did realize a few years ago the pain & execution it takes to entertain and cook. Every time when we have guests at home, I always remember her and reminiscing those memories, reminds me to put in my best. Bapama, you are the BEST and this one's for you.
1/2 lb shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 cup fresh grated coconut
6 dried red chillies,roasted
marble sized tamarind
1/2 tsp hing (asafoetida)
1 tsp coconut oil
salt to taste
How it's made:
Grind coconut, red chillies and tamarind to a fine paste with a little warm water. In a pan cook shrimp for 2 mins, then add ground masala. Boil for a few mins, approximately 5-8 mins. Do not over cook. Shrimp tends to get chewy if overcooked. Add salt to taste and asafoetida. Drizzle with coconut oil. Serve with white rice. [I substituted with instant Shevai (Rice Noodles)].
Some people avoid using coconut oil due to health reasons. Canola oil can be substituted but coconut oil gives a very distinctive taste & aroma.
Bapama used to add one small chopped tomato. I've tried Bapama's way (which I call Bapama's Sungta Randayi), it gives a divine flavor to the curry.