Sabudana Khichadi

Can any ‘Upas’ season kick off without the all-time-favorite dish from Maharashtra – Sabudana (Sago) Khichadi? Over the years, when asked the question ‘What would you like for breakfast?’ by my mom, the standard answer from friends visiting from outside Maharashtra has always been ‘Sabudana Khichadi! (or Poha). In a recent conversation with a friend, when I mentioned I was planning to do a few posts on ‘Upas’ dishes, she said “hope you don’t forget Sabudana Khichadi”. So here goes the recipe from my mom’s kitchen. There are, am sure, many varieties to the prep across households…but this is how we make it at home.

Ingredients:

  • Sabudana (Sago) – the large variety – 1 cup
  • Groundnut Powder – 1/2 cup (roasted groundnuts, coarsely ground)
  • Green chilly – 1 large or two small, cut into slices
  • Jeera – 1/2 tspn
  • Ghee or Groundnut Oil – 3 to 4 Tablespoons (in liquid form)
  • Salt to taste (1/2 to 3/4th tspn usually suffices for the above quantity of Sabudana)
  • Sugar – 1/2 tspn
  • Boiled Potato (Optional) – 1 -medium-size, cut into 1 sq cm slices or cubes

Procedure:

The Sabudana needs to be soaked for a good 5-6 hours. So if you plan to make the khichadi for breakfast, it is best to soak the Sabudana the previous night. Wash it gently and soak it in water that is about level with the quantity of sabudana. The resultant soaked sabudana has to be soft. There are many varieties of sabudana available- some tend to need more water to soak and some less. So if you feel that the sabudana is still hard after a couple of hours, add some more water to it.

To get started with the Khichadi, add salt, sugar and the groundnut powder to the soaked sabudana and mix well.

In a pan, heat the ghee/oil, add the jeera, then the green chillies and fry till the chillies turn a little whitish in colour. Then, if you are adding potatoes, add the sliced potato (along with a little salt for the potato only) and stir till the potatoes turn a little brownish. Then add the sabudana mix prepared earlier and mix well. If the sabudana is a little hard, sprinkle some milk to soften it up. Keep stirring as it cooks. The sabudana usually gets cooked in 2-3 minutes.

Garnish with freshly grated coconut, coriander or even squeeze a little lemon juice over it – to add to the taste. Serve hot.

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Daaleecha Sambaaraa

We all have our ‘comfort foods’ – and Daaleecha Sambaraa or Daaleechi Amti…or, as the Nadkarni family tends to refer to it, “Banda aamti” (after our ancestral hometown of Banda) is one such. A Sunday lunch of fried fish, kuleeth (horsegram) usal, kusbeer, Daaleecha Sambaaraa and Solkadhi….coupled with loud & boisterous conversation as we linger over the food long after our plates are dry…is enough to satiate the simple Nadkarni soul!

So without further ado, I present here a simple dal recipe that is unique in its taste. The interesting thing about this dal preparation is that NO OIL is used!

Version 1: With Drumstick-

Ingredients:

  • Toor Dal – 1 cup
  • Onion, medium size – 1, finely chopped
  • Drumstick – 1, with its skin removed and cut into approx 2 inch pieces. 7-8 pieces is what you would need
  • Fresh grated coconut – 2 to 3 tablespoons
  • Green Chillies – 4 to 5
  • Haldi (Turmeric) – 1/2 tsp
  • Tamarind – size of 1 lemon
  • Coriander
  • Salt to taste

Version 2: With Jackfruit seeds (see further below)

Procedure:

Keep about 1 tsp of the chopped onion aside

Soak the tamarind in some water and keep aside

Pressure cook the dal with some water for 2 whistles. Keep Aside

In a pan, pour about 2 cups of water and add the drumstick pieces, the remaining chopped onion, 2-3 green chillies (slit down the middle), turmeric and salt to taste (should be sufficient for the dal too). Cover with a lid and steam till the drumstick is fully cooked.

Then add the cooked dal and tamarind pulp (from the tamarind soaked earlier) and boil for a good five minutes – till the raw smell of tamarind fades away.

While the above is being steamed & boiled, grind the grated coconut, 1 tspn of chopped onion, 1 or 2 green chillies (depending on how much spice you can take) with a little water. Coarsely grind – take care that it doesn’t become a fine paste. This is known as the ‘Vatap’ or ‘Goli’ in Kokani.

Add this ‘vatap’ to the boiled dal above and bring it to a light boil. Add chopped coriander leaves and serve.

