My mom knew how to stretch an expensive ingredient like the small clams (kakka) that flourished in the waterways of Kerala: she’d simply bulk up the dish with more affordable stuff—like mangoes! Here, green (young, unripe) mango gives the sauce a sour note, while coconut milk smooths and sweetens. You could easily substitute shrimp, mussels, or scallops for the littlenecks.
- Green, Unripe Mango 1 cup, diced
- Juice of 1/2 Lime
- Coconut Oil 1 Tbs
- Black Mustard Seeds 1/2 tsp
- Curry Leaves 10–12, plus extra for garnish
- Garlic 3 cloves, chopped
- Indian or Thai Green Chiles 2, finely chopped
- Indian or Small Shallots 2, coarsely chopped
- Ginger peeled and coarsely chopped, 2 Tbs
- Coconut Milk 2 cups
- Ground Turmeric 1 tsp
- Salt 1 tsp
- Fresh Littleneck Clams 4 lbs, scrubbed
- Combine mango and lime juice in a small bowl and set aside to marinate.
- With measured spices and aromatics nearby, heat oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat, until oil is shimmering. (To test the heat, add a couple of mustard seeds. If they start to sizzle, the oil is ready.) Reduce heat to medium, add mustard seeds, and crackle them for just a few seconds until popping subsides, taking care they don’t burn. Immediately add curry leaves, garlic, chiles, shallots, and ginger and sauté for 2 minutes.
- Transfer this mixture to a large saucepan with a lid. Add a splash of coconut milk to the frying pan and deglaze, getting every scrap of oil and spice. Pour into the saucepan, then add the remaining coconut milk, turmeric, salt, and the marinated mango and bring to a boil. Add clams, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 5–8 minutes, until clams have steamed open. (Discard any that don’t open.)
- Serve on basmati rice with a garnish of curry leaves.
Excerpted from My Thali: A Simple Indian Kitchen by Joe Thottungal with Anne DesBrisay. Photography by Christian Lalonde. Copyright © 2023 by Thali Restaurant. Excerpted with permission from Figure 1 Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.