August 27, 2006

Pavakka Puliyinji/ Bittergourd Sweet and Sour Chutney

Everybody has their own version and name for Puliyinji. Known also as Pulinji or Inji Curry, it is essential to an onam sadya. The sweet and sour chutney made of tamarind and ginger is relished with any kind of rice.
After the farm visit, I had a bunch of bittergourds(Pavakka)that I had enthusiastically picked. Though I like biitergourd in almost every form, whether fried or made into a curry, the most unusual preparation I know is pavakka puliyinji. Puliyinji is familiar to most Indian bloggers, but have you tried it with bittergourd? It adds one more dimension to the puliyinji as its bitterness is tamed with the sweetness of the jaggery and the sourness of the tamarind.
The recipe below is an approximation only. This is one dish which should be customised to individual taste preferences by changing the quantity of chili powder, jaggery and tamarind. This recipe has its origins in my friend Mini's house.

You will need:
Tamarind -1lemon size ball
Jaggery -1/4 cup concentrated
Ginger- 1 inch long piece
Green chilies-4
Red chili powder-1/4 tsp
Turmeric- 1/8 tsp
Curry leaves- 1 sprigs
Mustard seeds- 1/4 tsp
Red chili whole-2 Fenugreek seeds-1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Canola Oil- 2 tbsp
1. Soak the tamarind ball in ½ cup water and warm it in the microwave for a minute. Blend the tamarind and extract the liquid without seeds and keep aside.
2. Dissolve 4-5 jaggery pieces in ½ cup hot water and strain the liquid. The liquid should not be too watery. How much jaggery depends on how sweet the available one is. Wash, cut and remove the seeds from the bitter gourd. Dice into very small pieces. Chop the ginger and green chilies into small pieces. Tear the dried red chili into pieces.
3. Heat the oil in a wok or cast iron pan. When it is slightly hot, add the mustard seeds and cover. When the seeds stop spluttering, add the red chili pieces and curry leaves. Then add the chopped bitter gourd, ginger and green chilies. Sauté for 4-5 minutes and add the red chili powder, turmeric, salt, tamarind extract and let it cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the jaggery and let it simmer fro another 10 minutes or till the whole mixture thickens. Turn off the flame. The chutney should be thick.
Add more of chili powder or tamarind if needed.
4. Meanwhile, in a cast iron skillet, dry roast the fenugreek seeds, stirring all the while, till the aroma comes out. Transfer to a grinder and dry grind finely.
5. Add the fenugreek powder to the puliyinji and mix thoroughly. This stays in the fridge for at least 2 weeks.
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Unknown said...

I love this recipe Shaheen...a different way of using bitter gourd and a great balance of tastes. WIll definitely try this and let u know. Loved your farm visit pics and the gorgeous black rice kheer too...

Shah cooks said...

thanks nandita, let me know if u like it.