I have been on an extended break from from this blog and most of my social media. Life in general, and some minor but persistent health issues took precedence and the blog took a back seat. It basically meant I just didn’t get to use my camera much or sit at the computer. I’m back again and this time I’m sharing a recipe for Pulikuthi Upperi.
My native Palakkad Iyer cuisine is an interesting unique blend of vegetarian Tamilnadu and Kerala. A lot of our dishes can be found cooked only within the community. Pulikuthi Upperi is one such dish. Typically, it is a combination of three or four vegetables cooked in tamarind and spices, but can also be made with just a single vegetable. The hallmark of this dish is the use a spice powder made of roasted raw rice (not parboiled or steamed), split balck gram lentils (urad dal), fenugreek seeds and dried red chillies.
Some of the usual vegetables used to make Pulikuthi Upperi are Raw Banana, Colocasia/ Taro (Chembu in Malayalam), Okra, Pumpkin, Eggplant, etc. Some people also add Potato (not traditional) or Turkey Berries (Chundakkai). This dish is typically served as a side dish with rice and a gravy preparation like Rasam, Sambhar or even Molagootal. Here I have made it with just one vegetable – Colocasia.
Some people prepare Pulikuthi Upperi without tempering with mustard. They just finish the dish off like Olan, with a drizzle of coconut oil. This gives it a slightly different flavour. Please adjust the amount of tamarind, chillies and jaggery to taste. You can use whatever variety of white rice that you use normally for cooking. Try a fragrant variety of South Indian rice, but not Basmati, for an extra special flavour,. I have tried making Pulikuthi Upperi with Gandhakashala rice.
For the Pulikuthi Upperi :
- 1/2 kg Colocasia approx.
- 1 marble sized tamarind
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 2 sprigs curry leaves
- 1/4 tsp asafetida
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 to 2 tsp powdered jaggery
- Salt to taste
For the Spice Powder :
- 1/4 cup raw/ white rice
- 1 tbsp split black gram lentils urad dal
- 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 2 to 3 dried red chillies
- Start with prepping the vegetable and soaking the tamarind. Soak the tamaring in about 1/2 cup warm water. Wash the colocasia well to remove any dirt. Then peel and wash the colocasia again. Cut them into approximately 1” pieces.
- Rub the tamarind with your fingers and extract the tamarind pulp/ juice.
- Heat the coconut oil in a pot and add the mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the curry leaves and asafoetida and stir a couple of times. Do not let the asafoetida burn. Immediately after, add the colocasia pieces and tamarind extract. Mix in the turmeric powder.
- Let everything come to a boil. Then turn down the heat and let the vegetable simmer till it is cooked. Add a little more water if necessary to cook the vegetable. Whe done, the vegetable should be well cooked and moist with no water remaining in the pot.
- In the meanwhile, dry roast the ingredients for the spice powder. Put the rice and lentils in a small pan or wok and pan roast them over medium heat till they turn golden brown. Add the fenugreek seeds and chillies and stir a couple f times. Take the pan off the fire. Let the roasted spices cool. Then grind to a fine powder.
- Once the vegetable is cooked and dry, add the spice powder and mix well without breaking up or mushing the vegetable. If not tempering he dish, then finish off with a drizzle of coconut oil. Serve warm.