I’m forever hunting for new ways to make beaten rice aka poha. It’s so easy to prepare and such a versatile ingredient after all, one that can be cooked in n number of ways. In fact, I’m pretty sure every part of India has at least one indigenous poha variety! Today, I’m going to share with you all the recipe for Gojju Avalakki, or poha cooked Karnataka-style. It is a huge favourite at our place and, if you have ever had the pleasure of tasting it, you won’t wonder why. 🙂
A bit about Gojju Avalakki
Like I was saying earlier, Gojju Avalakki refers to the way poha is prepared in the South Indian state of Karnataka. The dish is a mix of sweet and sour and hot, a beautiful coming together of flavours. It is an absolute delight to eat, albeit not very difficult to put together.
Gojju Avalakki is called so because it uses ingredients like tamarind, coriander seeds, coconut, cumin and dry red chillies, which are typically used in making Karnataka-style gojju or relish. It is also called Huli Avalakki thanks to the tanginess the dish gets from the use of tamarind – ‘Huli‘ being ‘sour’ in Kannada and ‘avalakki‘ being ‘beaten rice’.
Gojju Avalakki is similar to the Puli Aval of Tamilnadu, but has several pronounced differences too. It is a heritage Karnataka recipe, one of the state’s traditional dishes, which you will commonly find being prepared in households but is slightly difficult to find on restaurant menus.
Our family recipe for Gojju Avalakki
There are several variations to the Gojju Avalakki recipe, with the dish being prepared in different ways in different parts of Karnataka. Further, different families add their own little flourishes to the Gojju Avalakki.
The recipe for Gojju Avalakki I’m about to share today is, I believe, for the way the dish is made in Bangalore. It comes from an aunt of mine, who’s an expert in Karnataka cuisine and my go-to person for any doubts of the culinary type. She, in turn, learnt the method from one of her friends in Bangalore.
Some families use rasam powder or sambar powder to hasten the process of making Gojju Avalakki, but this recipe uses a freshly ground spice mix. I rather prefer this, as the spice mix makes the dish all the more fragrant and flavourful.
Is this Gojju Avalakki vegan and gluten-free?
This recipe for Gojju Avalakki is completely vegetarian and vegan, suitable to those following a plant-based diet.
It can easily be made gluten-free too, by simply skipping the asafoetida used in the tempering. Most brands of asafoetida available in the market include asafoetida to some extent and are, hence, best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. However, if you find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, please do go ahead and use it.
This is a no-onion, no-garlic recipe as well.
How to make Gojju Avalakki
Here is how we go about making it. It is a rather simple and straightforward proceedure, and the tips and tricks mentioned at the end of this post will help you get it just right.
Ingredients (serves 2-3):
- 2 cups medium-thick beaten rice aka poha
- A small piece of tamarind
- 1 tablespoon peanuts
- 1/2 tablespoon oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 2 pinches of asafoetida
- 1 sprig of fresh curry leaves
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 3/4 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste
- 2 tablespoons fresh grated coconut
- 1-1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 3-4 dry red chillies
- 1/8 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 1/8 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/3 cup fresh grated coconut
1. Firstly, soak the tamarind in a little boiling water for about 10 minutes. Let it get soft.
2. Dry roast the peanuts on a medium flame till they get crisp. Take care to ensure that they do not burn. Keep aside.
3. Now, we will dry roast the ingredients needed for the spice mix. Add the coriander seeds, dry red chillies, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, sesame seeds and cumin seeds to the same pan we used earlier. Dry roast the ingredients on medium flame for about 2 minutes or till they turn fragrant. Ensure that they do not burn. Transfer the roasted ingredients to a plate and allow them to cool down fully.
4. Wash the poha well under running water. Place in a colander and let all the water drain away.
5. Let the poha sit for about 10 minutes, by which time it will become nice and soft. Then, fluff it up gently, using your hands.
6. Mix the salt and turmeric powder with the fluffed poha. Keep this ready.
7. When the tamarind has softened, extract all the juice from it. Keep the extract thick and don’t make it too watery. Keep ready.
8. When all the roasted ingredients have completely cooled down, transfer them to a mixer jar. Add in 1/3 cup of grated coconut. Grind everything together to a powder, stopping every 2-3 seconds to mix up the ingredients. Keep the spice mix ready.
9. Now, we are ready to start making the Gojju Avalakki. Heat the oil in the same pan we used earlier. Add in the mustard seeds, and allow them to pop. Add in the roasted peanuts, asafoetida and curry leaves, and allow them to stay in for a couple of seconds.
10. Reduce the flame to medium. Add the poha to the pan.
11. Add the jaggery powder to the pan. Give it a quick mix, and cook on medium flame for a minute.
12. Now add the tamarind extract and the spice mix we prepared earlier to the pan. Mix well. Taste and adjust salt if needed.
13. Cook for 4-5 minutes on medium flame or till everything is well integrated together. Switch off gas.
14. Mix in the 2 tablespoons of fresh grated coconut. Your Gojju Avalakki is ready to serve. Serve it hot.
Tips & Tricks
1. I have used moderately thick poha from the Bhagyalakshmi brand, here. It doesn’t need soaking – just washing it in cold water is enough. If you are using thicker poha, soaking might be required.
2. Adjust the quantity of tamarind, dry red chillies and jaggery as per personal taste preferences.
3. I prefer using a mix of the not-so-spicy Bydagi dry red chillies and the hot Salem Gundu dry red chillies to make the spice mix. The Bydagi chillies are what give the dish its beautiful, orange-ish colour.
4. I always dry roast the peanuts first, before using them in the dish, as they get crisper and nicer that way.
5. Ensure that none of the roasted ingredients (for the spice mix) get burnt. Grind the mix only when all the ingredients have completely cooled down.
6. Keep the tamarind extract thick and not too watery. A very watery extract will make the poha soggy.
7. Don’t overcook the poha after adding the tamarind extract and the spice mix. That might make the poha hard. Cooking for just about 4-5 minutes is enough.
8. Some fresh coriander can be used to garnish the Gojju Avalakki too, though it isn’t used traditionally. I usually don’t use it.
9. The spice mix can be prepared in bulk and used to make Gojju Avalakki as needed. I prefer preparing it fresh, on the spot.
10. The spice mix can also be prepared by grinding rasam powder (or sambar powder) with the 1/3 cup of fresh coconut. In that case, you don’t need to dry roast the ingredients as stated above. I sometimes take this shortcut too, but usually do the spice mix from scratch. Gojju Avalakki made using the short-cut tastes great too, but nothing like grinding it fresh as per the method above.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!