100 shellfish (Molee in Kannada)- wash in running water till all the sand is removed. Previously we used a foot knife (mettu kathi in Kannada) on which we sat and expertly cut the cockles in half, discarding the empty shells. Nowadays, I just boil them whole in 1/4 cup water for one minute and wait for them to open, retaining the half with the shellfish.
For Masala: 10 red chillies or to taste; 1/4 tsp mustard seeds; 1 dsp corriander seeds; 1 pinch jeera seeds (cumin); 1/2 tsp khus- khus (poppy seeds); 6 pepper corns; 3 cloves garlic; 1 onion; 1/4 tsp turmeric powder; 3 tbsp grated coconut (fresh or dry- use whatever's available). Roast the dry ingredients in a pan on medium heat till crisp; cool and grind with 1/8 cup water to form a thick paste.
For Seasoning: 1 medium onion, sliced fine; 2 sprigs curry leaves; oil for seasoning. Heat oil and throw in the curry leaves. Fry for a minute or two. Add the onions and fry on medium heat till golden brown. Keep aside until required.
Add masala to boiled shellfish and simmer three minutes. Stir in the seasoning and remove from fire. Serve hot with white rice and dhall. This is one of the most delicious meals one can ever have.
NB: Instead of cockles crabs or prawns and potatoes could be used. Equally delicious.
There's nothing like traditional food to tickle the palate.