Saturday, 10 February 2007
Have you ever noticed that when you learn about something new, it suddenly starts appearing everywhere? I just looked at my bookmark for Shoba Narayan’s wonderful memoir/cookbook, Monsoon Diary that we finished reading not long ago. Noted on the bookmark was “Ginger Tamarind Pickle” listed along with ghee, panagam, okra curry and poha. (I took the book back to the library and foolishly didn’t copy out the recipe for the chutney!!)
The reason that we have suddenly become all fired up about puliyinji is because of the references to it in Rosie’s (What’s the Recipe Today, Jim?) JFI:ginger roundup. Included in the roundup were two very promising looking recipes for puli inji. I was really intrigued and insisted on buying some curry leaves so we could try it out.
We had forgotten how wonderful curry leaves are! As soon as we brought them into the kitchen, their wonderful aroma filled the air. (click on image for larger view)
And so we made a small jar of puliyinji. And tasted it. And tasted some more. And some more. Until it was all gone.
Yes, it is that good. I don’t know what RP (My Workshop) means by saying that a little goes a long way…. As far as we’re concerned, a little goes a little way and leads to a little more. And, well, maybe just a little more. And, why yes, please, I think I might like a little more. And, oh is there only a little left? No sense in keeping it, is there? Shall we share it? I’d love to have just a little bit more….
Fortunately, we still had plenty of curry leaves left. Initially, we had planned to dry what we hadn’t used. But how much better to use them fresh! And so T made a BIG jar of puliyinji. Here is what he did:
Puliyinji (Ginger Tamarind Chutney)
- ½ c tamarind (plus water for soaking)
- safflower oil
- 1 Tbsp dried chili flakes
- 2 tsp brown mustard seeds
- ½ c (loosely packed) fresh curry leaves
- 1/4 c ginger, chopped finely
- 5 – 7 green chillies, chopped
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds, ground
- ½ c jaggery (or demerara sugar)
- seasalt, to taste
- In a small bowl, pour just-boiled water over tamarind – enough to cover. Set aside to cool.
- When the tamarind water is cool enough, use your fingers to mash up the tamarind and find any seeds. Remove and discard the seeds. Set mashed tamarind aside.
- Heat oil in a cast-iron pan over med heat. Add chillie flakes and mustard seeds. Allow to cook until the mustard seeds begin to pop.
- Add curry leaves and stirfry for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add ginger and green chillies; stirfry until the ginger is golden.
- Stir in powdered fenugreek and cook for half a minute or so.
- Stir in tamarind mixture, jaggery and salt. Stir until jaggery is melted and then allow to simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring some more from time to time.
- Pour into a clean glass jar. Allow to cool then cover and refrigerate. (Apparently this keeps in the refrigerator for up to a month. Good luck keeping it for a month. It’s so good that you won’t have any left after a couple of days.)
Serve puliyinji with naan, rice, curry, lentils… you name it. Puliyinji is better one day after being made.
You can bet we’ll be adding puliyinji to the condiments we serve with tourtiere.
Curry leaf Murraya koenigii (not to be confused with the really dull tasting and rather unpleasant smelling curry plant Helichrysum italicumis…) is used throughout Southeast Asia and is an essential ingredient in South Indian cooking. I love its earthy flavour and pungent but pleasant aroma. There really is nothing like it.
For those who might want to grow curry leaf, they should make sure they ask for Murraya koenigii. (Some herb stores will glibly tell unsuspecting customers that they have Curry leaf when all they have is the disappointing Helichrysum italicumis.) Curry trees are not the easiest plant to grow in colder climates though. They are slow growers and like sun and warmth. Of course, they have to be overwintered indoors if the night temperatures even vaguely approach freezing. A University of Oklahoma site says that the night temperatures shouldn’t go below 18C/65F. It is not the easiest plant to find these days – apparently there are restrictions in USA on the imported seeds. Richters Herbs in Canada used to sell small plants but they no longer have them in their catalogue. (Increasingly closed borders… sheesh… ) For about two years, I had a plant that I got from Richters when they still sold them, but the leaves were very very small and alas, under the care (ha!) of my black thumb, the tiny tree died.
Luckily, we can get bunches of fresh curry leaves from our Indian grocery stores. The leaves in the photograph cost $1.00 Cdn. Apparently one might be able to root a branch but I have never had luck with that. But now that we’ve rediscovered the wonderful flavour of curry leaf, I’ll try again in the spring.
Read more about curry leaf:
- Wikipedia – curry tree
- Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages – curry leaves
- Plant Cultures – growing curry leaf
Weekend Herb Blogging is hosted by Kalyn’s Kitchen this week. If you’d like to participate, read more here: