Kombdi Vade: The Unsung Hero Of Malvani Cuisine
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The Konkan region of the Western Coast stretches from Maharashtra to Mangalore and boasts a unique range of flavours and cuisines which evolves and adapt as you pass from state to state. Food along this stretch is usually seafood heavy in honour of the rich fishing grounds. However, as you move North, chicken holds just as proud a position in most area Maharashtrian areas.

Konkani cuisine is divided broadly into two categories - Karwar and Malvani. The former features liberal use of fresh coconut and is found mostly in the southern states of Karnataka and Kerala and the latter is more prevalent in Goa and Maharashtra. Malvani cuisine also features coconut quite heavily but it is characterised by a balance of sour elements such as kokum, vinegar, tamarind or raw mango. 

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One speciality of the region is Kombdi Vade. A spicy chicken curry, served alongside hot puffed vades (flatbreads), a drink of kokum-based sol kadhi and onions. The chicken curry or Kombdi is a rustic affair with each region having a different secret blend of spices to make it their own. The vades are made with a special flour mix of rice, ragi, wheat and even dal to make them soft but also hearty. This dish is packed with flavour and captures the region's spirit.



Lentil Mix

    1/4 cup White lentils, soaked for 4 hours

    1 tbsp Coriander seeds, soaked for 1 hour

    1 tsp Cumin seeds, soaked for 1 hour

    1/4 tsp Fenugreek seeds, soaked for 1 hour

Other Ingredients

    1 cup Rice powder

    1/2 cup Sorghum powder

    1/4 cup Wheat flour

    1/4 cup Gram flour

    Oil for deep frying


1.    Drain the soaked lentils, blend them to a smooth paste and set them aside.

2.    Mix the remaining ingredients with the lentil paste. Knead it, adding water until it forms a tight dough. Rest the dough for at least one hour.

3.    Make several lemon-size balls and flatten them into a circular disc.

4.    Heat 2-3 inches of oil and deep fry the vades.

Chicken Curry


    1½ pound chicken

    1 cup yoghurt

    1 tsp Pepper powder

    ½ tsp Turmeric

    2 tsp Red chilli powder Depends on the desired spiciness

Malvani Masala

    5 green cardamom

    1 cinnamon stick

    7 cloves

    1 star anise

    1 tbsp coriander seeds

    1 tbsp sumin seeds


    1 tsp cumin seeds

    1 cup tomato puree

    1 big onion chopped

    1 cup coconut milk

    2 tsp red chilli powder

    1 tbsp kokum syrup (soak the kokum in water for about 30 minutes)

    Salt as per taste


1.    Whisk together yoghurt, pepper, turmeric and red chilli powder. Cut the chicken thighs into small pieces and add them to the mixture. Cover and let it marinate in the fridge overnight.

2.    To make Malvani masala: Dry roast green cardamom seeds, cinnamon stick, cloves, star anise, coriander seeds and cumin seeds in a pan individually till fragrant. 

3.    Cool the roasted spices and grind them in a coffee grinder to a fine powder. This powdered masala can be stored in an air-tight container for a few months.

4.    Dry roast onion in a small pan. Transfer the onion to a food processor and grind with coconut milk to get a paste.

5.    In a heavy bottom pan heat oil and add cumin seeds. When the seeds splutter add onion and coconut paste. Simmer for about 5 to 7 minutes.

6.    Mix in the tomato puree and cook till the oil starts separating.

7.    Add marinated chicken and 1 tbsp of Malvani masala and red chilli powder. Let the chicken cook in its juices for a few minutes. 

8.    Now add desired water, and bring the curry to a boil.

9.    Season with salt and kokum syrup. Cover and cook till the chicken is soft and tender. Garnish with fresh coriander.