Sunday, June 4, 2017

Hunise gojju or Puliyogare gojju - a homemade gojju to make that authentic Puliyogare

Hello all, sorry I went AWOL once again since the last post. But in my defense, I have not been too far away from blogging or food, on the contrary have been cooking up almost a storm especially during the long Memorial day weekend we had recently. If you follow me on fb or like sattvaa page you would have seen all the drool worthy pictures of elaborate meals that was going on in my kitchen. And those of you who visit here often and are generally familiar with what goes on in my life, yes you guessed it correctly, DD was home for the long weekend and hence all the extra cooking and eating. It was a last minute trip and she was happy to be home as we were to have her home. Other than a few small outings, three days went by in a flash and all three of us resembled a sloth after it has eaten a good meal, slower to talk, slower to walk.. you get the picture :-). We are now trying to become active in an attempt to lose part of those abundant calories we hoarded up in a matter of 3 innocent days:-) and hoping that they don't like us too much and make a permanent home in unwanted places.
To that end and also to celebrate our first summer weekend without rains, we hit the trails yesterday and today. It felt wonderful to be back amidst the lush greens, beautiful mountains and scenic lakes. It definitely helped in reducing the guilt feeling of eating all that unnecessarily extra calories last week :-) although it would take many, many honest hikes before it ever begins to even out. Weather is cool and skies are not blue yet, I can only imagine how much more gorgeous this view will be when summer is truly here but I am thankful for the cooler temperatures as I huff and puff up the mountain. This picture doesn't even come close to what it looked like or felt like from atop the ridge but that is the best an electronic gadget can do, enjoy.
So last weekend, one of the pictures I posted was that of the ever popular rice dish from Karnataka - Puliyogare. Also known as puliyodharai, puli sadam, pulihora or tamarind rice in other parts of south india. I made the gojju at home as I sent some of it off with DD so she can mix it any time with rice. The response and request for the home made gojju has been overwhelming ever since I posted the teaser on fb. I had no plans of writing a blog post because I am sure there isn't much in this simple hunise gojju (aka tamarind gojju) as we called it at home. Also, there were no pictures of the 'making of gojju' at all and a blog post is not a blog post without the step-wise pictures, agree? But here I am writing about it a week and half later partly as a way to record it on the blog and partly to help all of you who requested for the recipe. And yes, I did make another batch earlier today so I could take some pictures of the process for visual aid purposes :-).
If you are a South Indian, you will start nodding your head at precisely this point. All of us south Indians (bear in mind that there are exceptions to the rule always, but majority is what I am talking about here :-)) are in love with tamarind rice, no matter what it is called in local dialects. This tangy, sweet, flavorful rice is a staple at home, temples, weddings and all other occasions. It is easy to put together and always has an appeal whether you are making it for lunch box or for a get together. Some of the best tasting puliyogare are available in south Indian temples, not just in south india but here in US. Go visit Pittsburgh temple if you haven't and you will agree with me on this :-). The instant pickle and puliyogare in that temple kitchen have a way luring you to the temple as does the deity.

Temple puliyogare is very saatvik, devoid of too many spices, almost always hot rice mixed with a tamarind+jaggery paste and scantily dressed with a seasoning of peanuts, mustard and some dals. It always tastes divinely delicious. While this is one end of the spectrum, there is the other end with artisan puliyogare where purists scoff at you if you were to add peanuts directly into the rice, they handcraft this coveted rice recipe with roasted, deskinned, and halved peanuts before they are approved to go into the rice :-), and again this tastes delicious too. The one place I stand clear of puliyogare is at Indian restaurant lunch buffets, they just can't get it right. Some versions (especially Andhra Pulihora) have a low/no sesame seeds and adds green chilies to the seasoning, this is more of a 'make it today and eat it now' variety while nammamma's version always had freshly roasted and powdered sesame seeds. Sesame seeds in puliyogare is an association that my neurons have made and without that, puliyogare is not puliyogare for me :-). Puliyogare and mosaranna (curd/yogurt rice) is what you need to have if you are trying to befriend a true blue south indian, there is no going back after eating this made in heaven match.

