Onam dishes….Inji Puli—Perfect balance of Sweet and Sour….

It is Ladies lunch time again!  After a long and hectic summer break for everyone, we meet again. We have been having monthly ladies lunches for maybe 5  yrs now. I fell off the circuit after returning to work. Missed the camraderie, gossip and trying everyones varied cuisines. We have such a diverse group that we can travel thru a different state of India every month.

 That is what I love about our small town…..we have people from almost every region in India that not one group is a majority (…well maybe Andra Pradesh has the lead)  but we all come together as Indians of varying backgrounds. There are no separate Malayalee (people from the state of Kerala—where I originate from)  groups, Tamil Sangam, Kannada Kootam, etc….  meeting on their own, doing their own thing, celebrating their own festivals. We celebrate together. I always quote a friend, Rajagopal, who jokingly said our town is utopia…. maybe it is.

Anyway back to Ladies Lunch.I am hosting the ladies lunch this week in honor of a Kerala festival called Onam.  Onam is akin to Thanksgiving in the US. It is a harvest festival as well as the return of the great king Mahabali. He returns once a year to be with the people of Kerala once a year( …..long story involving a demon, being banished from his home, etc….most Indian folklore follows the same story line…..maybeI’ll tell that story another time) Anyway, one of the traditions of Onam is the Onam Sadya(feast), a vegetarian feast served on a freshly cut banana leaf . More than  30 different dishes are served one after another with a method to the service and how it is placed on the banana leaf . It is a slow and steady eating ritual done only once a year. Everyone in Kerala celebrates Onam, Christian, Muslim or Hindu alike.

I thought I would do a  “mini-Onam” lunch. Now, “mini” and Onam do not go together but more so “mini” and anything I do don’t go together!!   

So one of Onam recipes I’ll share is sweet and sour and spicy, all at the same time—

Inji Puli Curry   (Ginger Tamarind Curry)

This is  one of my favorites. I don’t know why everyone doesn’t make this more often than during Onam.There is saying– “Inji puli ondinkkal 10 para choru oonam”  “—if there is inji puli then you can eat 10 measures of rice”……. And yes, it is best with plain white rice.It really is an accompaniment than a curry as a little goes a long way. They also say that Inji Puli is like Life at its’ optimum—–a perfect balance of Sweet and Sour. So, friends, I wish you all a perfect Inji Puli Life!!

Inji Puli Curry


4 cups of sliced fresh ginger

 3 Dried Red chilies
8-10 fresh curry leaves
2 sliced green chilies1/2 cup chopped onionTamarind- lemon sized ball dissolved in 2 cups of water1 cup dark brown sugar

1 tsp red chili pdr

 1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp Mustard seeds

 pinch of asafoetida

Salt to taste

1/2 cup Coconut oil (can use Vegetable or Canola oil)

1 tsp Chana Dhal
1 tsp Urad dhal

a large frying pan heat coconut oil to medium heat and  add the sliced ginger. Fry unti golden brown. Take care not to burn it. All that ginger will reduce to half  when fried.

Remove ginger to a separate plate leaving oil in pan. Into oil add the mustard seeds. After spluttering add curry leaves, red chilies and dhals. Then add chopped onions, green chilies and let brown slighly. Add chili pdr, garam masala, salt. Then add tamarind water and fried ginger. When boiling add the brown sugar and let thicken. Add the asafoetida and remove from stove. Let cool and transfer to a clean jar. Will keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks or so.

Perfect with some  piping hot rice ….That’s all I’ll need for dinner tonight! Now as for my son ..that’s a different story–I’ll have to buy him a pizza or something ! 🙂

Inji Puli


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