Puli Inji is the sweet and tangy ginger relish from Kerala . No vegetarian feast – sadya – is complete without it . According to one story serving this is equivalent to serving 108 different dishes . Well , I am a fan of Puli Inji and it is the one dish that I must have for Onam or Vishu . Sweet , tangy and spicy – a dash of this is all you need to awaken your taste buds .
Puli Inji literally means tamarind ginger or sour ginger. Tamarind and ginger are the two predominant flavors in this dish. A little jaggery is used to bind these two strong flavors together. In many parts of Kerala this dish is called InjiPuli or simply Inji Curry.
There is no reason to wait for Onam or Vishu to make this. When not making it as a special occasion dish, the recipes might call for coriander powder onions or coconut. What I have today is how it is made for sadya. This version is a harmonious blend of sweet tang and spice , and is suited for longer storage.
The basic recipe is very simple, and that is how we make it. Finely chopped ginger cooked in tamarind , and jaggery with a few seasoning added on. Chopping ginger was the hard part. Ginger juices tend to act like chili pepper, burning the skin. If you are sensitive to it or multitasking , wear gloves while doing this.
This is how to prepare the ginger. Take a medium size bowl and fill with water halfway through . Peel the ginger and cut into big chunks and immerse in the water. This helps to take the edge of the ginger and helps save your hands from the burn. Thinly slice the ginger and keep immersed in the water . It is normal for the water to turn cloudy.
Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a pan or Kadai . Drain and pat dry the ginger slices . Fry these in batches till browned on both sides .
Drain the fried slices on a paper towel and let it cool . Once cooled transfer to a blender jar and process till coarsely chopped – about breadcrumb consistency .
While the ginger is being fried soak the tamarind in warm water and set a side . In another bowl dissolve the grated jaggery in warm water. Now it is just a matter of putting it all together.
Bring the pan back to heat , adding more oil if necessary. Crackle the mustard seeds and add the chopped green and red chilies , and curry leaves . Once these are fried add a pinch of asafoetida and turmeric . Mix and add the chopped ginger . Stir fry for a few minutes . Strain the tamarind juices and add to it . Bring to boil , add salt and let it thicken a little . Add a a couple of tablespoons of jaggery water, taste and adjust for sugar and salt . Bring the mix back to boil and simmer to desired thickness. Take off the heat. Cool and store in an airtight container.
Puli inji stays fresh unopened for a few days. Once opened make sure and there is a layer of oil on top. The oil is your insurance against spoilage. Thicker versions of puli Inji with more tamarind and jaggery lasts longer.
Refrigerate for longer storage.
- 8 Inch Fresh Ginger 200gm
- 4 Tbsp Jaggery Grated
- Tamarind Lemon Sized Piece
- 1/2 Tsp Salt To Taste
- 2- 3 Green Chili To Taste
- 1 Pinch Turmeric
- 1 Pinch Asafoteida
- 1 Sprig Curry Leaves
- 2 Dry Red Chili
- 1/2 Tsp Mustard Seeds
- 1 Pinch Fenugreek Seeds
- 4 Tsp Oil Preferably Coconut / sesame
- Peel the Ginger and Cut into 1" chunks . Immerse in a bowl of water. Take the pieces one by one, thinly slice and return to the water .
- Soak tamarind in 1 C warm water and set aside .
- Dissolve the Jaggery in 1/2 C water strain and set aside .
- Heat 4 Tbsp oil a pan . Remove the ginger slices from water and pat dry using a kitchen towel. Fry the slices in batches until evenly browned on both sides . Drain excess oil on paper towels. Set aside .
- Place the cooled slices in blender or food processor and process till coarsely chopped .
- Bring the pan back to heat and add the mustard seeds . Once it crackles and the chopped green chilies, dry red chilies and a pinch of asafoetida. Fry for 2 minutes . Add the chopped ginger and fry for a minute .
- Squeeze the tamarind to remove the pulp and strain the juices over ginger. Add salt and bring to boil . Boil for a few minutes till it thickens . Taste and add enough jaggery water to round off the taste . Simmer till Puli Inji has thickened.