Daaleecha Sambaaraa is best eaten with rice

Daleecha Sambaaraa with Jackfruit Seeds:

Note – Whenever you have Jackfruit, wash the seeds thoroughly and dry them – in the sun, if possible- for a few days and store. You can make a number of delicacies with them and also use them to add some zing to other dishes like this dal or some bhajis (sabjis)

If you are lucky enough to lay your hands on jackfruit seeds, then this is the slight variation in the prep of Daaleecha Sambaaraa:

Remove the fine shell on the jackfruit seeds (if it still remains) and chop them into two or, at max, four pieces. When pressure cooking the dal, cook it with the jackfruit seeds and the chopped onions (unlike in the drumstick version where you cook the onion with the drumsticks)

Rest of the procedure is the same as in the drumstick version of the dal.

Phanasaachi Bhaji (Raw Jackfruit Bhaji)

Being Mother’s day today, what better occasion than to post a few recipes that my mom makes wonderfully well – which are nothing ‘elaborate’, but rather part of our everyday diet and those that one tends to long for after extended periods away from home. Here is the first of these – made from something that I love both in its raw form (as this Bhaji) as well as in its ripened avatar – Jackfruit or ‘phanas’ (as it is called in the konkan region)

Incidentally, raw jackfruit bhaji (or sabji) can be made at two ‘stages’ of the raw jackfruit :

  • One is when the jackfruit is really a ‘baby’ – small, tender, yet to be formed and is about 3/4th of a foot or smaller in length
  • Two is when it is fully grown and mature but yet to ripen.

In the konkan region, there is a special term used for each stage. The first baby raw phanas is called ‘Kuvra’ or ‘Kuvro’ while the mature one is called ‘Garyaa-Gotyaacha Phanas’.

This recipe is for a ‘kuvra’ phanas.

Note: While buying a Kuvra phanas, make sure that it is green…and the stem is also green. This is an indication of freshness.

Ingredients:

  • Kuvra Phanas / Raw Jackfruit – 1 (about 3/4th foot in length)
  • Toor Dal – 4 tspns
  • Onion (medium size) – 1, finely chopped
  • Fresh Coconut – grated – 1/2 cup
  • Whole Black Peppers – 8 to 10
  • Jaggery – 1/2 tsp
  • Mustard Seeds (rai) – 1/2 tsp
  • Turmeric (haldi) – 1/2 tsp
  • Asafotida (heeng) – 1/2 tsp
  • Green Chillies – 1 or 2, slit
  • Red Chilly Powder – 1/2 to 3/4th tsp
  • Oil – 1-2 tspns
  • Salt to taste

‘Prepping’ the Phanas:

The raw phanas is full of a kind of liquidy resin, called ‘dinka’ in Marathi/ Konkani. So before you cut the phanas, spread some old newspapers and apply some oil on the knife you use as well as smear some on your hands – else it gets difficult to get the sticky resin off later. As you start cutting the phanas, the ‘dinka’ starts oozing out – hence the old newspapers. Keep wiping off the ‘dinka’ with old newspaper bits.

Cut the phanas along its length into two halves. Then cut the individual halves into 2 or 3 pieces, so that each piece is approximately the size of your palm. Put these large pieces in water as you cut them and then wash them thoroughly 2-3 times.

Pressure-cook these pieces adding a little salt & water-  for 2 whistles & an additional 2 minutes on a low flame. Allow this to cool and then get to chopping the phanas for the actual bhaji. The pressure cooking is a short-cut to ensure that the thick skin/ cover of the phanas comes off easily.

Take the cooled pieces and cut out the skin as well as the thick portion at the centre of the phanas – the core. There is a special term for this portion as well in the Kokani (malvani) language – called the ‘maav’. The remaining part of the phanas is the edible part. Chop this into approximately 1 sq cm pieces. Now you are ready to make the bhaji

Procedure:

Wash and soak the toor dal in water for a few hours. (So make sure you do this either the previous night or a few hours before you intend to make the bhaji)

Grind the fresh grated coconut and the black peppers coarsely – it should NOT become a fine paste. Just ensure that the peppers get properly ground. Keep aside.

In a pan, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. Once they pop, add the haldi, heeng and green chillies. Then add the chopped onion and saute till the onion turns transluscent. Next add the soaked toor dal and saute some more. Then add some water (about 1/4th cup) and steam, putting some water on the lid too.

Once the onion and dal is fully cooked, add the chopped phanas, red chilly powder and salt to taste (remember you have pre-cooked the phanas with some salt too – so account for that!). Mix it all together and steam, covering the pan with a lid.

