Tuesday, February 27, 2007
This week: Pickles -- Ginger-Date-Green Chilli-Thokku
Here's is an unusual take on a traditional favorite -- "puli inji" or ginger in tamarind sauce. The recipe below, "Ginger, date, green chilli thokku" -- is a spicy, tangy, delicately sweet pickle that is an all-season winner, and is a thicker version of the puli-inji. In this updated version, the ingredients are minced to coarsely ground together prior to cooking. The intense spiciness comes from using the tiny, skinny, fresh, green or red chillies, the tang is from the tamarind, the sweetness is from juicy, plump, medjool dates. Other kinds of dates would do well, but you may have to use more depending on the size. If you don't like the idea of using dates, use a bit of jaggery (gur or vellam) for the sweetness.
The delightful flavor is from our favorite rhizome, ginger. Ginger is known to possess digestive properties and curative properties for the common cold and sore throat. I remember my mother preparing "Inji Sorasam" -- a perceived cure-all for all possible illnesses :). We would disappear from my mother's reach whenever we inhaled a mixture of fresh ginger root, coriander seeds, cummin seeds, lemon juice and jaggery or honey getting ground up together. I have developed a taste for this as I've grown older. It is a delicious medicinal paste. Try it sometime when you have a tummy-upset or a lack of appetite. Remember, not more than a spoonful or two, because too much ginger can cause heart-burns.
For this recipe, the ginger needs to be tender and not stringy.
Ginger-Date-Green Chilli Thokku
1.5 C peeled, minced or grated fresh ginger root
1/2 C fresh (raw) red or green chillies, stems removed
8-10 medjool dates, seeded
3" diameter ball of Fresh Tamarind (tight ball)
1/4 C salt or more as needed
2/3 C Virgin Sesame oil
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp asafoetida powder (hing/ perungayam),
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 sprig curry leaves (optional)
1. Soak fresh tamarind in 2 cups of hot water for 15 minutes or so. Extract the pulp thoroughly and discard the pith, seeds, membranes. Filter liquid pulp and keep ready.
2. Coarsely grind green chillies with some salt.
3. Grind seeded dates coarsely.
4. Heat about 2/3 of the oil in a saucepan
5. Add mustard seeds, asafoetida, and turmeric powder
6. When the mustard seeds splutter, add the curry leaves, and almost immediately, the ginger paste, chilli paste, and the date paste.
7. Add the salt, and saute on medium heat.
8. Stir from time to time for 10 minutes.
9. Add tamarind pulp and bring to a boil.
10. Cook until the mixture reduces to about half the original amount, or until the oil separates and oozes along the edge of the pickle.
11. Add the remaining oil, stir for two minutes, and remove from stove.
12. Keep it open until cool.
13. Store in a clean, dry jar/bottle/container.
14. Refrigerate when not in use. Always use a dry spoon.
To serve: Serve with curd rice, idli, dosai, roti, upma, etc.; may also be used as a sandwich spread; may be mixed with yogurt to make raita, or with plain cooked rice and ghee for a quick rice dish.