Kadak Masala Poori| Farsi Poori

Farsi Poori is an integral part of the Diwali celebrations in several Gujarati households. The coterie of Diwali farsaan or savoury dishes is incomplete without these little, crisp pooris. They can be made days in advance, and stay crisp for days on end. They are perfect to fill into jars and bring out when guests are visiting, just right with a cup of chai. They go beautifully with pickle or jam too, if you so prefer!

I know I say this every year, but this year it is especially true – I just can’t fathom how the months have flown by! It feels like 2022 just began. How is it almost time for Diwali already?! Anyhow, I wanted to share with you all recipes for a few sweets and savouries you could make this Diwali, and would like to begin with this one for Farsi Poori. Amma learnt how to make these from a Gujarati neighbour years ago, and they have been a permanent fixture at our place since, festival or not. Did I tell you they are lovely things to send in lunch boxes?

Farsi Poori or Kadak Masala Poori

Some other Diwali special recipes

You might want to check out the recipe for Omapodi on my blog, as well as this Aval Mixture and Chana Dal Namkeen. If you are thinking sweet treats, do take a look at my recipes for Mawa Gulab Jamun, Lauki Ka Halwa, Badam Kheer, and Sitaphal Basundi.

My fellow food blogger Priya Vijayakrishnan has shared a recipe for Namkeen Moong Dal, which I would love to try out this Diwali.

Then, there’s the Diwali Marundhu, the digestive that our wise ancestors would make, using a variety of spices and other ingredients, much needed after all the festival binge-eating.

Farsi Poori – ingredients needed

Like I was saying earlier, Farsi Poori refer to small, crunchy pooris that are typically made using maida and deep-fried. The word ‘farsi‘ means ‘crispy’ in Gujarati, and these pooris are definitely that. These pooris are a dry snack quite popular in Gujarat, especially during festivals like Diwali.

Here, I have deep-fried them as is traditionally done, but have substituted the maida for wheat flour. I think they still manage to be just as crunchy and delicious as the regular maida version.

Farsi Pooris sometimes have spices like carom seeds, pepper, cumin, and coriander powder added in. Sometimes, finely chopped fenugreek (methi) is also added to make them all the more flavourful. I have kept it really simple and added just a couple of basic spices – just some red chilli powder, asafoetida and carom (ajwain).

These are also sometimes referred to as ‘kadak pooris‘ or ‘kadak masala pooris‘. They are lovely as a tea-time snack, as I mentioned earlier. They are just as nice on their own, or dipped into pickle or jam, if you like that.

Vegan but not gluten-free

This recipe for Farsi Poori is completely vegetarian and vegan, suited to those following a plant-based diet.

However, due to the use of wheat flour and asafoetida (which most often contains wheat flour, in India), it is not gluten-free.

How to make Farsi Poori or Kadak Masala Poori

Here is how we go about it.

Ingredients (makes 25-30 small pooris):

1. 1 cup wheat flour plus some more for dusting

2. 2 tablespoons fine semolina (rava)

3. Salt to taste

4. 1/2 teaspoon carom (ajwain) seeds

5. 1/8 teaspoon asafoetida (hing) powder

6. 1 teaspoon red chilli powder or to taste

7. Oil for deep-frying + 2 tablespoons

Method:

Top left: Step 1, Top right and below: Step 2, Bottom right: Step 3, Bottom left: Step 4

1. Take the wheat flour in a large mixing bowl. Add in the semolina, salt, carom seeds, asafoetida and red chilli powder. Mix everything well using your hands.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a small tadka pan. Add this to the flour in the mixing bowl.

3. Mix the flour and the oil well together, with your hands.

4. Now, adding water little by little, bind the flour into a dough. The dough should be non-sticky, yet soft and pliable. Knead for 2 minutes.

5. Let the dough rest, covered, for 10-15 minutes.

Top left: Step 6, Top right and below: Step 7, Bottom right: Step 8, Bottom left: Step 9

6. After the dough has rested, divide it into 25-30 small balls.

7. Roll out the balls into thin circles, using a rolling pin, on a flour-dusted work surface. Usually these pooris are small, with a diameter of 2-1/2 to 3 inches. Prick these circles with a fork on both sides, to prevent them from puffing up while frying.

