Kalchi koddi used to be a very common phrase in the days gone by. Today it may not only sound stale but it may even be considered to represent something stale. Who would opt for yesterdays curry, after all?
But such wasn’t the case in those days. Kalchi koddi owes its origin to the fact that in the olden days there were no refrigerators. So our ancestors used to cook and eat fresh food everyday. Either they had the time, or they would make the time, for cooking daily, which was therefore a major activity and perhaps the prime duty of a housewife. And the only way people could preserve their food was by warming it up, perhaps even twice a day.
Now if you go on warming up the curry, it is bound to dry up and get gradually reduced in quantity. Of course one could always prevent the drying up process by adding more water so as to retain its fluidity. But such a thing wasn’t usually done. Why?
People in those days were not used to having a heavy breakfast. And since they usually worked hard in the fields, they needed a second breakfast. That was called pez, or congee, i.e., rice porridge prepared by somewhat overcooking rice in a lot of water. Now pez by itself is too bland and isn’t too palatable. So it would be had with something called tonddak launk, which could be some fish, meat, pickle or anything else that would go with the congee, and perhaps the most relishing of these was kalchi koddi which was an excellent sauce for the congee. Kalchi koddi, or “yesterday’s curry”, is a thickish paste that can be eaten either with a spoon or just with your finger.
If you really want to get a taste of it, you have to make prawn curry in a kunddlem. Then enjoy it with rice and let the leftover curry simmer in the kunddlem1 until it dries up into the delicacy that is kalchi koddi.
1. Kunddlem is a flattish earthen pot, used for most of the Goan cooking, except rice, which is cooked in a taller earthenware vessel called buddkulo. Similar to kunddlem, but slightly deeper and usually bigger, is tôplem.