a buttery herbed pilaf

16th June 2018

Each year I plant broad beans because of their delightfully scented pure white, black and white flower. The seed always germinates, even in this unpredictable Sintra weather but when the beans arrive, I am sometimes at a loss at what to do with them.

This year, there was an abundance of both succulent beans and sweet peas. Just in time, I came across this rice dish which enabled me to make use of all the various green bits and pieces from the garden, that have emerged at this time of year.

The herbs soften the buttery rice and infuse it with flavour. The steaming method of cooking the rice forms a crusty bottom, creating crunchy shards of golden rice. It is a splendid outcome.

a  buttery herbed pilaf

Serves 3 – 4

Recipe adapted ‘Gather Cook Feast’ by Jessica Seaton.

Feel free to swap the vegetables around or even omit them out completely. I sometimes just prepare the crunchy buttery rice without any herbs or vegetables and serve it alongside a simple Indian spiced dal. 

ingredients:

1 cup/180g white basmati rice

½ cup/65g fresh young broad beans

½ cup/70g fresh sweet peas

½ cup/70 g finely chopped green beans

1 large bunch/20g each of fresh parsley, dill or fennel fronds

1 very large bunch/80g of fresh coriander

½ cup/125ml melted ghee – divided (or 75g butter-melted)

salt and pepper to taste

zest from half a lemon

juice from half lemon

preparation:

Wash the rice in cold water and drain. Repeat three more times to flush out all the excess starch (this helps the rice to be fluffy with nice separate grains when cooked). Then leave to soak in cold water for an hour while you prepare everything else.

Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil. In it blanch the broad beans, peas and chopped green beans for 3 – 4 minutes, then drain and refresh in ice-cold water immediately to cool them down (this keeps them green). When they are completely cold, drain the peas and beans, set aside.

Finely chop the leaves and tender stems of all the herbs, and mix together. Keep any tough stems for soups or stews. Set aside.

Drain the rice. Fill a medium saucepan (with a lid that fits) with very well salted water. Bring the water to a vigorous boil and cook the rice for exactly 5 minutes, starting the timer from the moment the rice enters the pot. Drain in a colander and let sit for 5 minutes or so to steam dry.

Return the empty pan to the stove, add half of the melted ghee. Split the pile of herbs in two – one to use now, setting the other half aside to use later. Add one-third of the rice to the pot, then half of the herbs for using now. Do not mix. Repeat with the next third of the rice and the other half of the herbs. Finish with the last third of rice. Drizzle the remaining melted ghee over the top.

Cover the pot with a tea towel, then place the lid firmly on top, folding the corners of the tea towel over the top so that they don’t catch fire. Cook over a medium heat for 8 minutes, then place the pot on the lowest heat you can manage and continue cooking for another 45 minutes.

When the rice is ready, mix the reserved herbs from the bowl and the peas and beans into the rice and pile it all on to a good wide platter or bowl. Sprinkle over the lemon zest and squeeze over the lemon juice. Taste and season with salt and a few rounds of pepper. Scrape up the crisp rice at the bottom of the pot and tuck it into the pile of rice shards – it’s delicious.

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okra & fresh fenugreek palya

5th May 2018

Growing fenugreek (methi) in the garden or in a pot on a balcony is one of the easiest things to grow. The seeds miraculously start to pop up in 3 -5 days and in four weeks the fenugreek is ready to harvest.

Fenugreek grows well in Spring to early Autumn, especially when the soil is warm. It can be grown in full sun or part shade. The fenugreek can be grown in the soil directly or in a pot. I stagger my planting both in a pot and in the soil every 2 – 3 weeks for a constant supply.

To plant, prepare the ground with some compost and well-rotted manure mixed into the soil. You can buy the seeds from the sprouting section in the health food store or as I do, buy from your local Indian store, the seeds grow very well. I sprinkle the seeds directly in the soil, however, you can sow in straight line trenches and cover with soil. The fenugreek seeds don’t need to be evenly spaced apart like other plants in order to grow. The seeds also don’t need to be buried deep in the soil, so a scattering of soil on top to cover the seeds are all it needs. Keep the soil moist and within in 3 – 5 days little buds will appear.

