An all time Konkani cuisine favourite is bibbe upakari. Much sought after, adored, immensely loved dish of Konkani cuisine. A customary side dish, a must as part of the feast for Ugadi festival (new year for Hindus following the lunar calendar). Bibbe upakari is a stir fry of fresh, tender cashew nuts with ivy gourds. Sometimes even potatoes are used in this stir fry. A delectable combo!
Fresh, tender cashews are called bibbo in Konkani. And upakari means stir fry in Konkani. Cooked, tender cashews are stir fried with ivy gourds and potatoes to make a deicious stir fry, a side dish for lunch. This stir fry shows up as part of every Konkani cuisine special spread, every feast, celebration during the summers.
Konkani's love for "bibbo" - fresh, tender cashews are of epic proportions. And it's reasonable. :) These tender cashews on cooking are soft, creamy & delicious. These tender cashews are damn costly (due to the sheer amount of work involved in peeling them from the tender nuts), yet no matter what the price, Konkani's buy them, cook them with salt and eat it as a snack. An evening snack. Yes, soft, creamy, delicious tender cashews are devoured on like nothing else. As kids we loved them so much that we used to fight with our moms for more of these soft, creamy cashews. There's a funny Konkani saying that explains Konkani's love for bibbo/tender cashews: 'baile jalari vikkun bibbo khata' which means Konkani's will even sell their wives to buy tender cashew nuts. :-)
These fresh, tender, soft, fresh cashews are available only for a very short duration - sometime before summer starts (between Febraury and March). Cashews start growing in the month of January and they completely mature by the month of April. The growing cashew nuts are plucked and peeled to get these tender cashews. They're plucked long before they grow fully into a mature cashew nuts. Hence, these tender cashews are soft in contrast to the fully developed, dried cashew nuts that we otherwise get in the market.
Around Ugadi Konkani's all around the world get busy hunting for these bibbo's to make the customary Ugadi dish: Bibbe Upakari. :-)
We also use tender cashews (bibbo) to prepare a number of dishes. Bibbe saung, a spicy side dish called song is prepared using potatoes & onions. We prepare a dessert/payasam called as madgane using these tender cashew nuts & chana dal, which is again a must to make a Ugadi festival meal complete. Spicy side dish called bibbe sukke is also prepared using tender cashews (bibbo). A spicy coconut curry called batate human in Konkani, different kinds of payasams etc, will have these tender cashews floating around during their season. Konkanis use them in anything & everything possible to give them a rich feel & touch during the cashew season. Bibbe upakari - this stir fry, makes a great combo with soft, fluffy poori's and makes a phenomenal breakfast.
But all these dishes aside, I bet most Konkani's just love eating tender cashews (bibbo) as a snack. Just plain, soft, yummy, creamy, cooked cashews (bibbo), cooked with salt. Here's how to cook & enjoy these tender cashews (bibbo) in the best possible way:
Fresh tender cashews after cleaning look like these:
1. Put fresh, tender cashews into hot boiling water and allow them to soak for about an hour. This process helps remove all the dirt, mud sticking to the cashews (bibbo).
2. After an hour, wash the cashews (bibbo) a couple of times in different batches of fresh water.
3. Once they are clean, add them into a cooking vessel containing boiling water, add in 1 tablespoon of salt for 200 cashews (bibbo's) (that's how they sell them in packets of 50 & 100's). Add enough water to dip all the tender cashews.
4. Cook for 10 minutes and check if they are cooked. To know this remove one cashew out, peel and eat it. If it's not cooked, cook them for few more minutes.
5. Once they are well cooked & soft, strain out all the water and serve them steaming hot. It's a pleasure to peel these tender cashews and eat them piping hot. They taste good even after they cool down & also the next day. But they taste the best steaming hot. :-)
The skin of tender cashews darkens on cooking them:
Recipe of bibbe upakari - tender cashew nut stir fry:
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
Method of Preparation:
1. Add in fresh tender cashews into a cup of hot boiling water and allow them to soak for about an 1 hour. This process helps remove all the dirt, mud sticking to the tender cashews (bibbo).
2. After an hour, wash the tender cashews (bibbo) a couple of times in different batches of fresh water.
3. Once they are clean, peel them, halve them using your fingers and keep them aside. The two segments of tender cashews can be easily separated using your hands.
Peeled fresh tender cashews look like this:
4. Peel, chop potatoes into thin, long slices and keep them dipped in a bowl of water to prevent their oxidation. You can make bibbe upakari using only tender cashews with ivy gourds or use potatoes too to make the stir fry.
5. Wash the ivy gourds well, chop off both the ends and make thin slices of the ivy gourd by cutting them longitudinally into 4 or 6 or 8 pieces depending on their thickness. Keep them aside.
Now you are ready to make the stir fry/upakari:
6. Heat up a wok, add in oil and mustard seeds. When they start popping, add in urad dal and fry them until they start to brown, add in slit green chillies, broken pieces of dried red chilli, curry leaves and fry them for a minute.
7. Then add in sliced ivy gourds, 1/2 cup water and cook them closed on medium heat.
8. When the ivy gourds are half cooked (they change in colour), add in sliced potatoes and peeled, separated tender cashews.
9. Add in salt and another cup of water. Mix well and cook closed until they are all cooked through.
11. Add in grated cocount, mix well and remove off heat.
10. Serve hot bibbe upakari as a side dish for lunch.
Fresh tender cashews can be stored in the freezer (under minus 4 degrees) for a month. So tender cashews are sun dried at home so that they can be stored and used throughout the year. But these cashews become hard on sun drying and lose their original taste and softness. Dried tender cashews look like this:
Cashews that are store bought are fully grown cashews, mature ones peeled and dried.
Can't find tender cashews (bibbo)?
To prepare bibbe upakari if you don't find fresh tender cashews then you can substitute them with dried tender cashew nuts (like shown above) or substitue them with the cashew nuts you get in stores (packed cashews). To use both these varieties you'll have to soak them in water overnight, peel them if they have the skin on (the ones sun dried at home), halve them, cook them as mentioned above to use them in the stir fry (upakari) - but connoisseurs swear by the tender cashews. Nothing beats the tender, fresh, creamy cashews (bibbo in bibbe upakri) in this stir fry. Dried cashews remain a little hard even after cooking. Whereas tender cashews get soft on cooking as they are tender and are fresh. It's a heavenly, creamy taste & texture.
Couldn't find enough tender cashews to serve all at home?
1. If you find tender cashews, but find very little of them then it's an age old trick to increase the amount of ivy gourd, potatoes you use to make enough stir fry (upakari) to serve everyone.
2. Traditional bibbe upakari has equal measures of tender cashews, potatoes and ivy gourds. Adjust the amount of each ingredient you add depending on your liking and depending on the availability.
Find more Konkani cuisine side dishes here.
Tags: Bibbo, tender cashewnut, stir fry, upakari, tendle, batate, Ivy Gourd, tender cashews, side dish, lunch, konkani food, Mangalore food, Udupi cuisine, Konkani cuisine, konkani recipe.