This recipe post has a little story. A childhood story before plastic took over our lives. We always ate in thalis which were either made of steel or brass even copper. Mainly steel.
We had a low table or chowki and patras with it to sit. Sometimes we used a chatayi or woven mat too. Food was served in thali and karoti and these small tumblers had tak/ mattha/buttermilk or water. They were always kept on the left side of the thali. Most of the utensils and furniture etc was given away when I was growing up because my parents kept moving from one place to another and carrying too many things was a headache. Mom still managed to save some heirlooms like a betel nut cutter ( sarota), karanji maker and spoon, a few lotas of different shapes and sizes, katoris and thalis, a few brass and copper cooking utensils, milk pots and some other stuff like bolti or morali/vili, a grinding stone, pestle and mortar etc.
This small thali seen here is about 59 years old. It was given to mom when my brother was born, mine is slightly bigger but I loved to eat in this one. Little thali, a small katori and a tiny tumbler. It fitted perfectly in the imaginary tales I spun all day as a kid. As I grew up things changed and reluctantly we shifted to melamine / china/ glass plates but now i’m going back to thalis.
Today I was reminiscent of my aaji ( maternal grandmother) and of many other things that were part of my childhood and growing up years and I wondered how does one feel eating in old utensils that have been a part of so many kitchen stories. I can tell you there is a certain joy and fulfillment that only these utensils can provide. It is the same with food. There are some soul foods that stay with you from your childhood to old age and as you grow older you crave for them more. Varan Bhat and Amti bhat are two such dishes. You can call them pillars of daily Maharashtriyan cuisine.
Simple, soulful and full of good nutrition, I love amti in all forms poured over hot steamed rice with a generous helping of hot ghee over it. Not many dishes can give me the kind of satisfaction like this does. I make it with or without coconut and with different lentils. All have their unique tastes but this particular one I like the most. A comfort food for all times made with toor dal / arhar dal / split pigeon pea, goda masala, tamarind and jaggery or kokum and jaggery for that tangy sweet taste. The flavor from kokum is distinctly different from the tamarind one. I have used soaked dry kokum here.
A typical meal for me would be steamed rice / bajra bhakri, garlic chutney or lime pickle, stuffed brinjals with in peanut gravy, aamti , fresh buttermilk and salt on side. Maybe a bowl of shrikhand or a peda to go with it. No other meals can beat it.
This amti has the goodness of tender drumsticks or sehjan ki phali or moringa pods which I love to suck on taking in the sweet flavorful flesh from inside.
Toor dal / arhar dal / split pigeon peas – 1/2 Cup
Tender drumsticks – 4 medium
Onion – 1 large
Curry leaves – 6-8
Kokum – 3 -4 or tamarind pulp as desired ( approx – 2 tbsp
Asafoetida – 2 pinch
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder – to taste
Whole red chlli – 1=-2
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds – 1/2 tsp
Goda masala ( I used homemade) – 2 tbsp
Jaggery – 1-2 tbsp
Ghee / clarified butter – 3-4 tbsp
Chopped coriander leaves – 2-3 tbsp
Grated coconut – 1/4 Cup ( optional ) ( I didn’t use)
Grated ginger – 1 tsp
- Wash and soak toor dal for 15 minutes then pressure cook it with grated ginger, salt, turmeric powder, asafoetida for 3-4 whistles or until soft.
- Soak kokum / tamarind ( if not using the seedless pulp) in warm water for 20 min and then mash the tamarind into a clear paste ( remove threads / seeds etc) .No need to mash kokum, just throw t in the dal later while seasoning.
- Chop onions in big chucks. 6-8 pieces of a large onion.
- Wash cut and steam the drumsticks. Check to rule out the bitterness.
- Once the dal is done, take a masher and totally mash the dal till it is one smooth mix. Add a cup of water and boil on low flame.
- add the kokum or tamarind paste at this time to dal.
- Add the goda masala to dal and stir. Also add the jaggery and give it a nice stir so that it melts nicely.
- on the other side, heat a pan, add ghee ( Ghee brings out the best taste in amti). Once ghee warms up add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and let them splutter.
- Add pinch of asafoetida again, whole red chilli, curry leaves and onion pieces. fry them till onions are translucent. Add grated coconut if using and stir. Add the steamed / boiled drumsticks. Stir and add a little chilli powder. Let it cook for a minute or two.
- gently pour the dal over this seasoning and give a nice stir. Check for sweet, salt and spice and make changes as per your taste. It must have a nice tangy sweet flavor spiced by goda masala.
- Let it boil for a while. Add water if the amti seems thick. It is supposed to be a little runny and usually thickens after cooling so keep a little more watery than usual dal. Discard the kokum pieces.
- Garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves and serve with hot steamed rice or bhakri.
It is essential to pour some hot ghee over amti bhat. It enhances the flavors and gives a lovely taste to the dish.
I used onion but traditionally no onion is used in this amti.
You can buy goda masala or amti masala from the stores or make them at home too.
Do let me know if you make this.