Fajeto — A Ripe Mango Curry
Fajeto in Gujarati means a ‘mortification/discomfiture/embarrassment/humiliation/awkwardness’, a ‘faux pas/gauche-ness’ or something that ‘leaves one red in the face’; and thereby hangs a pretty tale.
Legend tells us that a family was resting late on a summer afternoon, after a large and sumptuous meal of ‘puris and Aamras’ (Indian fried bread with mango juice and pulp flavoured with condiments.).
Now, at the time of this tale in India, the lady of the house would soften the whole mangoes, and ease the pulp and juice out with her hands through the hole formed by removal of the stem.
This caused the seed and a fair part of the mango pulp to remain within the skin and stuck around seed. This remainder was discarded and fed to the cows in the evening.
So, back to our lady of the tale. While the family snored through its afternoon nap, who should arrive, but a large party of their daughter’s in-laws. Very important, very important guests, indeed! What were the parents to do? It was just past lunch time, so, no food and in the mango season too! It becomes imperative for the family to serve a lunch, mangoes included.
The clever lady washed clean the seeds and skin of the mango in a vessel of water; added some curds to this flavoured water, condiment, spices and voila! A delicious mango curry was born. This was Fajeto. She cooked some Khichri [a quick and easy dish mix of rice and dal boiled with salt and turmeric powder (http://www.mumbaiblogg.com/food/recipes/khichri/ )] to go with the mango curry and literally, hey presto! One of the most delicious combinations of Parsi-Zoroastrian cuisine was perpetuated –Khichri and Fajeto. To this day, I doubt if there is a better combination of foods.
I could not swear to the authenticity of the tale; but I promise the Fajeto curry is incomparable in taste and texture.
1 Cup pulp of ripe mangoes;
1 Cup curds (may be replaced with plain yogurt where curds not available);
1 tbsp gram flour;
3 green chilies;
10 curry leaves;
1 inch piece of peeled ginger minced;
½ teaspoon turmeric (Haldi) powder;
1 tbsp jaggery;
Salt to taste;
1 tbsp ghee;
2 tsp cumin seeds;
½ tsp mustard seeds;
2 dry Red Chilies;
2 teaspoons chopped coriander leaves.
Mix the curd with 3 cups of water to make a smooth liquid of pouring consistency, Add the gram flour
1 inch piece of peeled ginger minced, ½ teaspoon turmeric (Haldi) powder to this liquid,
Heat on medium fire for about 10 minutes,
Stirring gently but continuously.
Stirring helps to achieve a proper smooth texture ensuring that the curds and water do not separate nor do the curds curdle further because of overheating.
In a separate vessel, heat the ghee,
When hot but not smoking, add the mustard seeds and the cumin seeds,
When the seeds begin to splutter, add the Red chilies, the green chilies and the curry leaves. (Please take care when frying the chilies, these are likely to burst and burn the hands and face. The smartest thing to do is to immediately cover the frying vessel after introducing the chilies in it take the vessel off the fire. The chilies will fry in the hot oil off the stove.)
Pour the curd and water mix slowly into the tempering of the seeds, chili and leaves in ghee.
Equally slowly introduce the mango pulp into the tempered curd mix stirring gently but constantly to ensure a smooth curry.
Sprinkle finely cut fresh coriander leaves,
Stir constantly but gently and further cook the curry on medium to low fire for about 10 minutes. (Please watch out for curdling).
If the curry appears to be curdling, immediately take it off the fire.
DO NO LET THE CURRY BOIL AT ANY STAGE OF THE RECIPE.