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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