I start harvesting around 4 weeks when the plant is about 6 inches high. To harvest cut the plant with a pair of scissors a few centimetres at the stem above the soil. This will encourage new growth enabling you to get a new crop in 2 – 3 weeks.

To harvest your own seeds wait for the pods to turn yellow before harvesting your own seeds.

~Fenugreek or methi~

okra & fresh fenugreek palya

ingredients:

2 Tblsp peanut oil/coconut oil

½ tsp black mustard seeds

1 Tblsp channa dal

1 tsp urad dal

500 g okra/ladyfinger

3 tightly packed cups chopped fresh fenugreek

½ cup/45g dried shredded coconut

1 tsp jaggery/brown sugar

½ tsp fine rock salt

preparation:

Cut the tops off the okra and cut into uniformed 1 cm pieces. Set aside.

Wash the fenugreek leaves, pat dry and roughly chop. Set aside.

In a large wok or similar pan over high heat. Add the peanut oil and once it’s hot, add the mustard seeds and fry until they turn grey and start popping, add the channa and urad dal, keep frying, stirring constantly until they start to brown, a minute or so. Add the chopped okra and keep everything moving in the pan until all the okra starts to char around the edges, this could take five minutes. Turn off the heat and fold in the fresh fenugreek leaves, leaving the pan on the stove to continue to cook even though the fire is off. Once the fenugreek is wilted, stir in the coconut, add the salt and jaggery and mix well. This dish is best eaten immediately with chapati, rice and accompanied by a simple dal.

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bisi bele bath – revisited

13th April 2018

I thought I would revisit some of my favourite recipes which I make weekly and update to our personal preferences. This is one dish I love to eat in the cooler months (which in Sintra is the most part of the year).

Once I start eating a warm bowl of Bisi Bele Bath a feeling of being present warms and soothes the system, satisfying all six tastes.

~ waiting for Spring

bisi bele bath

Serves 3 

This dish nourishes the body and suits all constitutions. It is recommended to consume in the colder months. During warmer months, it will be heavier for the body. People with Vata disorder or digestion problems should not consume very often.

ingredients :

½ cup/90g toor dal (yellow lentils)

6 cups/1½ litres water

1 medium/80g carrot, chopped

1 medium/110g potato, peeled & chopped

1 cup/80g cabbage/green beans – roughly chopped

½ cup/100g white basmati rice

10 curry leaves

sambar-coconut paste:

¼ cup/25g dried unsweetened coconut

1 heaped Tblsp/18g mildly spiced sambar powder (use 1 tsp heaped if the powder is spicy)

1½ cup/375ml water – divided

.

1 heaped Tblsp/15g jaggery/ brown sugar

1 heaped tsp fine rock salt

1 tsp tamarind paste

1 heaped tsp ghee

¼ cup/30g frozen green peas

¼ cup chopped fresh coriander

for the voggarane :

1 tsp ghee

heaped tsp black mustard seeds

⅛ heaped tsp asafoetida powder

⅛ heaped tsp turmeric powder

preparation :

Wash and prepare vegetables.

In a medium saucepan, wash the toor dal several times until water runs clear – then drain. Pour 6 cups water into a saucepan and bring to boil over a high-heat, skim off any foam which accumulates on the top and simmer for 5 minutes, then add the chopped vegetables, reduce heat to maintain a rapid simmer. (Do not cover the pot, this allows certain impurities or energetic imbalances to be eliminated). Simmer rapidly until the dal is starting to soften – depending on the brand of dal, approximately 15 minutes.

Rinse the rice in a few changes of water and add to the dal and vegetables along with the curry leaves, rapidly simmer for 20 minutes more or until the rice is sufficiently cooked. You may have to add more water. Prepare the sambar-coconut paste.

sambar-coconut paste:

In an upright blender, place the dried coconut, sambar powder and pour in 1 cup of water. Blend on high for one minute.