8. Heat oil for deep-frying in a heavy-bottomed pan. Meanwhile, keep the dough circles covered.

9. When the oil is nice and hot, reduce the flame to medium. Drop one of the dough circles into the hot oil. Fry till it browns gently on both sides, flipping over a few times. Drain out the oil and transfer the fried dough to a plate. Now, fry the other prepared discs of dough in the same way. Your Farsi Pooris are ready. Let them cool down completely, then transfer to a jar. Store at room temperature for 7-10 days.

Tips & Tricks

1. In many Gujarati households, these Farsi Poori are made using maida. I prefer using wheat flour instead. You could also use a mix of maida and wheat flour.

2. Do not forget to prick the dough circles before deep-frying them. This will stop them from puffing up while frying and render them crispy.

3. The dough should be soft and pliable but not sticky to the touch. It should be slightly more firm than regular roti dough.

4. Roll out the dough into discs that are thin, for best results. These pooris are usually small, but you can make them in any size you want.

5. Remember to keep the prepared dough circles covered while you are frying. This will prevent them from drying up and getting too hard.

6. You can add other spices like coriander powder, coarsely crushed cumin and black pepper and/or sesame seeds to the dough. I have added only asafoetida and carom seeds, here.

7. To test whether the oil for deep-frying has heated up enough, drop a small blob of the dough into it. The dough should rise up. If the dough does not rise up immediately, the oil needs to be heated up some more.

8. Fry the pooris on a medium flame only. This will ensure that they are evenly fried and turn out nice and crispy. Do ensure that they do not burn or that you do not over-fry them.

9. Use only fine semolina aka ‘Bombay rava‘. The thicker variety of rava does not lend itself well to this recipe. Since the wheat flour available at most places is super fine these days, the addition of rava gives the pooris a bit of texture. Alternatively, you could use wheat flour that is slightly coarsely ground, if that is accessible to you.

10. Adjust the quantity of salt and red chilli powder as per personal taste preferences.

11. You may air-fry or bake these Farsi Poori, but I prefer to deep-fry them the way they are traditionally made. We only occasionally indulge in them, anyways.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Pineapple Madhura Curry| Sweet Pineapple Curry

Pineapple Madhura Curry is an integral part of the Onam sadya in several households. It is a sweet curry made with ripe pineapple, a beautiful dish from the state of Kerala. It’s a flavour bomb, this curry, with sweet and sour and spicy tastes all rolled into one.

In today’s blog post, let me share with you all my family’s way of making Pineapple Madhura Curry. Do try it out this Onam! This is an absolutely delicious way to use up a ripe pineapple, I say.

Pineapple Madhura Curry or Sweet Pineapple Curry

Are you looking for other Onam sadya recipes? Check out this Nei Payasam, Moru Curry, Cabbage Poriyal, Mambazha Pulissery, Puli Inji, Palada Pradhaman and Dates Puli Inji.

A closer look at Pineapple Madhura Curry

Pineapple cooked into a curry that is potent enough to wake your tastebuds up from slumber – that’s Pineapple Madhura Curry for you. 🙂 ‘Madhura‘ means ‘sweet’ in Malayalam,  which indicates that this curry is, majorly, sweet. However, there are so many other layers of flavours happening here you’d be surprised if you haven’t tried this out before.

There is a version of Pineapple Madhura Curry made with curd, which is prepared in many Malayali families. However, the version I am sharing today, from my mother-in-law’s side of the family, does not include any curd.

This curry is not as popular as Pineapple Pulissery, which almost always occupies pride of place in an Onam sadya. I love this one slightly more than I do pulissery, though. 🙂

When you are not making an elaborate banana-leaf spread, I think this Pineapple Madhura Curry goes very well with rice and sambar or rasam. Especially if you like curries that are on the sweeter side, like me!

What goes into Pineapple Madhura Curry

Chunks of ripe pineapple are first cooked with a wee bit of salt, then further with the addition of jaggery. The sweetness in this curry comes inherently from the ripe pineapple as well as from jaggery.