Then add the ground mix of coconut+peppers and the jaggery, stir till they blend well with the rest of the bhaji and steam some more for a bit – and your Phanasaachi Bhaji is done!

Have with rice or chappaties (rotis).

Note: You can use Black peas (Kaala Vaataana) instead of Toor Dal too (just that kaala vaataana is not that easily available)

Aamba Daal

Aamba daal is one of those quick-n-simple recipes that make you wonder how such a simple recipe can taste so heavenly. Raw mango being an essential element of Aamba Daal (sometimes also referred to as ‘Vatli Daal or ‘Kairichi Dal’), it is a dish associated with summer.

In fact, during haldi-kunku gatherings – a popular social tradition in Maharashtra – in the month of Chaitra as per the Hindu Calendar, Aamba Daal & Kairi Panha is the standard menu. For me personally, Aamba Daal is very strongly associated with childhood memories of the 11-day Ganpati festival that used to be celebrated with great gusto at the Maharashtra Mandal in Chennai. For reasons I have never questioned, Aamba Daal used to be the standard menu on the last day of Ganpati – post visarjan – when we would trudge back after bidding adieu to Ganpati & eleven eventful evenings and be fed Aamba Daal to get our spirits up.

Ingredients:

  • Chana Daal – 1 cup
  • Green Chillies – 1 or 2
  • Fresh, grated coconut – 1 tablespoon
  • Raw Mango (grated) – 1 to 1.5 tablespoons (This depends on how sour the raw mango is – the more sour it is, the less you need)
  • Sugar – a pinch
  • Oil – 2 tablespoons
  • Mustard seeds (Rai) – 1/2 a tspn
  • Asafoetida (hing) – 1/4th tspn
  • Turmeric (Haldi) – 1/4th tspn
  • Dry red chilly – 1 (optional)
  • Coriander (chopped) – 1 tablespoon

Preparation:

Soak the Chana Daal for 2-3 hours at the minimum. Transfer it to a strainer and leave it for 10-15 minutes so that all the water is completely drained.

Then add salt & green chillies and grind it to a very coarse consistency. When using a mixie, this gets done in a jiffy so watch out as you don’t want a paste. Transfer to a bowl and add the coconut, raw mango and pinch of sugar to this, mixing well.

Make the tadka (or Phodni – as it is called in Marathi) in a tadka laddle or small pan. Heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. When they pop, turn off the gas. Then add the Hing, Haldi and red chilly (cut into 2 pieces). The red chilly is optional – it adds a certain flavour to the dish but also ups the spice levels.

Cool the phodni to room temperature. Then pour it over the Chana Daal mix & blend. Top it off with chopped coriander and get ready to dig into this yummy summer treat.

Aamba Daal can be eaten as is – as a snack or in lieu of a salad.

 

Mooga Gaathi Aamti

I am always amazed by the sheer variety of sprouts used in the cuisine in Maharashtra. On a recent visit to a traditional-style grocer (which is such a pleasant change from the supermarkets which are fast becoming a fixture in urban India), I saw a whole array laid out – and I must admit that I couldn’t identify all of of them correctly.

One of the popular variety, not just in Maharashtra but in many parts of India, is Moog (‘Green Gram’ in English, ‘Moong’ in Hindi). And in our family, Aamtis (curries) made from Moog are a favorite.

We primarily make two types of Moog Aamtis – one is ‘Mooga Gaathi‘, which this post is about and the other is the ‘Moog Green Aamti‘ – which is slightly different. Mooga Gaathi has its origins in Karwar, but is popular in our part of Konkan as well.

BTW, neither of the moog aamtis use onion or garlic – hence they come under the category of  what is known as “shivraakh” food in this region. Specific days of the week or certain festival days are reserved for Shivraakh cuisine. Moog Aamtis naturally find favour on Shivraakh days.

Note: The process of sprouting is a little long-drawn, taking about 36- to-48 hours. So you need to plan the preparation of this dish accordingly.

