Malvani and other Konkani seafoods — the potential loss of cuisines ?
Malvan is a village located in the Sindhudurg district of Konkan subdivision in Maharashtra. Malvan is famous for Malvani non-veg cuisine (especially seafood) — which is a unique spicy cuisine that has managed to exert its influence well beyond the confines of Malvan or Sindhudurg.
The Malvani Masala is easy enough to make and has the important quality of hiding failures in cooking. As a result, Malvani cuisine’s popularity has grown in leaps and bounds these last few decades. Restaurants across the state & increasingly along the coast have taken up serving Malvani cuisine while serving other cuisines is reducing.
The broader Konkan region from Thane to Goa & Dakshina Kannada has multiple culinary traditions which were very vibrant (heresay :P) until a few decades ago. But increasingly the cuisines from Thane to Ratnagiri are bowing down to the Malvani cuisine. If these continue, one can assume that a lot of delightful and subtle tastes of Konkani seafood may become difficult to find. Even in one of the most famous restaurants in Ratnagiri — Hotel Amantran — the food is more Malvani — probably as that’s what most customers want. Efficiency and markets have that effect on food traditions all over not just in India. All these other cuisines — Saraswat cuisine, CPK cuisine, Cuisines of Diveagar & Ratnagiri, Cuisines of Alibaug are only preserved in families till now but will they be going ahead remains to be seen. After an initial love affair with Malvani food, we (my wife & me) have ventured into trying some of the other dishes to great success.
While a great number of Foodies — bloggers, authors, and chefs are working hard to keep the old cuisines alive — link ; link ; link , there isn’t much to worry about. Given the sheer size of the Indian population, India seems very resistant to such erasures of culture & food which tend to be happening around the world.
Going through old cookbooks one wonders how much culinary customs have changed beyond recognition since independence. The famous Marathi cookbook Ruchira refers to Marathi people as predominantly Jowar, Bajra, and Rice eaters. Wheat has firmly taken over Maharashtra now and Jowar and Bajra are reducing year by year (though Rice manages to hold on). Globalization and even the local spread of easy and efficient foods (pasta, bread, wheat roti) have reduced the diversity of food globally. How much of these traditions will we preserve going forward? This may appear as a trivial thing to many but it bothers me.
My main aim of writing this blogpost is NOT TO MAKE ANY POINT but to find more such stories and more recipes that readers fear might get hard to find in the future or be overwhelmed by some efficient popular foods. Please add links to Food recipes you want to share — especially Sea Food.
Maybe my fear of the erosion of cuisine is exaggerated, but my generation is not that great at conserving food traditions as earlier generations were IMO.