Duck Pepper Piralan

It was like a wisp of fading memory, hence in grayscale :)

Made some Duck piralan the other day, a spicy curry about which I have memories going back to many years ago. Alappuzha, the place that I am from is a coastal landscape with waterways, backwaters, lush green paddy fields and a thousand little ponds strewn all over. This abundance of water once supported a thriving duck farming industry, which now unfortunately is facing hard times. We were spoilt for choice with fresh fish, and a special indulgence on a day we are having guests over could very well be a duck curry. No wonder that Karimeen( Pearl Spot fish) pollichathu, and Kuttanadan Duck curry are the two most often cited culinary accomplishments of our part of the country.

Duck piralan is a spicy curry where the gravy is reduced enough to evenly coat the pieces of meat. It is very aromatic and tastes best the next day. 


Duck meat- cut into pieces - 2 lbs.
Cumin - 1 tsp.
Black peppercorns - 1 tbsp. to roast and 1 tbsp. or more to garnish
Fennel seeds - 1 tsp.
Cardamom - 3 pods
Whole coriander seeds - 3 tbsps.
Cloves - 6
Cinnamon - 1 two inch piece
Star anise - 1
Garlic - thinly sliced ¼ cup, whole 5-10 
Ginger - julienned ½ cup + chopped 1 tbsp. 
Green chilies halved - 4 
Turmeric - 1 tsp.
Vinegar - 1 tbsp.
Tomato very finely chopped - ½ cup
Curry leaves - 15 
Pearl onion - sliced thin 1 cup + chopped 1 tbsp.
Coconut oil - ¼ cup
Ghee (optional) - 1 tsp.
Salt - to taste

Heat a pan, dry roast Cinnamon, cloves, coriander, black peppercorns, cardamom, star anise, fennel seeds and cumin, stirring often for about 2 minutes in medium heat. Turn of the heat, transfer to a bowl. Now grind the roasted spice mix to a fine paste along with 1 tbsp. sliced onion and 1 tbsp. ginger by adding just enough water to get the blender going. Marinate the duck pieces for at least 30 minutes in a mixture of 1 tbsp. of the above spice mix, ½ tsp. turmeric, 1 tbsp. vinegar, and ¾ tsp. salt. 

Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a frying pan; add the sliced garlic, ½ tsp. turmeric, half of curry leaves, 2 slit green chilies and quickly sauté for a minute. Add the remaining ground spice mix and tomatoes, stir fry for another minute. Now add the marinated duck, and stir fry at high heat for about 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat to low, cook covered for 30 minutes. 

While the curry is cooking, heat the remaining oil and fry sliced onions till golden brown. Drain and keep in a bowl. Fry the remaining ginger, garlic, curry leaves and green chilies one by one till it begins turning brown, reserve. After the duck meat is cooked, turn the heat to high, add the fried ingredients and stir fry at high heat till the gravy thickens and coats the meat pieces evenly. Turn off the heat, add ½ tsp. ghee, and sprinkle with ½ tsp.- 1 tbsp. coarsely crushed black pepper. Mix and keep covered for 20 -30 minutes before serving


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