Pour into the dal and rice, adding ½ cup water to the blender to rinse out any left-overs. Simmer for 5 minutes, adding more water if needed. Turn off the heat and add the jaggery/sugar, tamarind, salt, a spoon of ghee along with the green peas. Stir, cover and allow to sit undisturbed for 5 minutes. It will thicken as it sits.

prepare the voggarane:

In a small pan/bandalei over medium heat, add the ghee, once hot add mustard seeds; as the seeds start to splutter and pop (make sure the mustard seeds have popped well), add the asafoetida and turmeric powder, swishing the pan around allowing spices to fry evenly. Pour voggarane into dal, and stir in chopped coriander leaves.

Taste, adding more salt, sambar powder, sweetener or tamarind. To serve, spoon into bowls with a scoop of yoghurt and a drizzling of melted ghee.

Goodness shared by Stacey

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golden pistachio cardamom cookies

15th March 2018

Because these cookies contain very little flour, they are a bit crumbly to mould.  I used a heaped round Tablespoon measure of the mixture and then flatten them out with damp fingers.  If you find the mixture sticking, dip the spoon in water and then use damp fingers to push the edges in if they are breaking away.  If you prefer a cookie crunchy on the outside and softer texture on the inside – just scoop to keep the dome-shape and skip the flattening process.  You can easily replace the sultanas with gojji or cranberries berries.

 golden pistachio cardamom cookies

Makes approx 31 cookies – two trays.

Grind your own cardamom as the taste is so much more fragrant. An easy way to do this is to place 18 cardamom pods in a high-speed blender or coffee grinder, and roughly grind. Use a strainer to sift the ground pods, discard the shells and grind bigger chunks again to a finer powder.

Inspired by these cookies and this recipe.

ingredients:

⅓ cup/60g golden sultanas

½ cup/65g raw unsalted pistachio nuts

cup/120g whole-spelt flour

1 ½ cup/130g fine regular rolled oats

3 Tblsp/25g sesame seeds

¼ tsp fine rock salt

½ tsp aluminium-free baking powder

1 tsp cardamom powder

1 tsp ginger powder

cup + 1 Tblsp maple syrup

½ cup coconut oil/olive oil

zest of two oranges

preparation:

Preheat oven 180C/350F.

Line two baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the sultanas in a bowl, add boiling water to cover and soak for 10 minutes. Pour through a strainer, and set aside to drain well. (The extra moisture will help prevent them from burning and drying out when baking.)

Place the pistachio nuts on a tray and toast for approximately 8 minutes.  Allow to cool, roughly chop and place in a medium bowl, along with the spelt flour, oats, sesame seeds, salt, baking powder, cardamom and ginger powder.  Mix to combine and set aside.

Melt the coconut oil over a low heat until liquid, mix with the maple syrup; whisk until emulsified.  Pour into the dry ingredients and stir well, add the drained sultanas, orange zest and mix until well combined.

Use a slightly wet round Tablespoon measurement to scoop the cookie dough pressing against the side of the bowl to compact and place onto the baking sheet, flatten with damp fingers. If the mixture starts to stick, dip the spoon between intervals into the water. It is helpful to have a bowl of water nearby.

Bake for 16 – 18 minutes, rotating the baking tray halfway through. The cookies are ready to come out when they are deeply golden. Cool the cookies on a rack while you bake the rest of the dough. They will firm up when completely cool and are best eaten the day they are made.

Goodness shared by Stacey

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anne´s magical sesame-tahini-ginger dressing

18th February 2018

Our Christmas and New Year were spent up in the beautiful, snowy mountains of Boulder visiting our oldest and dearest friends. As soon as we arrived, a daily ritual was naturally established, of cooking and sharing meals together, morning and evening communed around a big table and warm fire. On these nights Anne would arrive with a basket of organic salad greens which she would chop up and serve drizzled with this magical tahini dressing. This dressing is special and adds a delicious splash of flavours to anything you put it on. Whenever I make it, it transports me back to those special evenings shared with like-minded friends.

 anne´s magical sesame- tahini- ginger dressing

Makes about 2 cups

I like to tear up some bitter tasting leaves from the garden, add a sliced pear and a handful of nuts and seeds and there’s a quick salad or steam some kale leaves, greens beans or broccoli. For a more substantial meal cook up a pot of brown rice, roast some seasonal vegetables and drizzle over this dressing. It is guaranteed to add a bit of magic to any dish.

ingredients:

3 Tblsp lightly toasted sesame seeds

¼ cup white miso

½ cup hulled tahini

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 Tblsp honey

½ a lemon zested

juice of ½ a lemon

1-inch grated ginger

2 Tblsp raw apple cider vinegar

½ tsp flaked dulse (optional)

¼ cup water

¼ – ½ cup olive oil

preparation:

In a small saucepan over medium heat lightly toast the sesame seeds until they start popping, keep toasting for another minute. Remove from heat and set aside for the seeds to cool.

In a medium jar, place the miso and tahini, stir well until pasty and incorporated, stir in the sesame oil and honey. Remove the zest from half a lemon and squeeze the lemon juice into the bowl, add the grated ginger, apple cider vinegar and if using, the dulse flakes. Stir well to combine adding the water until the dressing comes together. Add the cooled toasted sesame seeds.

Pour in the olive oil and whisk until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust the seasonings until you have a pleasing balance of fat and acid. The ideal consistency is that of pouring cream; stir in some water, or little more oil, until it runs easily off a spoon.

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tortellini with roasted pumpkin and sage butter

30th January 2018

Making tortellini does require a little patience and time, however, the final result is worth every fiddly moment and if you get everyone on board in the assembly line filling up the table, it speeds up the process and allows for a wonderfully intimate and fun afternoon together.

tortellini with roasted pumpkin and sage butter

4 servings

The fulsome sage butter is soft & simple allowing the pumpkin tortellini to shine through. The addition of the fried sage leaves adds a nice crunch which contrasts with the silkiness of the tortellini.

The inspiration for this post found here.

ingredients:

½ portion pasta dough

for the filling:

1 kg pumpkin

1 Tblsp melted ghee/butter

¼ tsp freshly shaved nutmeg

½ tsp fine rock salt

¼ tsp freshly ground pepper

for the sage butter and toasted leaves:

60g unsalted butter

40 sage leaves – divided

4 Tblsp peanut oil

for garnishing:

pine nut parmesan

few rounds of black pepper

a sprinkling of fine rock salt

preparation:

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

To make the filling, slice the unpeeled pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds with a spoon, then slice each half into 5-6 wedges and place in a large bowl. Drizzle over the melted ghee or butter and toss with your hands until the wedges are sufficiently coated. Arrange on a lined baking tray and roast for 30 – 40 minutes until soft. Allow to cool and scoop the pulp away from its skin with a spoon.  Place in a medium bowl and with a hand blender, puree until smooth. Allow to drain through a cloth for an hour. Place the pumpkin back into the bowl and sprinkle over the nutmeg, salt and pepper, stir to combine.

roll out the pasta dough:

Divide the pasta dough into thirds. Work with one piece at a time and keep the other pieces covered. Follow the detailed instructions here. Roll your dough as thin as possible ( I rolled it to #6 on my pasta roller).

shaping the tortellini:

Cut the sheet of pasta into rounds using a 3-inches cutter or tin. Gather the scraps into a ball and put them with the remaining pieces of dough to roll later. Place 1 teaspoon of filling in the middle of each round. (Don’t be tempted to overfill, otherwise, they will break and you will have a hard time sealing them.) Dip your finger in a bowl of water and run it along the edges of the circle. Fold the rounds into a crescent shape, pressing the top together carefully and pressing out any air trapped inside and then working your way along the sides. Bend the bottom two corners round to meet each other and press well to seal. Set aside, spacing them apart slightly, on well-floured board, covered. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough, re-rolling the scraps. (It is important to work on a well-floured surface, to avoid the tortellini sticking to it as you repeat with remaining pieces of dough.) Cover with a cloth, or if you are making them a few hours in advance lightly dusk them with semolina flour.