Coarsely crushed coconut, mustard, cumin and green chillies are added to this mixture, not unlike this Beetroot Poriyal. Then, after a brief saute, the curry is ready. It is served with a simple tempering of mustard seeds, dry red chillies, asafoetida and curry leaves.

How to make Pineapple Madhura Curry

This is how to go about it.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

To grind together:

1. 1/2 cup fresh coconut

2. 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

3. 1 green chilli

4. 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

Other ingredients:

1. 2 cups ripe pineapple cubes

2. Salt to taste

3. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

4. A little less than 1/4 cup jaggery powder, or to taste

For the tempering:

1. 1 tablespoon coconut oil

2. 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

3. 2 pinches of asafoetida

4. A sprig of fresh curry leaves

5. 2-3 dry red chillies

Method:

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Centre left and right: Step 3, Bottom left and right: Steps 4 and 5

1. Remove the core and thorns from all the pineapple cubes, then transfer them to a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the turmeric powder, a little salt and about 1/2 cup of water. Place the pan on high flame.

2. Mix the ingredients well. Let the pan get heated up and the water start bubbling, then reduce the flame down to medium. Allow the pineapple cubes to cook on medium flame till they are about 80% done, 5-6 minutes. Stir intermittently.

3. In the meantime, we will grind the paste this dish requires. Take the coconut, mustard seeds (listed under ingredients ‘to grind together’) and cumin seeds in a small mixer jar. Chop up the green chilli roughly and add it to the mixer jar too. Pulse a few times to get a coarse dry mixture – do not add any water. Keep this aside.

4. When the pineapple nearly 80% cooked and there is still a little water left over, add the jaggery powder to the pan. Mix well.

5. Continue to cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes more. By this time, the water would have almost dried up and the pineapple would have cooked through. Do remember not to overcook the pineapple, but let it retain its firmness.

Top left and right: Step 6, Bottom left and right: Step 7

6. At this stage, add the coconut mixture to the pan. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for 1-2 minutes or till everything is well incorporated together. Switch off gas at this stage.

7. Now, we will prepare the tempering. Heat the coconut oil in a small tempering pan. Add in the mustard seeds, and allow them to sputter. Add in the asafoetida, curry leaves and dry red chillies. Let these ingredients stay in for a few seconds, without burning. Then, transfer this tempering to the pineapple curry. Mix well. The Pineapple Madhura Curry Is now ready. Let it come to room temperature, then serve alongside rice with rasam or sambar or as part of an elaborate banana-leaf spread.

Tips & Tricks

1. Use a pineapple that is ripe and juicy, but not overly so. Preferably, the pineapple should be firm and without any blemishes.

2. Adjust the quantity of jaggery and salt as per personal taste preferences. The same goes for the quantity of green chillies that you use.

3. If the heat from the green chillies is not enough, you can add a little red chilli powder. However, this is purely up to you. We keep this curry mildly spicy by adding just one green chilli, and do not use any red chilli powder.

4. Do not grind the coconut mixture to a paste. Just pulse it a few times in the mixer to get a coarse, dry mixture – that’s the texture that works best.

5. If the curry gets too dry while cooking, you can add in a little water. I didn’t need to. The end result should be a mostly dry, very slightly wet curry.

6. You may add in a small knob of ginger along with the coconut, while grinding. We usually don’t.

7. Do not cook the curry too much after the coconut mixture has been added. Just saute for 1-2 minutes for everything to get well assimilated.

8. You can also add in some cashewnuts, to make the curry richer. If so, use broken cashewnuts and add them raw, along with the jaggery.

9. You can also add a handful of grapes to this curry. Use seedless grapes, green or purple, and add them in while you add the coconut mixture to the pan.

10. Do not overcook the pineapple. It should be just cooked through, retaining its firmness.

11. Coconut oil goes best in the tempering for this curry, as in case of several dishes from Kerala. The tempering is done at the end, to ensure that the fragrance of the coconut oil remains intact.

12. This recipe is completely vegetarian and vegan, suited to people who follow a plant-based diet. It is not, however, gluten-free because of the use of asafoetida. Most Indian brands of asafoetida contain wheat flour, to a greater or lesser extent, and are therefore best avoided whilst following a gluten-free diet. So, to make this Pineapple Madhura Curry gluten-free, simply skip the asafoetida used in the tempering.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me in your comments!

