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Monday, 20 July 2020

Maharashtrian Kanda Khobra Vatan/Onion Coconut Curry Base

Kanda Khobra Vatan is a Maharashtrian style flavorful curry base. Kanda is Onion and Khobra means Coconut in Marathi, so basically, it is a curry paste obtained by grinding roasted onions and dry coconut along with some spices. This kanda khobra vatan forms the base for many authentic Khandeshi style Maharashtrian curries like Bhaji chi amti, Patvadi chi bhaji, Shevgyachya shenganchi bhaji, etc. This multi-purpose gravy base not only makes the curries rich and delicious but appealing as well by adding vibrant red color to them. You can make this curry base in bulk, freeze it and recreate a number of different curries of your choice(both veg and non-veg) with it within no time. 

What is a curry base?

 Have you ever wondered how different curries are prepared in a matter of minutes when we place an order in a restaurant? Restaurants can cook to order only because of the different curry base they keep ready at hand. They only have to saute or blanch the dish ingredients (veggies or mushrooms for instance) and add to the ready simmering curry base. 

There are different types of curry bases depending upon the region from which they originate or the color they lend to the curries or the ingredients used in them. For instance, 

What goes into my Khandeshi Style Kanda Khobra Vatan?

I belong to the North-Western region of Maharashtra which covers areas like Jalgaon, Malegaon, and Nasik. The region is known for its extremely spicy curries and the cuisine is called the Khandeshi Cuisine. The highlight of this cuisine is that peanuts, coconut, and Lavangi Mirchi (the hot variety of red chili) are widely used in everyday cooking. The curries are identifiable because of the red spicy oil that floats atop and is called "Tarang or Tarri". Let's have a look at the ingredients of this vegan and gluten-free curry base.
  • Onion is one of the key ingredients of this curry base paste. Finely chopped onions are stir-fried in little oil until they become brown in color.
  • Coconut is the second key ingredient. Dry coconut is either grated or sliced into thin flakes which is roasted in oil until golden brown and fragrant.
  • Red Chilies- Ideally the hot variety of dry chili, Lavangi Mirchi is used in Khandeshi curries which makes the dish fiery hot. I have used Kashmiri chili instead and that too after de-seeding. It gives a vibrant red color to the curry without making it very hot.
  • Garlic and Ginger- Few garlic cloves and a small ginger piece are used which make the curry flavorful.
  • Roasted Chana dal- It is called futana dal in Hindi and dalya in Marathi. A very healthy ingredient, often used in making chutneys, as a snack and in chiwda. Roasted chana dal makes the gravy thick and creamy and binds the other ingredients of the curry base, so do not skip it. It is easily available in Indian grocery shops and food marts. In case you cannot source it you may use same quantity of peanuts instead.
  • Oil - any cooking oil can be used here. We just require a little amount enough to roast all the ingredients.
All the ingredients are roasted using little oil separately until fragrant and allowed to cool down before grinding them to a fine paste. Little water can be added while grinding the paste to make it smooth and lump-free. This kanda khobra vatan is freezer friendly and stays good for more than a month. You just have to thaw it before use, saute the masala in little oil and use it as a base for many curries. In Khandesh this same masala is used for both vegetarian curries like Bhaji chi amti( Pakora curry), Patvadyanchi Bhaji, Shevgyachya Shenganchi Bhaji (Spicy drumstick Curry), Chavli chi usal (lobia bean curry) and Non-vegetarian curries like Chicken curry and Boiled Egg curry.

Dietary Notes:
  • Vegan
  • Gluten-free
  • Freezer Friendly
  • Multi-purpose
  • Healthy

Desi Base Curries @FoodieMondayBlogHop

It is Monday today and time for my new post on our Gourmet group on Facebook, Foodie Monday Blog Hop where a group of like-minded food bloggers contribute their creations every Monday depending upon a pre-decided theme. Each blogger gets a chance to propose 2 themes per week depending upon the alphabetic order of their names. All the members vote for any one of the theme and the one with maximum votes wins and is finalized as the theme for the week. Desi base curries is the theme for our 256th week on this group. The theme was proposed by Preethi di who blogs at Preethi's Cuisine.  Preethi di suggested that we come up with Indian base curries which can be used in making various curries. The theme made me realize that I hardly have any post in this category. I took it as an opportunity to showcase our typical Khandeshi style Maharashtrian Kanda Khobra Vatan. Meanwhile, do check out Preethi di's blog which has a new look now. I have recreated many recipes from her versatile space and bookmarked a few more like this Srilankan Raw Mango Curry and Shahi Tendli Masala.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 1 1/2 cup curry base

  • 8-10 garlic cloves
  • 1 inch ginger piece
  • 2 large onions finely chopped
  • 1 cup grated dry coconut or coconut flakes
  • 4-5 Kashmiri red chilies, stalked removed and deseeded
  • 1 tablespoon roasted chana dal
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  1. In a heavy bottom sauce pan or non-stick pan heat half quantity of oil and add chopped ginger and garlic. Saute it for about a minute before adding the deseeded dry red chilies. Fry the chilies for 30 seconds on low flame while stirring. Make sure you do not burn the chilies.

