"Spice a dish with love and it pleases every palate."
Plautus (c. 254 – 184 BC)
This is another recipe that draws from one of my favourite ever series of TV cookery programmes, "Floyd's India", and the accompanying book. My recipe for this spice paste from Goa evolved over a period following the show but has remained unaltered for many years. Very recently when I wanted to showcase this masala on my "Game4spice" tour of India on Instagram, I contacted my friend Claudette, the Goan proprietor of "No Worries Curries" to verify with her that my recipe was true enough to its Goan origin and was delighted to receive the thumbs up.
Galinha Cafreal ("Chicken Cafreal") is a stalwart in the culinary repertoire of the Goan household. Made from a fresh, fragrant, spicy and tart array of ingredients, typically chicken is marinated in the masala and shallow fried or cooked over a wood fire. I have in fact for years used it for turkey breast in an effort to eat more turkey on days that are not Christmas day. For convenience I simply coat slices of turkey breast in the masala and put them in a bag in the freezer until I want a simple supper - just defrost and shallow-fry. On the Goa leg of my "Game4Spice" tour I simply went a step further and used it to make "Pheasant Cafreal", but could easily have used it for partridge or rabbit. Thinking about it I can't remember the last time I used it for chicken.
I've for a while been thinking about using this masala with seafood and, back from the tour, I've eagerly given squid an outing and, delighted with the results, I will be posting the recipe shortly.
But I will certainly, in time to come, be experimenting (confident of success) with cuttlefish and prawns and I can also see this working with firmer fish such as gurnard and monkfish. With squid, prawns and cuttlefish I would happily use the same marinate-bag-and-freeze approach as I do with turkey (and currently with pheasant), but with fin fish I would just give fillets or steaks a 20-30 minute marinade in the fridge and cook them straight after.
Given it's simplicity to make and evident flexibility I thought this Cafreal Masala was worthy of a post in its own right and I hope I've conveyed a sense of confidence in readers to try it out adventurously.
For a darker, smokier flavour you can toast the whole spices in a dry frying pan until fragrant, then leave to cool spread out on a cold plate before proceeding with their grinding. For a lighter, more perfumed result, this step can be (and in my case usually is) omitted.
Ingredients (4 servings)
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
½" piece of cinnamon stick or cassia bark
1" piece of ginger, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
10-15g fresh coriander leaves and finer stalks, roughly chopped
4-5 green chillies (or to taste), roughly chopped
White wine vinegar (approx 40ml)
Grind the whole spices (toasted or otherwise) to a powder in a spice or coffee grinder.
Put ground spices in a blender with the ginger, garlic, coriander and green chillies. Blitz the ingredients then gradually incorporate the vinegar until you achieve a fairly smooth paste.
Use immediately or store in an airtight jar. This masala will keep for months.
"Floyds India", Keith Floyd (2001), pp. 89: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Floyds-India-Keith-Floyd/dp/0007160054