Pazham Payasam| Mixed Fruit Kheer

Pazham Payasam is a delightful twist to the regular kheer varieties we make. It is a more decadent version of kheer, with the unique flavour of mixed fruits. You can add whatever fruits are in season to this kheer – every time you make it, it tastes different!

I had been trying out Pazham Payasam for the blog for some time, and recently nailed the recipe after a few trials. It turned out perfectly the last time I made it, and was such a huge hit with the family! In fact, we offered this Pazham Payasam or Mixed Fruit Kheer to our kutti Krishna too, as prasadam, this Janmashtami. In today’s blog post, I am going to share with you all how I made it. Do try it out this recipe this festive season – I would love to hear how you liked it.

Pazham Payasam or Mixed Fruit Kheer

How to make Pazham Payasam

Pazham Payasam is not a very difficult thing to make, but it does need a bit of patience. As in the case of all payasams, milk is cooked till it reduces and thickens. It is sweetened with sugar, and a paste made of soaked and ground cashewnuts is added to make it thicker and richer.

The milk mixture is allowed to cool down completely (or chilled in the refrigerator, if you so prefer). It is served with chopped fruits of your choice mixed in.

I did not use too many ingredients in my Pazham Payasam, preferring to keep it simple. I flavoured it using a wee bit of cardamom powder, and used three basic fruits only. It tasted beautiful as is, but if you want to make it more exotic and rich, I have shared some notes in the ‘Tips & Tricks’ section.

Pazham Payasam or Mixed Fruit Kheer recipe

Here is how I made it.

Ingredients (serves 4 -5):

1. 1 litre full-cream milk

2. 1/4 cup sugar or as per taste

3. 12-15 cashewnuts

4. 2 pinches of cardamom powder

5. 1/2 of a medium-sized apple

6. 1 small banana

7. 1/2 of a medium-sized pomegranate

Method:

Top left: Step 1, Top centre and right: Step 2, Bottom left and centre: Step 3, Bottom right: Step 4

1. Soak the cashewnuts in some boiling hot water for about 2 hours. When they are done soaking, drain out all the water from them.

2. Take the soaked and drained cashewnuts in a small mixer jar. Add in about 1/4 cup milk. Grind together to a smooth paste.

3. Take the rest of the milk in a heavy-bottomed pan. Place on high flame. Allow the milk to get heated up and then come to a boil. Reduce the flame to low-medium at this stage.

4. Add in the sugar. Mix well. Allow the sugar to get completely dissolved in the milk. Keeping the flame at low-medium, cook for 4-5 minutes or till the milk has started to thicken. Stir intermittently. Scrape down the cream that forms on the sides of the pan, back into the milk.

Top left and right: Steps 5 and 6, Bottom right and left: Steps 7 and 8

5. Add the cashewnut paste to the pan at this stage, constantly stirring.

6. Let the mixture cook on low-medium flame for 4-5 minutes more or till it has thickened nicely. You will need to stir a little more frequently now. Continue to scrape down the cream forming on the sides of the pan back into the milk. Switch off gas when the mixture has thickened up well but not overly so. Remember that it will thicken up more as it cools.

7. Mix in the cardamom powder once the gas is switched off. Allow the mixture to cool down completely. If you want, you can chill the mixture in the refrigerator for a few hours (after it has fully cooled down).

8. Mix the fruits into the mixture just before serving. Peel the banana and chop into small cubes. Chop the apple into small cubes too. Separate the pomegranate arils. Add the readied fruit to the milk mixture. Your Chettinad Pazha Payasam or Mixed Fruit Kheer is ready to serve – serve it immediately.

Other Payasam recipes on the blog

I have shared several payasam varieties on the blog so far. You might be interested in checking out the recipes.

Tips & Tricks

1. Make sure you use a heavy-bottomed pan to make this kheer.

2. The kheer needs to be cooked mostly on a low-medium flame, to avoid burning and for a nicer flavour. Stir more frequently after the cashewnut paste is added in, as it tends to settle at the bottom of the pan.

