Ginger root is a very very tricky spice for me. It is a warm spice, that adds a lot of warmth to many dishes, but one that cannot stand up by itself as its way too over powering. Another such spice is the nutmeg. I love love adding ginger to hot tea, or in piping ginger rasam. Its an important ingredient in indo chinese cooking, specially the Indo CHinese Fried Rice, which is a favourite of mine or the GInger Capsicum Fried Rice. I hate ginger in cakes or icing or even in a warm pumpkin bread. I cannot eat even a pinch of the candied ginger that is supposed to aid in digestion. No thank you. I can have the tums or digene any day!!! The only only dish where ginger is a star ingredient which I love to have is the Inji Puli.
I remember hostel days when my friend Rose, used to bring jars of Inji Puli from her home town of Trichur when she would return from her vacation. After that we would have Inji Puli over bread, along with Maggi, as a side for chappathis, idlis or even dosas. Dinners would be awesome with all of us sitting together, discussing college gossips, eating piping hot dosas with sweet and spicy Inji Puli. At that time, I remember asking Rose how to make this and vaguely remembered the procedure. She kept telling me it was important to fry the ginger for that authentic taste. This was almost 13 years ago but then I decided to try it out from memory and with help from online sources, I perfected the recipe for Inji Puli.
2 Cups Tamarind Water.
4-5 Tsp Brown Sugar.
1 Tsp Red Chilli Powder.
1/4 Cup Finely chopped ginger.
salt to taste.
i Tbsp Coconut oil.
1 Tsp mustard Seeds.
Pinch of Hing
4-5 Fenugreek Seeds.
- Chop the ginger after peeling it and set aside.
- In a wok add 2 tsp of coconut oil and when its hot, add the chopped ginger. Shallow fry on low flame for abour 2-3 mins until the ginger is light brown. Set aside.
- In the tamarind water, add brown sugar, turmeric powder. salt, and red chilli powder, and mix them all in.
- Set over medium flame until the raw smell is gone add the fried ginger and allow to simmer.
- Place a kadai on the stove and add a spoon of coconut oil. Season with curry leaves, mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds and hing. When they splutter add it to the tamarind gravy.
- Set the flame to medium low and allow the gravy to simmer down until its slightly thick. If needed that this point you could add 1 tsp of rice flour dissolved in 2 tbsp of water and add this to the inji puli, as this helps in instantly thickening the gravy.
- Remove and store airtight in a glass jar, which will preserve for weeks.
Coconut Oil is a very important and essential ingredient to achieve the authentic taste of the Inji Puli. Please do not substitute with gingely or canola oil.
Frying the ginger on medium low flame until the ginger brown imparts the dish with a unique flavour of the ginger without the sense of overpowering the entire dish. It pllays along nicely with the tamarind and the brown sugar/jaggery.
Using brown sugar was option for me. You could also use about 3 tbsp of jaggery. Please use a little less and depending on the strength of the ginger. tartness of the tamarind, play with the quantoties of the jaggery. There should be a sweetness that is not too sweet nor too less.