When Nandita announced , I decided to submit this childhood favourite of mine – Puli Milagai. Spicy green chillies are simmered in tamarind with, surprisingly, very few spices. Don’t be alarmed by the amount of chilli in the recipe, after all, it is the star of the recipe. The recipe is put together with ingredients that takes care of the spiciness leaving you with mildly spicy and tangy sauce with a hint of sweetness from the jaggery.
A word of caution if you are preparing a chilli dish for the first time. Open all the windows before you set out to prepare this dish. If your kitchen is well ventilated, you can sauté the chillies for 3 more minutes and then simmer in the tamarind sauce which reduces the overall cooking time. If not, as in my case, sauté no more than a minute, else it is very difficult to get rid of the spicy fumes trapped inside. This cooking time is compensated by simmering longer in the tamarind sauce. Also, don’t forget to use gloves while handling chillies. Now, don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.
Chopped green chillies – 1¼ cup
Tamarind paste – 4 tbsp
Jaggery – 2 tbsp
Asafoetida – a pea size
Fenugreek seeds – ½ tsp
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp or as needed
Sesame or gingelly oil – ¼ cup
In a medium sized dry pan, roast fenugreek seeds till dark brown. Set aside.
Heat oil in the same pan, and fry asafoetida evenly on all sides. Drain and grind with roasted fenugreek seeds and jaggery to a fine powder. In a small bowl, take a cup of water and mix the prepared powder along with tamarind paste, turmeric and salt and set aside.
In the remaining oil, over medium heat, sauté the green chillies for a minute. Add the tamarind mixture to the chillies and cook for 20-30 minutes or until the chillies get cooked. Add more water if necessary. The chillies will turn from bright green to brown-green as they cook.
- Use powdered asafoetida instead of chunks. Roast the powder for few seconds and then add the chillies.
- Slit the chillies instead of cutting them into rings.
- If you are using raw tamarind instead of the paste, extract juice from a lemon sized ball of tamarind.
This is a must try recipe for all those spice-lovers out there. It goes well with anything, from upma to curd rice, from idly to roti. My favourite combo is with dosa. My mom would make this in the afternoon when I am not home. By the time I am come back from school, the chilli fumes would have subsided and a hot plate of dosa and puli milaga would await me. In an attempt to recreate my childhood memory, I made dosa just to serve with puli milagai :).