India is a country of diverse cuisines that intermingle ever so harmoniously that if one traverses from the northern tip to the southern, from eastern tip to the western, one comes across a plethora of delectable delicacies that have their similarities and yet are pleasantly different. The food of the west coast of India – the Konkan region – is a top favourite. In recent times, Konkan cuisine has become one of the most popular cuisines well showcased by a number of speciality restaurants that draw appreciative crowds. Though Konkan food is largely synonymous with fish, the variety of vegetarian dishes is equally impressive. Tender Coconut and Cashew Sukke has no competitor!
The Konkan area boasts of the spiciest and most delicious recipes of fish and other seafood. Konkani, the language spoken by the locals of this region, has different dialects with varied accents that make this belt unique. Konkan cuisine is as diverse as spoken Konkani. As you traverse the region you will sense the difference not only in the taste of the dishes but also in their names. Like for example a dish that may be called ‘sukha’ in the Malvan region will be called ‘sukke’ in Mangalore. But both mean a semi dry dish. Chana and Jackfruit Sukka has interesting texture.
The unique tastes of kokum and triphal make the cuisine of this region distinct from the others. As is the case the world over, locally grown crops play a key part in giving the cuisine its identity. Besides kokum and triphal, coconut too is a major crop and therefore is used generously. Kokum is a sweet-sour fruit whose dried skin is used for adding a gentle sourness to Konkani curries. One of the popular beverages that use kokum to good advantage is the Solkadhi. Triphal, on the other hand is used extensively in Goan, Malvani and Mangalorean cooking. When added to fish gravies and pulses, it enhances the flavour of the dish. It can be used both fresh and dried.
A vast variety of red chillies are available in the area with varying degrees of spiciness and colour. Though coconut is abundant in the Konkan, it is groundnut oil that is largely used as a cooking medium. In Karnataka, however, coconut oil is also used to add a special flavour to certain dishes. Of course one has to cultivate a taste to enjoy the flavour of coconut oil. Some like it but if you don’t you can always give it a miss and use groundnut oil instead.