Ingredients:

  • Moog – 1 small cup or bowl
  • Coconut – pieces of small thin slices of fresh coconut (known as “kaatalya’ in Malvani Kokani), 1 tsp
  • Cashewnuts – pieces, 1 tablespoon
  • Salt
  • Turmeric (Haldi) – 1/2 tsp
  • Curry Leaves (Kadipatta) – 7-8 leaves
  • Tamarind – size of one small lemon

    For the Vaatap or Goli:

  • Dry Coriander seeds (Dhaniya) – 1 tablespoon
  • Red Chillies – 4 to 5
  • Coconut – fresh, grated – 1 cup
  • Black peppercorns – 6 to 7
  • rice/ rice flour – 1/2 tsp

For the Phodni or Tadka:

  • Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Asafoetida (Hing) – 1/4 tsp
  • Curry Leaves (Kadipatta) – 5-6 leaves

Procedure:

Stage #1 : The Sprouting

Soak the moog overnight in water. Drain the water the next morning and put them into a sprout maker. If you don’t use/ have a sprout maker, use any sieve-like vessel and cover it or tie the soaked moog in a muslin cloth. Keep this aside for sprouting. Moog typically take at least 24 hours to sprout (longer is you live in cold climes).

Note: In Indian cuisine (vs, say, Chinese or South East Asian cuisines), the sprouts are not grown very ‘long’.

After the Moog have sprouted, you have an option of removing the skins of the sprouts. Some folks like to use the sprouts with their skins while some are very particular about taking them off. To remove the skins, again soak the sprouted moog overnight in water. The skins rise to the top which you can separate out. A few stray stubborn skins that refuse to come off can be gently removed by hand.

Now we move on to the actual preparation.

Stage #2: Cooking the sprouted moog

Pressure cook the sprouted moog adding 1 tsp of ‘kaatalya’ (small pieces of thin slices of fresh coconut), 1 tablespoon cashew bits, salt to taste (for these proportions, about 1 tsp flat of salt suffices), 1/2 tsp turmeric (haldi), 7-8 curry leaves (kadipatta). Add water to the vessel such that it is level with the mix.

Moog cook quickly – so usually 1 whistle followed by 3-4 mins on low heat is enough to cook the moog.

Set aside and allow to cool down

Parallely, soak the tamarind in a small bowl in slightly warm water – and set aside for an hour or so.

Stage #3: The Vaatap or Goli

Like with most aamtis or gravies from this region, the vaatap or goli is important – as it is the base for the dish.

For this, first dry roast 1 to 1.5 tablespoon of dhaniya (dry coriander seeds) and keep aside. Next, separately dry roast 4-5 red chillies and keep aside. Once both have cooled, add them to 1 cup of fresh coconut, then add 6-7 peppercorns and 1/2 tsp of rice or rice flour. The rice or rice flour is used as a thickening agent. Add a little water and grind to a fine thick paste. This is how it looks:

Note : You can make this Vaatap earlier and store it in the freezer – and pull it out for use when required.

Stage #4: Putting it all together

Now that you have got all the important ‘sub-components’ done, you are ready to make the Mooga Gaathi.

Make the phodni or tadka by heating 1 to 1.5 tsp oil in a pan, add 1/2 tsp mustard seeds and wait till they splutter, then add 1/4th tsp asafoetida (hing) and 5-6 curry leaves and saute for a min or so. Then pour the cooked moog and add on the tamarind extract (extracted from the tamarind you’ve soaked earlier). Boil for a full 5 mins till the ‘raw’ smell of tamarind goes away. Then add the vaatap and bring to a light boil. You can add a little more water if required to adjust how ‘liquidy’ you want the aamti to be, before bringing it to a boil. Mooga Gaathi is usually a thick gravy.

Eat with rice or chappatis / rotis.

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Golyaachi Aamti or Golyaachaa Saambaaraa

When we started this project, a number of relatives and friends got in touch giving us encouragement and suggestions for recipes that they’ve all grown up with or recollect from childhood. One recipe which was common across the various suggestions was Golyaachi Aamti or Golyaachaa Saambaaraa. This can be roughly translated as “balls curry”.

This vegetarian dish is indeed a delicacy from the region. Various regions of Maharashtra as well as other parts of India have a similar or equivalent dish. The recipe below is the way it is made in the Sindhudurg / Ratnagiri region. And yes, even within this region, different families and regions have their own little variations or special touches. The recipe below is from my mom and grandmother’s kitchen…

Ingredients:

Part #1 : For the ‘Golay’ or ‘Balls’

  • Gram Flour (Besan) – 5 tablespoons
  • Onion – 1 big or 2 small – finely chopped
  • Ginger-Garlic Paste – half a tsp
  • Red Chilly Powder – quarter tsp
  • Turmeric powder (Haldi) – half a tsp
  • Asafoetida (Heeng) – half a tsp
  • Oil – 1 tsp
  • Salt – 1 tsp

Part #2 : For the Goli or Vaatap

  • Coconut, fresh – grated – 2 tablespoons
  • Peppercorns – 5 to 7
  • Chopped onion (use from part #1)

Part #3 : For the Gravy or Aamti

  • Tamarind – size of one lemon
  • Oil – 1 tsp
  • Turmeric Powder (Haldi) – quarter tsp
  • Red Chilly Powder – quarter tsp
  • Salt – half a tsp
  • Chopped Onion (use from part #1)

Procedure:

Soak the tamarind in half a cup of water. Keep aside.

