Tag Archives: lentils

Amti, my comfort food

Who can resist a well-made amti with steamed rice? Not me for sure. That is actually my comfort food when overeating has happened or I have been eating out a lot. More so in the festive season.

Amti is generally, a soupy dal made, with tur dal, tamarind, spices, jaggery and coconut. A well -known lentil-based dish, amti is eaten all over Maharashtra and Goa. Even during Ganesh Chaturthi and Diwali, amti is a must on the menu. In fact I have been relishing some delectable ones these last few days, as I was vegetarian.

It is the staple part of almost every meal and yet has variations, as different dals are used -Tur, masoor and black gram or even chickpeas and split green peas. One can just unleash one’s imagination and create new versions.

Some ladies prepare a sheng daanyachi amti, using groundnut paste and it is tempered with hing, green chillies.  It is absolutely delicious and has a unique flavour and aroma. It can be relished with bhakri or even with Masale bhaaat. Kala watana amti (black gram cooked in coconut, tamarind and jaggery) is also traditional. Goda masala or kala masala is the key to a well-made amti. That is what lends it that spicy flavour and a unique taste. And it is then balanced with the addition of sugar or jaggery. The proportion of this is key to get the flavour right. The sweet n spicy taste of amti is typical. Masoorchi amti made with sprouted whole brown masoor dal is another favourite.

What is interesting is that while dals are referred to as amti, some even call any curry an amti and thus, prawn amti is popular too, among the Non vegetarians. Oh! non-vegetarian amtis with sea food can be so delicious. But I must confess, I still prefer the vegetarian versions.

My twist on amtis has been a tomato amti that I prepare. My family loves it. Paired with rice and batatachi bhaji (potato preparation), it is a lip-smacking meal. It is a bit like the tamatar saar but with coconut, chillies, garlic et al.  I once savoured a mouth-watering Bhendichi amti. Amti made with bhindi(ladies finger). I  was pleasantly surprised that it wowed my palate considering, normally, I do not enjoy my bhindi or okra in a gravy. I prefer it dry.

The key ingredients in any amti are coconut, goda masala, jaggery and tamarind. The dals can be varied or even other ingredients can be used. The flavours and taste are distinct and any meal in the Konkan region is incomplete without an amti.

Some of the delicious amtis I have tasted are in hotels in Pune at Courtyard by Marriott Hinjewadi and of course at Taj Wellington Mews as part of a Maharashtrian Food Festival. Those flavours still linger in my mouth.

maharashtrian-food-festival-1

Do write in and share what’s your favourite amti. I am certainly making one for lunch today!

 

 

Garma garam khichdi……

Today is the perfect day for some hot khichdi. My ultimate comfort food anytime and more so in the rains. Khichdi, Khicuri, khichri…. it is known by many names, but they all mean the same thing – a combination of dal and rice cooked together, sometimes with vegetables.

It is a complete and nutritious meal in itself. Different parts of India prepare khichdi differently, but we all love it. My favourite is the Bengali version with moong dal, potatoes, other vegetables. A dash of chilli powder, bay leaves n garam masala, added and it is unparalleled. Light and delicious. It is simple to prepare too and can be made at a short notice. Pair it with papad and pickle or begun bhaja(brinjal fry) and you are in seventh heaven.

Gujaratis too make great khichdi which is eaten with their sweetish kadhi. Delectable. The Gujaratis also do a spicy version called the vaghreli khichdi. Mumbai has several restaurants which serve this khichdi. Soam in Babulnath, Mumbai makes delicious bajra khichdi. Taste plus health. I somehow don’t relish the daal khichdi offered by Udupi joints in Mumbai. there is too much of haldi in those.  Another variation of khichdi which I enjoy making is palak khichdi. Add blanched palak to your regular moong dal khichdi with ginger, garlic and voila! a great meal is ready. Again, it is not neccessary to use only moong dal in khichdi. I often make it with masoor dal and even chana dal. Only the tempering should be different.

Interestingly, in Mumbai we call the upvas food sabudana khichdi by the same name, even though it is not made with rice and lentils. a friend of mine makes khichdi with seven grains. It is the ultimate in taste and nutrition.

Some people enjoy their khichdi with pickle, others with curd. whatever the accompaniment, I am only particular about the fact that the khichdi should not be overpowered with spices. Otherwise the purpise of having a light meal of khichdi is defeated. In fact it is often eaten when one is unwell or has an upset stomach. I can eat it anytime.

Khichdi is a versatile dish and so much can be done with it. One can add interesting ingredients to it to give the basic khichdi a twist. I am all set for making khichdi tonight. Are you?