3. Do stir constantly while adding in the cashewnut paste. Otherwise, the paste might not be evenly distributed into the milk.

4. For best results, use only full-fat milk to make the Pazham Payasam. I have used full-cream milk from Nandini here.

5. Adjust the amount of sugar you use, depending upon personal taste preferences.

6. I have used only cashewnut paste to thicken the payasam here, and it worked beautifully. You can even use a mix of cashewnuts and almonds. If you are using almonds, make sure you remove the skin after soaking, before grinding them.

7. You can use any fruit of your choice in the payasam. Seedless grapes, orange segments and mango make for wonderful additions. I prefer using crisp Fuji apples and Robusta bananas in the payasam. Glace cherries would also go very well in this dessert.

8. Make sure you add the fruit only after the milk mixture has cooled down completely.

9. This Pazham Payasam tastes best when chilled. Place it in the refrigerator to chill only after it has completely cooled down. Get it out of the fridge a little while before you serve it, and add in the fruits.

10. You may add a few strands of saffron to the milk while it is cooking. Here, I haven’t.

11. If the milk gets too thick, adjust the consistency using a little boiled and cooled milk. If you feel the payasam is lacking in sweetness at a later stage, add in some sugar dissolved completely in warm milk.

12. Do not let the payasam sit for too long after adding the fruits. The fruits should be added just before serving. In case you are using citrus fruits, it can cause the payasam to become bitter if left in for too long.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Paal Payasam| Rice Kheer Recipe

Paal Payasam is Tamil for Chawal Ki Kheer, a dessert made using milk and rice. ‘Paal’ means ‘milk’ in Tamil, while ‘payasam‘ means ‘kheer‘.

This dessert is served on auspicious occasions like weddings and poojas, as well as on festivals like Pongal and Janmashtami. The process of making Paal Payasam is slightly tedious, but the end result – creamy, rich and delicious – is so much worth all the effort!

Delectable Paal Payasam or Rice Kheer

Let me show you how we prepare Paal Payasam in our family, in today’s blog post. Do try out this Rice Kheer recipe this Janmashtami and share your feedback – I would love to hear how you and your family liked it!

Other Payasam recipes on the blog

I have quite a few other recipes for Payasam on the blog. You might also want to take a look at them.

The making of Paal Payasam

The traditional way of making Paal Payasam is by adding milk to rice, letting the rice cook in the milk in a heavy pan, reducing it till it is nice and thick and creamy. It is a slightly tedious process, as I was saying earlier, taking up over 30 minutes at the least. There are shortcuts to this, but there is a definite charm to Paal Payasam that is slow-cooked, in the long-winded old-fashioned way.

Some people soak the rice before adding it to the milk, for it to cook faster. We don’t do this – we wash and dry the rice first, then saute it in some ghee before cooking it with the milk. We also keep the grains of rice whole, while some pulse them into grits to make the payasam.

Some pressure-cook the rice before it goes into the milk, to be cooked further in a pan. I have also seen friends make Paal Payasam from beginning to end in a pressure cooker. I have stuck to the traditional way of making this, as passed on from my grandmother to my mother and from her to me, somehow hesitant to take shortcuts as far as this beautiful dessert is concerned.

We keep our Paal Payasam really simple, with minimal embellishments, as you will see in the recipe below.

Ingredients used in Paal Payasam

Paal Payasam is a five-ingredient recipe. It needs simply five basic ingredients – milk, sugar, ghee, rice, and cardamom powder for flavouring.

It is best to use full-fat milk, in order to get a lusciously creamy payasam. Regular granulated sugar is added in, to lend a lovely cream-white colour to the dessert.

You can use any variety of rice you prefer. In Kerala, this kheer is made using matta red rice. The fragrant Basmati or Gobindobhog rice also go very well in this recipe. We prefer using an everyday rice variety like Sona Masoori or Kollam.

There is very little ghee that goes into this payasam, only for sauteeing the rice. We keep our Paal Payasam really simple, with no dried fruit or nuts added to it. If you so prefer, you may fry some cashewnuts and raisins in a little ghee and add it to the payasam too.