Growing up, I can't remember a time when this gojju was out of stock in our kitchen. I remember it even from the days when there was no refrigerator and the gojju was packed in a dry box and kept in a cool, dark corner of the kitchen. Instructions were clear not to dip any wet spoons into it so we didn't spoil it. It was a very sought after dish not only to whip up a yummy puliyogare on a whim but also doubled as a side dish for hot chapati/roti or served as a lip smacking side with a bland pongal/huggi. It was omnipresent and omnipotent, we only had to be creative to use it in all the different ways and there was no dearth of creativity where food was concerned :-). Eat it with some cool mosaranna in summer and you will be a life time fan of this delicious combination. Nammamma used it as a quick go to when the vegetable basket was empty or one of us needed a lunch box and she was running late. All she had to do was mix it with some cooked rice and viola.. a delicious  puliyogare would be ready to go.
Now I said earlier  it was a simple hunise gojju right? A little explanation is needed as to why I called it 'simple' while you can make an exotic puliyogare with it. In its bare, bare form hunise gojju is literally that - a gojju (semi solid gravy) made with tamarind, salt and jaggery. Obviously this doesn't make a puliyogare as we all know. So the gojju needs other spices and flavors added to it. Many people I know make and keep just the thread bare gojju as its shelf life is longer but nammamma usually added the spices and flavors into the gojju itself as it would also serve as a side dish. Also the point of making the gojju is to have this instant mix on hand and if you have to spend time on roasting and grinding spices later, it is not much of an instant mix, is it? My quantities are much less than what she made and usually gets over in a few batches of puliyogare, so i am not too worried about the shelf life. I will point out where to stop if you are planning to make just the hunise gojju. You can add the spice powder just when you are mixing it with rice.
Since I made it to send it off with DD for her lunches, I made the full blown version but packed the seasoning separately so the peanuts and dals retain the crunch when mixed with rice. While store bought mixes serve the purpose, home made version always is tastier because of the love that went into preparing it, definitely devoid of preservatives and is more flavorful.

Keep a container of this gojju in the refrigerator and I promise you will reach out for it for uses you wouldn't have thought of. Puliyogare is always a preferred travel food as it not only stays good for a couple of days but gets better as it ages :-). BH's favorite way of eating puliyogare is with a side of tangy yogurt and I put the blame/credit for this way of eating on Bengaluru Kadamba (a restaurant famous among other things for their puliyogare) which he frequented during his early working life. I sometimes like to eat it with some chopped onion or just a bowl of seasoned yogurt rice.
What do you need to make Hunise gojju?
125gms tamarind (I used half of the 250gms package I get from store)
6-7 cups water
1/2-3/4 cup grated jaggery (adjust the amount based on the tang from tamarind and your own liking for sweetness)
3 Tbsp saaru pudi
1 Tbsp Red chili powder
3/4 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
2 Tbsp oil
1/4 Tsp turmeric powder
6-8 curry leaves
Spice mix:
1 Tbsp chana dal
2.5 Tbsp sesame seeds (I prefer to use black sesame just for the enhanced color, you can use polished if this is not available)
1 Tbsp coriander seeds
1/2 Tsp fenugreek seeds
1 Tsp black pepper corn
1/2 Tsp cumin seeds
2 small dry red chilies (optional, ok to skip)
2 Tbsp grated dry coconut (Kobbari)
Seasoning (quantities depend on how much rice you are mixing with gojju):
1 Tbsp oil
chana dal
Urad dal
Peanuts
Curry leaves
Pots & Pans: 
Use a thick pan made from non reactive metal. You do not want to use cast iron or iron pans for making tamarind gojju. Use dry spatula to enhance the shelf life of the product.

