Vegetable Caldeen/ Caldinho de Legumes - Goan Vegetable & Spiced Coconut Milk Curry (GF,V)
In Goa, the Catholics cook something called Caldeen which is how the Portuguese word “Caldinho” sounds like when spoken. So Caldeen is obviously a dish of Portuguese origin and influence. The word “Caldinho” (from Caldo which means soup) means “small or little soup”. Most Goan Catholic food is non-vegetarian and heavily influenced by Portuguese cuisine, directly or indirectly and this is true of the Caldeen as well.
One thing I’ve noticed about quite a few of the Portuguese influenced Goan dishes, is that there is usually a Portuguese equivalent of the same. One can also find that same dish being cooked with regional variations in other parts of the world which were once Portuguese colonies. So a dish like Caldo Verde, for example, would be cooked under the same name but with varying recipes, in different parts of the world from Portugal to Goa, Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde (South Africa) and Macau.
The Goan Caldeen is a yellow coloured mildly spiced coconut milk based curry/ stew usually made with fish or seafood. My vegetarian version of the dish uses a mix of vegetables like potatoes, green beans, carrot, cauliflower and green peas. As far the recipe itself is concerned, you will find variations in the spices used depending on who is cooking it. For example, some recipes will call for cumin seeds/ powder but no coriander seeds/ powder while some will ask for both. Others use tomato which will result in a deep yellow-orange coloured stew while the one without tomato would be a more yellow coloured one. With acidic ingredients like tomatoes, coconut milk has a tendency to curdle or split. This can be avoided by adding a little cornstarch to the coconut milk before adding it to the pot.
For the spiced coconut milk:
- Heat the oil in a pot, and add the onions and garlic paste. Sauté till the onions become soft and transparent and the raw smell of the garlic disappears. Then add the tomatoes and cook till they’re soft and mushy.
- Add the vegetables and stir fry for a couple of minutes and then add about a cup of water and the salt, then bring to the boil. Then turn down the heat and let the vegetables cook.
- In the meanwhile make the spiced coconut milk. Put all the ingredients for the spiced coconut milk in a blender jar with 1 cup of the warm water. Run the blender until everything grinds to a smooth paste. Add the remaining water and blend again. Strain the coconut milk, pressing out the coconut solids to express as much of the yellow coloured coconut milk as possible. Discard the solids.
- Once the vegetables are done (they should be cooked but be a bit firm and not mushy, and there should be very little water, about a quarter of a cup, left in the pot), stir in the spiced coconut milk. Cook for another 5 to 10 minutes on low heat.
- If you want your Caldeen a little more spicy, you can add a couple of green chillies sliced lengthwise. Some people like to finish off the cooking with some fresh coriander leaves as garnish.
- Serve hot with rice or sourdough bread. This recipe serves 4.