Also keep about 2 tsps of the chopped onion aside (one tsp for the Vaatap and one tsp for the Aamti)

First, we get the Vaatap done. Like in most curries from kokan, the Vaatap is the base for the curry. Grind the grated coconut, peppercorns and 1 tsp of chopped onion into a fine thick paste, adding water as required. Keep aside.

Next, we make the Golay or balls. Add the ginger-garlic paste, chilly powder, turmeric powder, asafoetida and salt to the rest of the chopped onion. Pour 1 tsp of oil on the palm of your hand and crush the mix well, till the mix is well blended. Add the besan to this mix along with some water. The resultant dough should not be very thick or dry. At the same time, it should not be watery. It should be thick enough to roll into balls. The picture below should give you an idea of how the dough should look:

Roll into small lemon-sized balls. These are the “Golay” of the “Golyaachi Aamti”. Note that these DON’T really get ‘rolled’ into perfect balls like when you make laddoos – since the dough consistency is not thick enough. So a ‘Gola’ looks something like this :

Keep the golay aside.

Now we start on the ‘Aamti’ or the curry. In a pan heat one tsp of oil and add 1 tsp of the chopped onion that you had kept aside. After the onion becomes brown, add two cups of water and the turmeric (quarter tsp), red chilly powder (quarter tsp) and salt. Let the water boil really well. Now drop the golay or balls into the water along with the paste of the tamarind that you had soaked initially. Note that the gas should be on full flame while dropping the balls. Reduce the flame once you are done.

The balls rise to the surface once they are cooked. Boil till this happens. Then, continuing on the reduced heat, add the ‘goli’ or ‘vaatap’ and bring the aamti to a low boil. And you are done!

Some folks add some ‘Goda Masala’ (a masala used fairly commonly in this part of the country) to the gola mix. Some add a bit of ‘Dhaniya-Jeera’ powder too. Some families like adding one or two bits of tiny coconut pieces inside each ball. So, basically, you can try adding these little touches to your Aamti too!

Golyaachi Aamti goes well with Rice or Chappatis.

karmana

I guess it is inevitable that I let my professional avatar spill over onto most other aspects of life too. One example is to ‘structure’ or  ‘categorise’ almost everything around me – which also extends to food. So when I think of a meal I tend to categorise dishes into the standard categories like dry veggies, daal, aamti, salad, chutney, etc etc. But then, once in a while, comes along a dish that cocks a snook at me – gently suggesting that I should learn to sometimes just ‘let things be as they are’. Karmana is one such dish!!

Karmana is a unique dish which, although it looks at first glance like a green chutney, is actually to be eaten mixed with rice – like you would eat a daal or an aamti or a kadhi. It has its own unique taste – which is difficult to describe. So all I can say is – TRY IT!  Simply yummmmy. Karmana-Rice with Kachrya or fried fish is a great combo, incidentally. And what’s more – its also a “make-in-a-jiffy’ dish.

Ingredients:

  • Coconut – fresh, grated – 1 vaati / katori (small cup)
  • Green Chillies – 2 or 3
  • Jeera (cumin seeds) – 1 tsp (heaped)
  • Tamarind – size of half a lemon
  • Salt – 1/2 tsp (adjust as per taste)
  • Coriander – 1 tablespoon
  • Heeng (Asafoetida) – 1/3rd tsp
  • Mustard Seed – 1/3rd tsp
  • Ghee – 1 tsp

Procedure:

Grind the coconut, green chillies, jeera, tamarind, coriander and salt with a little water to a fine thick paste. Then ‘liquify’ it a bit by adding a little water – till the consistency reaches a state where the mix is slightly more liquidy than your typical dosa chutney. It has to be ‘flowy’ enough to easily blend with rice, basically.

Season the above by heating 1 tsp of ghee in a separate bowl / seasoning ladle and adding on the mustard seeds and heeng. Add this to the mix above – and your karmana is ready!

Remember that the mix itself is never heated / cooked. So remember to pour the seasoning onto the mix and NOT pour the mix into the heated bowl that you may have used for the seasoning.

Mix with rice and add a dollop of ghee…the ghee lends it that amazing touch!

Karmana is yet another ‘silent gem’ from the kokani recipe storehouse that you rarely hear of/ find outside of homes. Check it out….

kachryaa – so quick n simple!

When you feel like adding a little extra zing to your everyday meal…or you are simply bored of making the ‘same old dish’ from veggies like raw banana, yam, brinjal (eggplant), potato or even pumpkin, kachrya can come to your rescue. That too in a jiffy…

Most regions in India have a variety of this dish. The recipe below is the way it is made in our part of the world.

Ingredients:

  • Any one or more of the following vegetables : Raw Banana, Yam, Potato, Pumpkin or Brinjal (the large variety only). Wash, peel and cut into thick slices (about quarter inch thick) – squarish/rectangular in shape – About 10-12 slices
  • Turmeric (Haldi) – 1/2 tsp
  • Red Chilli Powder – 1 tsp
  • Asafoetida (Heeng) – qtr tsp
  • Rice Flour – 2 tablespoons
  • Salt – about 1/2 tsp
  • Oil – as required

Procedure:

Add the salt to the vegetable slices and keep aside for 10 minutes. Drain most of the water that gets formed – leaving about 1 tsp of the water with the slices.

Add in the turmeric, chilli powder and asafoetida, mix well and again leave aside for 10-15 mins.

Take rice flour in a plate, roll each slice of the marinaded veggie slice in the rice flour till it is completely coated. Dust the slices so that no thick lumps of rice flour cling to the slices.

Heat 2-3 tsps of oil on a tava (flat pan) and shallow fry the rice flour-coated slices. Cover the tava with a lid and fry on low heat. Usually you can fry about 5-6 slices in one lot (tho it depends on the size of the slices). Turn over the slices after about 5 minutes, when one side of the slices gets done. At any stage, add a teaspoon or two of oil along the sides if you find the oil is not enough – especially after you turn the slices over.

Its important you don’t “hurry up” – let one side get done completely before you turn the slices. Its not a good idea to keep repeatedly turning the slices on the tava – they end up absorbing a lot of oil, rather unnecessarily.

Serve hot. Goes really well with Daal-rice, Solkadhi-rice or even Chappatis/ Rotis.  Kachrya can be rustled up at the last minute for a meal – and always end up adding that “little extra” to make a meal interesting 🙂

Solkadhi – The Original Recipe

A friend of mine asked me a pertinent question – when this project and the blog is titled ‘Solkadhi’ how come I haven’t posted its recipe? Point! So here goes…

Solkadhi is a preparation that is quite popular – and made even more so by the many restaurants who specialise in Coastal cuisine from western India. Naturally, many versions of Solkadhi are available in the market. However, as is the case with most dishes across cuisines, the authentic recipes made at home are indeed quite different from the versions available in restaurants. And the purists tend to turn up their noses at the ‘commercial varieties’ 😉

Recipes for Solkadhi also tend to subtly vary across families. I have recorded two recipes  made in my family – plus a ‘shortcut’ one. And then there is a ‘cousin’ of the Solkadhi, called ‘Tiwal’ – which is made without coconut. Am going to note that down too – in a separate post.

About Solkadhi

Solkadhi is made from Kokum or Aamsol – a fruit that is grown in the region. I am not going to digress into details about kokum itself. Instead, here are a couple of interesting posts I came across on the topic – you may want to check them out: ‘Kokum – the kool king‘ and ‘The mystique of kokum

Solkadhi is like a ‘staple’ dish that used to be on the daily menu of most homes in our part of the world. It is like what Curd or Rasam or buttermilk is to many of my friends from other parts of the country. In fact, in our home, over the last few years, my parents have reverted to having Solkadhi with every meal. I was asking my dad what is the ‘big deal’ about Solkadhi. Being the healthcare expert that he is, he explained that it contains ‘fungal diastase‘ – which helps with 1st stage digestion of carbohydrates in the body. It helps reduce the ‘bulk’ in the stomach – which is why it is considered a ‘must’ with heavy food rich in carbs. Given that Konkan is basically a rice & fish eating region, it explains why this must have evolved. Besides, kokum itself is supposed to be an excellent antidote for acidity.