How do you make gojju?
  • Remove seeds and any thick veins from tamarind and loosen up the block. Tamarind I get here is very hard and made into a block to make exporting easier, so I like to open it up a little before soaking in water. If you get freshly dried tamarind, go ahead and use it as is. 
  • Put the cleaned tamarind in a bowl, add about 6 cups of water and let it soak for atleast 6 hours. I always soak it overnight. 
  • When it is soaked and soft, using the power of your finger and hands, squeeze the life out of tamarind and collect all the juice. I like to squeeze it over a sieve so the clear juice can be collected. 
  • Add another cup of water and make sure you get all the juice possible :-). 
  • Discard any remaining pith, seeds etc. 
  • In a seasoning pan, add chana dal and start to dry roast it. Give  it a head start and once it starts to turn light pink, add the remaining ingredients except for sesame seeds and dry coconut. 
  • Once the dal turns golden and you can smell the aroma of fenugreek & coriander, add sesame seeds and roast. Make sure you are stirring frequently. 
  • Once sesame seeds start to pop (takes about a minute or less depending on the heat), switch off, add dry coconut and mix. Let this mixture cool on the side completely before making a powder of it. 
  • Now pour the strained tamarind juice into the pan and heat it on medium heat. 
  • Let it come to a boil before adding turmeric powder. 
  • Let it keep boiling until the liquid reduces by half, thickens and loses the raw tamarind taste. It took me 20mins to get to this stage. 
  • If you want to stop with a simple hunise gojju - version 1, add salt here, switch off and let it cool before storing. If you are following along to make spicy puliyogare gojju, read on.
  • Add saaru pudi, salt and jaggery at this stage and let it cook for a few minutes. 
  • You have reached hunise gojju - version 2 here, you can switch off, let cool and store. This version is great with chapati/roti etc as well. 
  • If you are continuing as I did, add the powdered spice mix and mix it in. 
  • As the mixture would have thickened, this is the stage where bubbles pop in and out of the pan, be careful around them and reduce heat. 
  • Once the mixture reaches a dropping consistency, add oil, mix it in well and let it cook for 1-2mins before switching off. 
  • Gojju usually thickens as it cools. Cool completely, store in a dry, airtight glass or porcelain container. If refrigerated, it lengthens the shelf life and also retains the flavor. 
How do you make Puliyogare?
Below instructions are for 1 cup cooked rice:
  • Cook rice with a couple drops of oil so the grains are separate. 
  • Spread cooked rice in a wide plate so it cools down. 
  • Add 1 Tbsp gojju (adjust the quantity based on taste, it depends on the quality of saaru pudi and other spices you have used). I like to add gojju on the hot rice so the flavors release into the rice. But do not mix at this stage. 
  • Add seasoning on top of the gojju, and let rice cool down completely.  
  • Mix everything together with gentle fingers. Let it sit for an hour atleast before eating. 
  • You may need to adjust/add salt as you add rice. Taste test and decide. 
  • Puliyogare tastes best the next day. 

Notes: 
  • Quantity of tamarind above makes enough gojju to serve puliyogare for 18-20 people or 3 people 5-6 times.
  • I used my home made saaru pudi (linked above), you can use a store bought one or your favorite. Fresher the powder better the taste. 
  • I added Kashmiri red chili powder which has a vibrant color but not very spicy. Adjust the amount of this or skip it altogether if you wish. 
  • Jaggery is entirely your taste, we like our puliyogare to be sweet, sour and flavorful all at the same. Puliyogare is never spicy hot. 
  • Don't worry too much over the consistency of the gojju, key is to make sure there is no raw tamarind smell and to make sure it doesn't burn at any stage. 
  • If it gets slightly over cooked or gojju turns hard, nuke it in the microwave for 20-30secs before adding to the rice.
  • I like to add a couple spoons of grated dry coconut while mixing the rice. This is optional and can be skipped.  
  • I always make seasoning on very low heat so that dals retain their crunchiness for longer time after mixing in with rice. 
  • Long storing can impact the flavor of puliyogare, if you feel your gojju is slightly lackluster, bring it to life by adding freshly ground sesame seeds. Dry roast a tbsp of sesame seeds, powder it and add it while mixing puliyogare. 


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