Pineapple sukkem (Goan-style Pineapple Curry)
Last year, on our annual trip to Goa, we ate at Mum’s Kitchen. This quiet little place located in a quiet little residential area near Miramar beach, serves what I like to call non-hippie-Goan food. By that, I mean that they don’t do grilled fish with white sauces and fries. The people who run the restaurant have put in a lot of effort in unearthing the indigenous Hindu Goan recipes and finding the origins of the Portuguese-inspired cuisine that is now Goa’s own. I was overcome with a deep sense of respect when I read the menu because I am usually happy to see a menu in India that does not feature Dal Tadka and Paneer Tikka (I have nothing against the Punjabi and “Moghlai” cuisine; I just feel there’s a time and place for everything.)
One of the dishes we ate that day was this Pineapple sukkem. A sukkem or a sukka in Marathi, is literally, a dry curry. It’s a side that can be eaten with breads and rice just as easily. (Remember the Chicken Sukka that Mrs.B made for me?) I was blown away by this dish. We ate it with the steamed rice cakes typical to Goa—Sannas. The sweet, fermented rice cakes mopped up the scant juices of the pineapple eminded mesukkem so perfectly and their softness offered a willing contrast to the succulent pieces of pineapple. In many ways, the pineapple sukkem reminded me of the pineapple gojju that my aunt makes back in Bangalore. Except, this one does not contain any coconut.
I’ve tried to recreate the recipe from what I remember. The chunky pieces of sweet and sour pineapple soak in the flavors of the cumin and chili and make for the most succulent pieces of pineapple you may have ever tasted. I also like the fact that it needs almost no prep and can be dished up in minutes.
- 1 ripe pineapple (peeled, cored, and chopped into 1-inch pieces)
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 tsp. cumin seeds
- 2-3 dried red chilies, torn
- ½ tsp. mild red chili powder
- ½ tsp. roasted cumin powder
- A pinch of asafetida
- A pinch of turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- 1 small lime-sized ball of jaggery or brown sugar (skip this if your pineapple is very ripe and sweet)
- 1 small bunch of cilantro, chopped
- Heat the oil in a wok or saucepan. Add the cumin seeds, torn red chilies, asafetida, and turmeric powder and sauté very briefly until fragrant.
- Tip in the pineapple and season with salt, red chili powder, and roasted cumin seed powder. Add about half a cup of water and cover to cook for about 10-15 minutes until most of the water is absorbed and the pineapple feels soft.
- Add the jaggery/brown sugar and cover for another 2-3 minutes until the sugar caramelizes.
- Sprinkle with freshly chopped cilantro and serve piping hot with chapatis/rotis/rice cakes/rice.