When ready to cook, bring a large pan of lightly salted water to the boil. While waiting for the water to boil, make the sage butter.

to make the sage butter:

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add 20 of the sage leaves and season with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and set aside.

toast the sage leaves:

In a small skillet or pan, heat a 4 Tablespoons of peanut oil over medium-high heat. Fry 6–8 sage leaves at a time until crisp, 2–3 seconds. Transfer with a fork to paper towels.

cooking the tortellini & serving:

Once the water is boiling, gently drop the tortellini into the water and cook 3½ – 4 minutes – they will rise to the top. Gently lift out with a slotted spoon onto individual plates. Drizzle with the sage butter, sprinkle over a few spoons of pine nut parmesan, a few rounds of pepper and decorate with the crispy sage leaves. The tortellini goes well with a plate of sauteed kale or nettles.

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pear & ginger cornmeal cake

14th January 2018

Just a few months ago we moved all the Jivana Yoga classes from our living room in the main house to the new ‘Sadvidya Space’ located at the very back of the property.  It is a beautiful, wild, and natural space overlooking the fruit orchard and the vegetable garden. To get there it is quite a journey, entering through a unassuming green door, stepping into and away from the hustle and bustle of old Sintra; you then weave your way past the main house, following the signs that lead along a cobbled stoned path through a lush green forest full of moss, all the while listening to the soft and sweet melody of the birds above.

Already something of yourself has softened and a natural quietness begins to present itself from within. You continue to pass an old chapel canopied under richly, scented eucalyptus trees which loom above, and there you find yourself at a door of the ‘Sadvidya Space’ where one can enter into the warmth and escape the attraction of the external world to travel inwards for a few hours.

I like to think of this journey from the ‘Green Door’ to the ‘Space’ as preparation for our inward practice, helping us to begin to let go along the way.  This is also where I like to test my new recipes and serve them after class to our lovely group on Saturday mornings. This pear and ginger cornmeal cake disappeared very quickly.  

´The Sadvidya Space´

pear & ginger cornmeal cake

8  servings

The ginger and pear are perfect together and the ginger is subtle enough that it lingers. A very easy dessert for morning or to prepare for a large group.  I like to bake this in a wider baking tray (6.5-inch x 10.5-inch) almost like a slice if using a smaller tray or skillet the cake may need more cooking time.

pear topping :

4 small/370g small firm pears

2 Tblsp butter/ghee/coconut oil (I used butter)

2 Tblsp brown sugar

dry ingredients :

1 cup/135g cornmeal

½ cup/75g whole wheat flour

½ cup/75g unbleached white flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp fine rock salt

1 heaped tsp ginger powder

wet ingredients :

¼ cup soy milk/almond milk

¼ cup olive oil

¾ cup maple syrup (maple syrup can be replaced with ½ cup sugar, increase almond milk to ¾ cup instead of ¼)

2 Tblsp finely chopped crystallized ginger (optional)

garnishing:

2 Tblsp brown sugar

½ cup roughly chopped macadamia nuts

preparation :

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.  Line a baking pan or a round 8- to 9- inch cast iron skillet.

for the pear topping: Halve the pears, remove the seeds, and slice each half into fours about ¼-inch thick. Set aside.  In a large skillet add the butter/oil and sugar, place the skillet over a medium heat and melt the mixture, stirring to combine.  Cook until the mixture begins to bubble, about 2 minutes. Add the pears, toss the pan to coat them with syrup, cover and allow to simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

for the cake: Whisk together the cornmeal, whole wheat flour, unbleached white flour, baking powder, salt and ginger powder in a mixing bowl.  Set aside.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine the nut milk, olive oil, maple syrup, and if using the finely chopped crystallized ginger.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients.  Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon; do not over mix. Pour into the baking dish or oiled skillet, you may need to spread the batter out with a spatula.

Toss the pears to coat them with the pan juices and individually lay the pear slices decoratively in even rows over the top of the batter, drizzle with the remaining pan juices. Sprinkle with a little brown sugar and the roughly chopped macadamia nuts.

Bake until golden for approximately 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Serve with a dollop of cream or Greek yoghurt.