2. Remove the fried ginger, garlic and red chilies and allow to cool down in a plate. To the same oil add the roasted chana dal and fry it until golden brown.

3. Remove the dal and add dry coconut flakes to it and fry until golden brown and aromatic. Make sure you keep the flame low and keep stirring the flakes as they tend to brown very fast.

4. Remove the roasted coconut and transfer it to the same plate where the other fried ingredients are cooling down. Now, add the remaining oil to the pan and add finely chopped onions to it. Fry the onions until they become brown as if the onions are not fried well the curry gets a mildly sweet taste which we do not want in this case.

5. Allow the fried onions also to cool down. Transfer all the ingredients to a grinder jar and grind for couple of minutes. Add little water to the powdered paste to make it smooth and lump-free. Do not make a very wet paste, just be sure it is fine in texture.

6. Our aromatic onion coconut curry base is ready. Store it in an air-tight container and freeze it until use. You may alternatively add small portion of this curry base to an ice tray. Once it is set, remove the cubes and store it in air-tight container and use it as needed.

Recipe Notes:
  • This curry base is multi-purpose and can be use to make a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.
  • Ideally the hot variety of dry chili, Lavangi Mirchi is used in Khandeshi curries which makes the dish fiery hot. I have used Kashmiri chili instead and that too after de-seeding. It gives a vibrant red color to the curry without making it very hot.
  • Roasted chana dal is easily available in Indian grocery shops and food marts. In case you cannot source it you may use same quantity of peanuts instead.
  • Make sure you fry all the ingredients on a low flame until they become aromatic and turn golden brown in color. However, you may slightly brown the onions as if the onions are not fried well the curry gets a mildly sweet taste which we do not want in this case.
  • The vibrant red color of this curry base is due to use of Kashmiri red chilies which are not very hot but lend a beautiful color.
  • Make sure you allow all the fried ingredients to cool down completely before grinding it. 
I hope a few of you would love to try out this recipe. If you do so, feel free to share your feedback with us in the form of likes and comments in the comment section below this post. All your suggestions are also more than welcome. If you like my work and feel it is worth following, do hit the follow button at the top right corner of this blog. Your appreciation means a lot to me. For more recipes and new updates follow us on social media.

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  1. This looks delicious and fiery hot at the same time 😋. Loved the use of khopra in the masala ...

  2. Hey I did not know you are from Jalgaon area I grew up in vidharbha so yes we have enjoyed khandeshi food. This masala reminds me of stuffed brinjal that our neighbor used to make. Will love to try making it and it will be easy with this masala cha gola.

    1. Thank you di. I hail from Nasik distric and my in-laws reside in Malegaon. We love feiry hot curries. For thebharli vangi we do not use this masala. We make it with roasted peanuts and coconut powder.

    2. Please share your masala recipe with peanut and coconut

  3. Loving this spicy spicy masala for curries with coconut very different from our onion tomato masala for curries... I remember my Maharashtrian neighbor in Mumbai mentioned about this one.. but I never tried it.will try it soon now.

    1. Thank you Swaty. Do good ve it a try and share your feedback with us.

  4. I am in love with your traditional recipe Poonam. I am going to make all the base curry recipes that is shared this week. This khandeshi style masala looks so good with a fiery red colour. I have all the ingredients to make this. Thank you for sharing this fab recipe .

    1. Thank you di. Glad that you liked our traditional curry base. Do share your feedback with us once you try it. I have also bookmarked all the base curry recipes and can't wait to try them.

  5. Onion coconut curry base looks very colorful, very easy to preprae. Liked your idea of storing it in ice tray, surely it will save us in busy days.

  6. How beautifully you have explained here a traditional masala paste poonam, Simply love it ! Ice tray storing option is a great idea, thaw only that amount which we need instead of all the pastes at a time :)

    1. Yes Sasmita. Storing the curry base in the form of ice cubes is very practical as we take out the portion size required, thaw and use it. Thank you.

  7. An interesting curry base that I've learnt from you Poonam. I guess the dry coconut makes all the difference besides the onion and chillis of course as dry coconut has its own unique flavour. I would definitely love to try out the kanda khobra vatan but with less chillis.

    1. You are right di. Roasted coconut releases oil and adds a lovely nutty flavour and aroma to the curry. You can adjust the chilies used as per your spice tolerance.

  8. Wow...I am highly impressed...my mouth starts to water at the sight of kanda khobra masala!

    1. Thank you Ravneet. Do give it a try. I am sure you will love the unique flavor of the curries made with this curry base.

  9. Sounds amazing...nice recipe...

  10. I am always in love with spicy gravy. With onion, coconut and red chilli this looks like multi purpose curry base. Looks too inviting.

    1. Thank you Narmadha. Yes it is a multipurpose curry base.