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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