Goodness shared by Stacey

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Andreia´s coconut cookies

16th December 2017

These delicious cookies have shreds of crunchy coconut on the outside and a soft, silky, cakey interior. They started from a cookie which Andreia from Soul Food Vegan baked for us when she was preparing lunches for the Jivana Week, I altered them slightly inspired by a coconut cookie recipe in Kim Boyce -`Good to the Grain´.

coconut cookies

Makes 28 – 30 cookies.

I tried these with different whole flours which made a heavier cookie, the all-purpose flour creates a light and silky interior which is preferable.

dry ingredients:

3 cups/220g coarse shredded dried unsweetened coconut – divided

1 cup/120g all-purpose flour

1 cup/135g coconut sugar

⅛ tsp fine rock salt

½ tsp baking powder

wet ingredients:

⅓ cup melted coconut oil

½ cup/125ml almond/rice milk/coconut milk

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

for the finish:

1 cup dried shredded unsweetened coconut

preparation:

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F. Line two baking sheets with baking paper. Set aside.

Grind half the dried coconut in a food processor or blender for 30 seconds until it resembles fine flour. Pour into a medium bowl and add the remaining 1½ cups of shredded coconut, flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Whisk to combine and set aside.

Over medium heat, melt the coconut oil and measure out a ⅓ cup. Add into a small jug or bowl along with the almond milk, vanilla essence and vinegar. Whisk to combine.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and combine well until all incorporated. Refrigerate the dough for 10 minutes before moulding for easier handling and a firmer more mounded dome shape.

Scoop balls of dough about a tablespoon in size (approx 20g) and form into a round ball by rolling in the palms of your hand, as you dip one side into the coconut, flatten slightly. Gently lift out of the coconut and place them on the prepared baking trays, coconut side up, leaving about 2 inches between them.

Bake for 16 – 20 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through until the coconut crust is golden and the bottom of the cookies are evenly brown. Place the second tray into the oven and bake the next round. Allow to cool completely. When freshly baked these cookies have a delicious outside crunch which softens up the longer they sit. Delicious eaten the same day, otherwise, place in an airtight container.

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pongal

7th December 2017

This is a dish I make after the Wednesday morning Yoga class when Lior is away as he usually prepares the Ayurveda meal for that day. It is much appreciated and is a wonderfully, soothing warm first meal. Pongal is favourable for all seasons, especially in the cooler months.  I serve it with tamarind gojju, steamed greens and seasonal fruits.

~A wintering garden

pongal

Serves 4 – 6

If wanting to make this a simple, cleansing first meal after a day of fasting omit the cashew nuts. Use only white rice as any other whole rice will change the overall flavour. 

ingredients :

1 cup/180g white basmati 

1 cup/200g moong dal, split

10 cups water

2¼ flat tsp fine rock salt

1 cup/85g dried shredded coconut

¼ cup finely chopped coriander

voggarane :

½ cup melted ghee

1 heaped tsp whole black peppercorns

10 pieces raw cashews nuts

1½ tsp heaped cumin seeds

¼ heaped tsp turmeric powder

¼ flat tsp asafoetida powder

20 fresh curry leaves

preparation:

In a heavy saucepan, wash dal several times until water runs clear – then drain.

Pour the water into a saucepan and bring to boil on a high heat, then reduce heat to maintain a rapid simmer. (Do not cover the pot, this allows certain impurities or energetic imbalances to be eliminated.)  You may need to skim off any foam which accumulates at the top at the beginning of boiling. Simmer for approximately 20 minutes. May need to add more water, depending on the preferred consistency of your Pongal.

While waiting for the rice and dal to cook, roughly grind peppercorns in a mortar and pestle and break the cashew nuts in half and half again. Measure remaining spices for the voggarane and chop the fresh coriander.  Set aside.

When the rice and dal have softened sufficiently, turn off heat and stir in salt, dried coconut and fresh coriander. Prepare the voggarane.

