Spicy Pongal (Khara Pongal /Moogachi khichidi)

 

Isn’t it true that simple, uncomplicated things are the ones that provide the most warmth and comfort? We had been to an Indian Restaurant last weekend in lieu of a mini-celebration and we had their lunch buffet. You know, how these Indian restaurants are with their buffets; they have a lavish spread of at least 20-25 different variety of dishes to offer, ranging from Naans/Rotis, curries, noodles, chaats, 2 deep fried stuff, 2-3 desserts, idlis/dosas, rice, biryani and what have you. All pleasing to the taste pallets but none to the heartJ.
 
It is hard to resist the temptation (especially for Foodies like me) and the next thing we know, we over stuff ourselves with food. Way beyond than our normal intake.  We enjoy while eating it, however once we sit in the car to leave that is when we start feeling stuffed, bloated and finally guilty. Of course, we promise ourselves that we will never go to any buffets or indulge that way again, but that never happens and that my friends is another story altogether.
Moving on, so toward the later part of the evening, and when it is about dinner time, we prefer to eat something light yet comforting. Seasoned Yogurt Rice does the trick or sometimes I make this quick and easy Spicy Pongal. It is warm and comforting and best of all does not make one feel guilty. It is indulging and I have mine with a bowl of yogurt and some lemon pickle.

 

 

Seasoned Rice Flour Dumplings

Update: Based on the comments here, I understand that this dish is called “Ammini Kozhukattais”. Thank you all very much for helping me put a name to this wonderful dish. I am also glad that I learnt something new.

Frankly I do have the correct name for this recipe. The title that I have is the description of this recipe. I learnt this recipe from my MIL (Amma) when I was in Bangalore last month. She had seen this recipe on a local TV channel. She shares my enthusiasm for trying out and creating new recipes.  

We were discussing new recipes, when she described this new dish to me. This seemed very appealing, new and also easy to create. In fact, she proceeded to make it for us while I noted the recipe and dutifully took the picture of it then. This is light tasting and serves as a good evening snack or as an appetizer.

 

Rice Flour Dumplings are first prepared and then seasoned with asafetida, curry leaves, coconut etc. Since the dumpling by itself is bland, the seasoning needs to be strong and spicy. The dumpling is then tossed around in the seasoning to coat it evenly.

 

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Raw Mango, Squash in Green Chilli Coconut Curry (Mirsang Ambat)

Typical Konkani cuisine involves lots of coconut in everyday cooking. It is not uncommon to see 2 coconuts being used the same day even for regular cooking. Thick chutney for morning breakfast of idli/dosa, coconut based curry for afternoon lunch, along with lavish sprinkle of shredded coconut on salads (kosambaris), side dish and dry curry (playa). Suffice to day coconuts are exhausted in no time. Of course, I also have to mention that this is for a regular family of 5-8 people.

But now with so much talk going on about the content of its saturated fat, I have seen many people use coconut with caution. But after having grown up eating coconut dishes for years, it is difficult to give them up. So at home I use coconut for cooking sparingly and believe that moderation is the key to everything.

I had a feast when I was in India and gorged on so many wonderful coconut dishes. Even adding little shredded coconut to cooked dishes made a whole lot of difference to the taste and its flavor. The first thing I craved for after we got back home from India, with effects of jet lag still on hand was spicy and tangy coconut curry over hot rice. That ‘kick’ would have been enough to overpower my fatigue and pangs of separation.

‘Mirsang Ambat’: In Konkani ‘Mirsang’ refers to Chillies, a generic term and that could be either red or green. In most cases the coconut masala called “maasolu” is usually made by grind coconut, red chillies and tamarind.

This is a easy recipe to make. I made this differently by using green chillies, coconut and then using raw mango to add for the tangy taste. Any vegetable of choice can be used for this recipe. An important note, this curry has a wonderful aroma and that comes only if strong asafetida (hing) and fresh curry leaves are added while making the tadka(seasoning). If these 2 ingredients are not fresh and strong then the curry will not be flavorful as such.

 

Ingredients

 

  • ½ cup grated coconut
  • 1/2 cup of chopped vegetable (I used squash, use beans, cauliflower, raw banana)
  • ½ cup of raw mango ( use 1 tbsp tamarind paste if this is not available)
  • Curry leaves 1 sprig
  • 2-3 green chillies (as per taste)
  • Mustard seeds
  • asafetida
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil
  • Chopped coriander for garnishing 

 

Method

 

  • Boil water in a vessel and then add the chopped vegetables and the raw mango. Make sure that the vegetables get cooked. Do not discard the water.
  • In the meanwhile make the coconut masala by grinding coconut, green chillies and salt with enough water.  (Use tamarind if raw mango is not available). Make sure that the paste is very fine.
  • Add this coconut paste to the boiled vegetables and the water and continue to boil. Check for seasonings and add salt, chillies if required.
  • Make a tadka(seasoning) of oil, mustard seeds, curry leaves and asafetida and add it to the boiled coconut masala. Close with lid immediately and switch off the stove. (Note: If curry leaves and asafetida are not fresh and strong then the curry will not be flavorful and may taste bland.)
  • Finally garnish with chopped coriander leaves.  Goes well with rice or with Rotis/phulkas.