Recipe #1:

Ingredients

  • Fresh Coconut – grated, 1 cup
  • Aamsol or Kokum – 7 to 9
  • Green Chillies – 2, medium length, cut into 2-3 pieces
  • Ginger – 1/2 inch, peeled and diced into 4-5 pieces
  • Asafoetida (Heeng) – qtr tsp
  • Salt to taste

Procedure:

Soak the kokum in about 3/4th cup water adding the Heeng and Salt. Keep aside for a couple of hours.

Now comes the critical grinding-of-the-coconut part. This used to be done on a stone grinder (called ‘Pata Varvanta’ in Marathi) in the pre-mixer days – I recollect helping my mom do this occasionally in my childhood. While most folks have switched to mixer-grinders, those who have eaten food containing spices & masalas ground on stone grinders insist that the same flavours don’t emerge when using a mixer. The fundamental difference is that in a mixer, the ingredients get “finely chopped” – while on a stone grinder, they get ground and pressed together while getting broken down.

Anyways, so in our ‘modern day’ methodology, this is how you proceed : grind the coconut, ginger and green chillies with 3/4th cup water in the mixer. When it grinds to a decent paste, squeeze the ‘milk’ out of the paste and keep aside. Add another 3/4th cup of water to the dry remains and run the mixer again for a minute or so. Again extract the milk – adding to the original extract. Repeat a couple of more times – till basically all the ‘milk’ gets extracted from the coconut and you start extracting only clear water.

Add the extracted ‘milk’ to the pre-soaked kokum above and blend. Keep aside for a couple of hours – it is important to let the Solkadhi ‘be’ for at least a couple of hours before you consume it. And remember to stir the Kadhi everytime you serve it – the coconut extract tends to rise to the top when the kadhi is left untouched for a bit!

And BTW, the kokum is supposed to be thrown away after consuming the kadhi – don’t eat them by mistake 🙂 (It happened with someone I know – so I just thought I should mention it!)

Solkadhi is eaten traditionally with rice – “kadhi-bhaat’ is usually the last course in a meal. While it certainly goes well with fish and meat dishes, it is also lovely to have with your ordinary bhaaji or sabji.

A few important points:

– Although Solkadhi is commonly ‘positioned’ as a drink (and hence is served a tad sweetened), original solkadhi is meant to be eaten with rice.

– A lot of commercial establishments use something called ‘Kokum Aagal’ – a Kokum juice extract that is available in the market- instead of soaked kokum to make kadhi. When in a pinch, you could probably use the “aagal” I guess. The only issue is that most commercial products are sold with sugar added to the Kokum Aagal (so that it can double up as a base for Kokum juice) – and that tends to completely spoil the taste of the Solkadhi.

Recipe #2:

The difference is only in the ingredients used to spice the Kadhi. So the combination of ingredients in this version of the kadhi are:

  • Fresh Coconut – grated, 1 cup
  • Aamsol or Kokum – 7 to 9
  • Garlic – 5-6 big pods, peeled. These should be ‘crushed’ (use a pestle or a stone) before use. In fact, always crush garlic before using in any recipe as the crushing helps release the beneficiary oils that garlic is known for
  • Black Peppercorns – 7 to 8
  • Asafoetida (Heeng) – qtr tsp
  • Salt to taste

The procedure is exactly the same as given in Recipe #1. Instead of grinding the coconut with chillies and ginger, grind it with the garlic and black peppercorns.

BTW, this garlic-black pepper version of the solkadhi is particularly given to people recuperating from an illness or to young mothers. It also goes very well with a non-veg meal.

Recipe #3 – the Shortcut method:

Since one is perpetually short of time these days, here is a short-cut version of the Solkadhi. Again, purists frown on this version…but when one doesn’t have the luxury of time or household help, atleast one can still enjoy Solkadhi.

The short cut version basically uses coconut milk instead of grated coconut.

Ingredients:

  • Aamsol or Kokum – 7 to 9
  • Green Chillies – 2, medium length, cut into 2-3 pieces
  • Ginger – 1/2 inch, peeled and diced into 4-5 pieces
  • Asafoetida (Heeng) – qtr tsp
  • Coconut Milk – 1/2 cup
  • Salt to taste

Soak the kokum in 3/4th cup water with Heeng & Salt plus the Chillies and Ginger for a couple of hours. You can even use ginger & chilly paste. Add the coconut milk after the kokum is soaked. Keep aside for at least an hour or so before consuming.