We typically use only powdered green cardamom to flavour this kheer. Of course, you may add in a few strands of saffron and/or other flavouring agents if you so prefer.

How to make Paal Payasam, the traditional way

Here is how we make it.

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

1. 2 tablespoons of rice

2. 1/2 tablespoon ghee

3. 1 litre of full-cream milk

4. 1/4 cup sugar

5. 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder

Method:

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Bottom left and right: Steps 3 and 4

1. Wash the rice thoroughly. Drain out all the water from it.

2. Spread the washed and drained rice out on a clean kitchen cloth. Rub it gently with the cloth to remove as much of the moisture as is possible.

3. Now, heat the ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the washed and drained rice and reduce the flame down to medium.

4. Saute the rice for 1-2 minutes, or till they puff up slightly as shown in the picture above.

Top left: Step 5, Top centre and right: Step 6, Bottom left, centre and right: Steps 7, 8 and 9

5. At this stage, add the milk to the pan. Continue to keep the flame at medium. Mix well.

6. Let the milk come to a boil, then reduce the flame to low-medium. Allow the milk to cook on low-medium flame till the grains of rice are cooked and break easily as shown in the picture above. This might take 30-45 minutes. You will need to keep stirring intermittently to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan, and scraping the cream that forms on the sides of the pan back into the milk. Do keep checking the grains of rice intermittently too, so you know when they get cooked. By this time, the milk would have reduced to about half of its original volume and thickened quite a bit.

7. When the grains of rice have cooked and easily break between your fingers, add the sugar to the pan. Mix well. Continue to keep the flame at low-medium. Add a little more milk if the mixture has gotten too thick – you might have to adjust the sugar in this case too.

8. Let the sugar get completely dissolved in the milk. Simmer on low-medium flame for 2-3 minutes, then switch off the gas.

9. Mix in the cardamom powder. Your Paal Payasam is ready. Serve it hot, warm, at room temperature or chilled, as per personal preferences.

Tips & Tricks

1. I have used Nandini full-cream milk here.

2. Adjust the quantity of sugar as per personal taste preferences. The above quantities work perfectly for us.

3. Remember to add the sugar only after the rice has been cooked. The rice will not cook well if the sugar has been added beforehand.

4. I have used Sona Masoori rice here.

5. A few saffron strands can be added to the Paal Payasam too. We usually don’t.

6. You can fry a few cashewnuts and raisins in some ghee and add them to the Paal Payasam, once it is ready. We usually don’t do this.

7. For best results, the Paal Payasam should be cooked on low-medium flame only. Remember to stir intermittently to prevent sticking. You don’t have to keep standing near the gas constantly – just monitoring the milk mixture as it cooks and stirring it at intervals is good enough.

8. The Paal Payasam thickens up further upon cooling. If it becomes too thick, you can dilute it a little using a bit of boiled and cooled milk, before serving.

9. Use a heavy-bottomed pan to cook the Paal Payasam.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me in your comments!

Dates Puli Inji| Perichampazham Thokku

Dates Puli Inji is a beautiful condiment you can serve to your family and guests this Onam. It is a spin on the regular Puli Inji, which is a quintessential part of an Onam sadya. This version is made using soft dates instead of the jaggery that is usually used, imparting a unique flavour and aroma to it. Try it out, and I’m sure you will fall in love with it too, the way my family did.

Perichampazham Thokku or Instant Dates Pickle

I developed this recipe for a contest on Goya Journal (a wonderful, wonderful online magazine for food lovers – check it out if you haven’t already!) some time ago. The recipe didn’t make the cut, but we all surely loved the Dates Inji Puli! I have made it quite a few times since, and it has always been slurped up to the last bit. 🙂

What goes into this Dates Puli Inji

Like I was saying earlier, this recipe is a spin on the traditional recipe for Puli Inji. It has ginger, green chillies, tamarind and curry leaves – the same as the heritage recipe. However, I have ground the green chillies and ginger into a paste here, instead of keeping them finely chopped. Also, dates have been used here instead of the jaggery that is typically traditionally used. We all know the health benefits of dates, and this is a delicious way of adding them to one’s diet – I’m not sure whether it is a healthy way of doing it, but it sure tastes awesome!