Voggarane :

Heat a small pan/bandalei over medium-heat, then add the ghee and roughly ground peppercorns and cashew pieces. Stir once, then allow the ghee to heat and the peppercorns to fry and cashews to turn golden – approximately 2 minutes.  Turn off the heat and quickly add cumin seeds, asafoetida, turmeric and curry leaves – in this order. Allow to fry for 30 seconds, swishing the pan around, allowing spices to fry evenly.

Pour the voggarane into the rice and dal mixture, mixing well.  You may need to swish the pan out with a little hot water to get all the remaining spices. Allow to sit for 5 minutes for the flavours to be absorbed before serving. Enjoy as is with a spoon of ghee or my prefered way of serving Pongal is with a tamarind gojju and lightly steamed greens. 

Goodness shared by Stacey

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tamarind gojju

26th November 2017

In my earlier days when I was studying yoga in Mysore, there was an Indian lady who opened up her house for Westerners serving breakfast and dinner.  She would make the most delicious Pongal drizzled with a sweet-sourish tamarind gojju.  Only recently, after making it for so many years, I finally obtained an authentic recipe for the Tamarind Gojju in India on our last retreat.  The secret lies in obtaining fresh curry leaves and using a seedless tamarind pulp.

~ Fallen leaves

~ The caress of Autumn

~ Favourite spaces

tamarind gojju

The colour and taste will vary depending on the type of tamarind used.  I use a partially dried, seedless tamarind pulp (on the right in the photo below) or when this isn’t available I use a moist seedless tamarind pulp which comes compacted in a package (to the left). 

The chilli, commonly used in South Indian cooking, is Byaadagi chilli and is known for its deep red colour; it is relatively sweet and less spicy.  If unsure about the level of the spice of the chilli you are using, leave whole or cut in half. Both the Byaadagi chilli and the seedless tamarind pulp can be purchased at your local Indian store.

The sauce will keep in the fridge for about a month. I recommend doubling the recipe and freezing in smaller batches to use as needed.

ingredients :

150g seedless tamarind pulp

3¼ cups boiling water

2 Tblsp oil

¼ tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp fenugreek seeds

2 Byaadagi chillies, sliced in half

⅛ tsp asafoetida powder

10 fresh curry leaves

150g jaggery, or dark brown sugar

¼ tsp turmeric powder

⅓ cup unsweetened dried coconut

½ cup water

½ tsp fine rock salt

preparation :

Break the tamarind pulp into pieces and place in a bowl.  Pour 1¼ cups of boiling water over the top and set aside for 30 minutes, mashing and turning the tamarind regularly to soften and to break it up.

Pour through a strainer and allow to drain, use ½ cup boiling water to rinse out the bowl and pour over the tamarind pulp. Using the back of a spoon, scrape against the bottom of the strainer to get as much of the thick tamarind liquid out as possible. Do this for five minutes and then pour over another ½ cup of boiling water – keep doing this scraping and pouring to get as much of the thick tamarind liquid out as possible until the water is used up. This process is fiddly and normally takes me about 15 minutes until I am satisfied with the amount of tamarind extracted.

When you have extracted enough thick tamarind juice, either compost the remaining pulp or place in a jar to use later in cooking Indian dishes.  Don’t worry, the tamarind sauce will be quite liquid, the jaggery/sugar will thicken it while it simmers. Set the tamarind sauce aside.

Over medium heat in a medium saucepan, add the oil, then add the mustard seeds.  When the seeds start to splutter and pop, quickly add the fenugreek seeds, chilli, asafoetida and curry leaves. Fry for a few seconds, then pour in the tamarind sauce, bring to a rapid boil, turn down the heat, and crumble in the jaggery/sugar.  Allow to rapidly simmer uncovered for 10 minutes or until it becomes slightly thicker and starts to come away from the edges around the saucepan.

In a high-speed blender, add ½ cup of water and the dried coconut.  Blend for one minute.  Pour this into the tamarind sauce, using a spatula to get as much out of the blender as possible.  Allow the tamarind to simmer for a few minutes, then add the turmeric and salt. The tamarind sauce will thicken as it cools. My preferred way of serving this is drizzled over this pongal dish, or as a dipping sauce with these samosas.

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