Saturday, April 12, 2008

Puli Inji – Sweet and sour ginger sauce

A perfectly balanced condiment, where in fresh ginger is fried and cooked in the sourness of tamarind and sweetness of jaggery and spiced up with the pungent taste of ginger itself. Another indispensable item on the extreme left of “thooshan ela”, the narrow and curved part of plantain/banana , this dish takes time to cook and thicken to its right consistency. My grandma’s version is the tastiest preparation I have ever tasted in my life. Though my mother follows the same recipe, which she has passed on to me, both of us have never been successful in bringing that right balance of sweetness and sourness , my grandma used to achieve in her preparation. The taste and aroma of her puli inji still lingers in my mouth…….another one of my sunken treasures……

Ingredients: - (Approx.)
  • ½ cup minced fresh ginger, tightly packed
  • 3-4 Indian green chillies, finely chopped
  • 4-5 curry leaves, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds/Uluva
  • ¼ tsp Uzhunnu parippu/urad dal/black gram
  • 2 whole dry red chillies
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 3-4 jaggery/sarkkara cylinders, with 1 ¼ inch length and ¾ inch width OR to taste
  • 2-3 tsp tamarind concentrate OR to taste
  • ¼ tsp chilly powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
Directions: -
  • In a small deep saucepan or stone vessel, heat water, tamarind paste, melt jaggery with red chilly powder, turmeric powder and salt and bring to a boil and then keep the lid open and place a stirring utensil in it and let it simmer until it reaches half the quantity of the water. Adjust the tamarind-jaggery balance by doing a taste-test here and adding the extra bit if necessary. There should be a proper balance between tamarind and jaggery. So adjust according to your personal taste.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a shallow pan and splutter mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, urad dal and dry red chillies. Add minced ginger, green chillies and curry leaves and fry until ginger turns golden brown, in low flame. Enjoy the wonderful aroma coming off the pan at this point. Using a slotted spoon, transfer all the ingredients from the pan, including the oil (there will not be much oil left), to the saucepan where the tamarind and jaggery mixture is simmering. Once more bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low flame and let it thicken until the oil layers floats on top. At this stage, turn off the stove. It thickens more when it sits in the room temperature.
  • This can be made in advance and stored in refrigerator for a long time. The oil floating acts as a preservative here. It can be served not only at Sadya but also a great condiment for Biryani
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