This Dates Puli Inji (it wouldn’t be wrong to call it Perichampazham Thokku in Tamil) is a gorgeously aromatic and flavourful thing. It goes so well with tiffin items like dosa, pongal and upma, and even makes for a lovely spread for rotis and parathas. You can make it part of your Onam sadya, or have it with plain ol’ curd rice too.

Perichampazham Thokku/Dates Puli Inji recipe

Here is how to go about making it.

Ingredients (makes about 1-1/2 cup):

1. 1 heaped cup of soft dates

2. A large piece of fresh ginger, 1/3 cup when peeled and chopped

3. About 5 green chillies or to taste

4. A large lemon-sized ball of tamarind

5. 3 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons of sesame oil

6. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

7. 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida

8. 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

9. 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves

10. Salt to taste

11. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

12. Jaggery powder to adjust taste (optional)

13. Red chilli powder to adjust taste (optional)

Method:

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Below top right: Step 3, Bottom left and right: Steps 4 and 5

1. Soak the tamarind in boiling water for at least 15 minutes, for it to become soft.

2. Peel the ginger and chop roughly. Chop the green chillies roughly too. Remove seeds from the dates and separate each one into two. Keep these ingredients ready.

3. Grind the ginger and green chillies together, slightly coarsely. There’s no need to add any water while grinding. Keep ready.

4. When the tamarind has cooled down enough, extract all the juice from it. Use water as needed to help with the extraction process. Do not make the extract too watery; keep it thick. I had about 1-1/4 cups of tamarind extract. Remove seeds, fibres and impurities, if any. Keep ready.

5. Grind the dates coarsely without adding any water. Keep ready.

Top left, centre and right: Steps 6, 7 and 8, Below top right: Step 9, Bottom right, centre and left: Steps 10

6. Now, we will start preparing the pickle. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the mustard seeds and allow them to pop. Next, add in the asafoetida, fenugreek seeds and curry leaves. Allow them to stay in for a couple of seconds.

7. Add the ground ginger-green chilli to the pan. Reduce the flame down to medium. Cook for about 2 minutes on medium flame.

8. Add the ground dates to the pan. Cook on medium flame for 2 minutes, stirring intermittently.

9. Now, add the tamarind extract to the pan, along with salt to taste and the turmeric powder. Mix well.

10. Continue to cook on medium flame for about 10 minutes or till the mixture thickens. It will first start thickening then change colour to a darker brown and get glossy. Switch off gas when it reaches a jam-like consistency that isn’t too thick. The Perichampazham Thokku is ready. At this stage, drizzle 2 tablespoons of sesame oil over the thokku and mix well.

10. Let the thokku cool down completely, then transfer to a clean, air-tight, dry bottle. Refrigerate and use a clean, dry, spoon to remove.

Vegan, can be made gluten-free

The above recipe for Perichampazham Thokku is completely vegetarian and vegan, suited to those following a plant-based diet.

It is not vegan because of the use of asafoetida. Most commercially available Indian brands of asafoetida contain wheat flour, to some extent, and are therefore best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. However, if you can get your hands on 100% gluten-free asafoetida, you can definitely use it.

Tips & Tricks

1. Use a soft variety of dates, for best results. I have used Kimia dates here.

2. Adjust the quantity of green chillies, salt and ginger as per personal taste preferences.

3. If you feel the heat or sweetness in the thokku is less, you may add in some red chilli powder and/or jaggery powder. I didn’t need to.

4. Use a heavy-bottomed pan only for preparing this Perichampazham Thokku.

5. The thokku needs to be cooked to a jam-like consistency. Remember not to make it too thick.

6. Remember to keep the tamarind extract on the thicker side and not too watery.

7. Some people dry roast some mustard and fenugreek, grind together and add this to the thokku at the end, just before the gas is switched off. We usually add them in as part of the tempering.

8. Use tender, fresh ginger for best results.

9. Sesame oil goes best in the making of pickles like this one.

10. This Perichampazham Thokku stays well for 10-15 days when refrigerated. However, it is best used sooner rather than later.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me in your comments!