Puli Inji | Ginger Tamarind Chutney
Recipe for Puli Inji - a condiment prepared using ginger and tamarind as the main ingredients, a mainstay of Onam Sadya | Ginger and Tamarind Chutney
If you've tasted Puli Inji once, I bet you cannot type or read these words without salivating. Such is the reaction of the senses to this simple condiment, which is anything but simple in its flavours. It's one of the dishes that is served as a part of Onam Sadya. It also occupies place of pride on a banana leaf in quite a few Tamil Brahmin wedding lunches.
Don't reserve this condiment for Onam Sadya alone. You can prepare this as an instant pickle that can stay for a few days in the refrigerator. It tastes sensational with a simple curd-rice. The perfect balance of sour-spice-sweet-salty flavours is bound to get your mouth watering even if your tastebuds are feeling a little dead.
A tip to preparing a really good Puli Inji:
Keep tasting as you go, because tamarind, chilli, ginger, jaggery - all can have varying intensity of flavour depending on the variety used. Though you cannot modify the quantity of ginger midway through the recipe, the other three ingredients i.e. green chillies, tamarind and jaggery can be adjusted to get a perfect balance of flavours. You can even use some red chili powder when the puli inji is simmering.
- In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the coconut oil.
- To hot oil, add the mustard seeds. Once it splutters, add curry leaves and stir for few seconds.
- Add the finely chopped ginger and green chillies. (Use tender fresh ginger root, peel, slice and chop to get a very fine dice).
- Stir this on medium flame for 5-7 minutes until ginger turns a light brown in colour.
- Add tamarind extract**, asafoetida, turmeric, salt and bring to a boil. Allow this to simmer for 5 minutes until somewhat reduced and thick.
- Now add the jaggery and allow this to come to a boil. Simmer for 4-5 minutes until thick (of a chutney consistency) and glossy.
- Remove into a cup to serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use within 2-3 days.
**Preparing Tamarind extract for Puli Inji - Take 30 grams or 1/3 cup packed tamarind in a bowl. Pour 1.5 cups of boiling hot water over this. Cover and keep aside for 15 minutes. Crush and squeeze the tamarind pulp well to get the extract. Pass through a sieve and squeeze out all the juice. Use this tamarind extract / water for the recipe. Alternatively, slake 3 tsp of tamarind paste in 1.5 cups hot water and use that.
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