Enjoy! 🙂

Aambat Batata – a Potato Dish

Continuing on the theme of Devakarya menu from my last post (Ginger Chutney), here is another dish with is also a staple on the menu – Aambat Batata.  ‘Aambat’ means ‘sour’ in Marathi – although, like in most Indian cuisines and, therefore, in Indian languages, there are different types of ‘sour’ tastes – so the actual taste kinda gets lost in translation here. The ‘sourness’ of Aambat Batata is very light…so I guess a closer approximation would be to describe it as ‘tangy’ perhaps? Best is for you to try it out and decide for yourself.

Aambat Batata is a favorite with my sister-in-law. And since she lives outside the country and doesn’t have the time – like most of us – Aai has designed a ‘short-cut’ recipe for her. So am going to give you the original recipe here followed by the ‘short-cut’ one.

ORIGINAL RECIPE:

Ingredients:

  • Potatoes – 3 to 4, medium sized. Cut them into long slices – approximately the length of the potato, about 1/2 inch in breadth and 3/4th cms thick. Tip: If you are dicing the potatoes a couple of hours or more prior to the actual cooking, remember to soak the potatoes in water. It prevents them from darkening.
  • Tamarind – the size of one small lemon. Soak for an hour or so and extract & use the pulpy juice.
  • Coconut – grated, 1 cup
  • Black Pepper Corns – 8 to 10
  • Rice – 1/2 tsp (or 1 tsp of rice flour)
  • Red Chilli Powder – 1 tsp
  • jaggery – 1/2 tsp
  • Salt to taste

For the Tadka or ‘Phodni’ (as we call it in Marathi):

  • Mustard Seeds (‘Mohri’ or ‘Rai’) – 1/2 tsp
  • Asafoetida (‘Heeng’) – 1/2 tsp
  • Fenugreek (‘Methi’) granules – 1/2 tsp
  • Turmeric (‘haldi’) – 1/2 tsp
  • Oil – 2 to 2.5 tsps

Procedure:

First make the ‘Goli‘ or ‘Vaatap‘ – which is basically the coconut-based paste that is the basis of most gravies in this region. ‘Vaatap‘ means ‘that which has been ground

Mix the coconut, black peppercorns, and rice (or rice flour) and grind to a fine paste, adding water only as required. The resultant paste should be thick, not watery! Keep aside. You can also make this ‘vaatap’ on an earlier day(s) and store it in the freezer. Only thing is remember to thaw it properly before you make the actual dish.

Heat the oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds, allow them to splutter, then add the Methi, Heeng and Haldi. Add the diced potatoes, salt and red chilli powder. Then add enough water to ensure that the potatoes are completely submerged in the water. Steam on a low-to-medium flame till the potatoes are cooked. Remember to cover the pan with a flat lid and pour some water on the lid while steaming. Some varieties of potatoes take a long time to cook – so keep checking and adding   water as required if the potatoes are taking longer to get done.

When the potatoes are near-done, add the tamarind paste and boil for about 5 mins – till the ‘raw’ smell of the tamarind goes away. I asked my mom a silly question at this point – why cant we wait till the potatoes are fully cooked before we add the tamarind paste. She said because the whole thing needs to be boiled for 5 mins after the tamarind paste is added – and if the potatoes have been fully cooked, then they tend to break and dissolve when this boiling is going on. Duh!

Once this is done, add the ‘Vaatap’ – the coconut-based paste – and the jaggery and bring to a light boil over a low flame. As with all coconut-based gravies, make sure you don’t bring this to an ‘active’ or ‘big’ boil.

And your Aambat Batata is ready…

THE SHORT-CUT RECIPE:

The short-cut method basically does away with the ‘Vaatap”

Ingredients:

  • Potatoes- same as the ingredients above
  • Tamarind option – you can use readymade tamarind paste instead of tamarind. Mix 1/2 tsp of tamarind paste in 1/4th cup water and blend well.
  • Coconut Milk – thick, available readymade – 1/2 cup. This is instead of the grated coconut.
  • Pepper Powder – 1/2 tsp. This is instead of the whole pepper corns
  • Rice Flour – 1/2 Tsp
  • Red Chilli Powder – 1 Tsp
  • Jaggery – 1/2 tsp
  • Salt to taste

For the Tadka or Phodni – same as given above in the original recipe

Procedure:

Follow the same procedure as given in the original recipe till the stage where you need to add the tamarind paste. Here, use the readymade tamarind paste option as given in the ingredients above.

Next, instead of the ‘Vaatap’, we are going to use the coconut milk. First blend the rice flour into the coconut milk making sure no lumps remain. Add this to the potato mix in the pan, then add the pepper powder and jaggery. Bring to a low boil over a low flame.

Aambat Batata goes well with rotis, rice and even puris.