A little over a year ago, a sea snail found on the shores of Uppada Village in East Godavari district created a huge buzz. This large sea snail (scientific name: Syrinx Aruanus) was auctioned for Rs 18,000. This year, it’s not just about size but a curry that has captured the imagination of many residents and visitors around the Godavari River. The canals from the river have become the new hubs of snail traders and farmers who are feeding the region’s new trend – snail curry.
Edible land snails have traditionally used the French word for snail – escargot. The production of these snails is heliciculture, that’s quite a significant industry in countries like Spain, France and Italy where the snail has been part of the culinary traditions. What was once considered food for the less privileged, gradually became a delicacy thanks to the recognition by haute cuisine chefs. We can see the same trend play out in India too. Snail traders around the East Godavari district remove the flesh from the shells and display them on plastic sheets as more and more homes are discovering this new delicacy.
I spoke to Chef Suraj Kumar Sahoo, Executive Chef at the Novotel Vijayawada, Varun and Chef Sreenivas who hails from the East Godavari district, about this trend. According to them it’s the easy availability that is one of the key drivers of this trend. And then there are the perceived health benefits too. Locals believe can it cure prolonged illnesses like asthma and arthritis. Chef Suraj adds that the cleaning process is quite laborious. If you’re planning to source these snails and try making the snail curry (check out the recipe), you have to wash the snails with salt and turmeric powder. There are variations that include a curry made with peanuts, a recurring ingredient in Andhra cuisine. While the jury is still out on the health benefits, there’s little argument around the textures and flavours of this dish that is likely to gain more popularity in the days to come.
Snail Pepper Curry
Recipe – Nattalu Miryala Kura
Recipe courtesy – Chef Suraj Kumar Sahoo Executive Chef, Novotel Vijayawada Varun
- Snail 500 Gms
- Onion 200 Gms
- Ground nut oil 100 Ml
- Tomato 100 Gms
- Green chilli 20 Gms
- Ginger-garlic paste 15 Gms
- Crushed peppercorn 30 Gms
- Fennel 3 Gms
- Mustard seeds 2 Gms
- Tamarind pulp 20 Gms
- Turmeric powder 5 Gms
- Red chilli powder 5 Gms
- Spring onion 20 Gms
- Grated coconut 100 Gms
- Poppy seeds 15 Gms
For Dry Masala:
- Coriander seeds 20 Gms
- Bay leaf 3 Nos
- Cardamom 3 Gms
- Cinnamon stick 5 Gms
- Coriander seeds 20 Gms
- Red chilli whole 10 Gms
- Wash the snails at least two or three times in running water.
- Boil the snail in salt and a pinch of turmeric water for 10-12 minutes. Strain the snail and wash carefully in running water. Now separate the flesh from the shell with the help of a toothpick. Gently take out the white part of the meat and discard the black organ part as they are chewy, bitter and not edible.
- Make a paste out of coconut and poppy seed and keep it aside.
- For ground spices, dry roast the above-mentioned ingredients on slow heat and make a powder. Keep it aside.
- Heat ground nut oil in a thick bottom vessel. Put fennel seed, mustard seed and curry leaf in it. When it starts to splutter, add onion slice and cook till golden brown.
- Add ginger garlic paste to it. Cook for some time and add the chopped tomato to it along with salt. Cook slowly till tomatoes are mashed properly.
- Now add the spices like turmeric powder and red chili powder. Stir and add the coconut and poppy seed paste to it. Cook the masala on a slow flame.
- Add the snails to the cooked gravy and mix thoroughly. Cover the pan. Keep on a medium flame for 10 minutes by adding tamarind pulp to it.
- Add 15 grams of freshly ground dry masala along with the crushed pepper powder and mix gently. Finish the dish with coriander leaves and chopped spring onion.
- Serve with steamed rice or chapatti.
About Ashwin RajagopalanI am the proverbial slashie – a content architect, writer, speaker and cultural intelligence coach. School lunch boxes are usually the beginning of our culinary discoveries.That curiosity hasn’t waned. It’s only got stronger as I’ve explored culinary cultures, street food and fine dining restaurants across the world. I’ve discovered cultures and destinations through culinary motifs. I am equally passionate about writing on consumer tech and travel.