A 50 year old red-oxide floored kitchen; a huge bubbling baandli (kadai) sits on a gas stove next to a south facing window in the brightly lit corner of that kitchen. The white wall behind the stove turned somewhat brown is spattered with black-brown blotches. A middle aged saree clad lady stands facing the window vigorously stirring the contents of the kadai, her eyebrows cringing, her arms covered in a towel to avoid all the vicious spattering.
This is the picture that pops up on my mind’s screen on recollecting the making of PuLiyogare Gojju. The lady is none other than my aunt and I was a witness to this scene in my grand dad’s kitchen ever so often during my growing up years, a kitchen where everything was made from scratch and Gojju was not an exception.
While Puliyogare Gojju was a prized edible possession, Gojju making had seemed to me like a cumbersome affair because it was always made in huge quantities. Besides serving to fill numerous tummies of the joint family, from every batch of Gojju, generous portions were dutifully packed off in sealed steel containers to the married daughters of the house. Sending homemade care packages as a gesture of love and display of affection is an unsung tradition in Indian homes. One that my aunts and mom have done without fail all these years in the form of this labor of love – Puliyogare Gojju.
As a kid, the Gojju making process was etched in my mind as obviously laborious and a bordering dangerous cooking adventure better left to my experienced aunts and mom. A combination of this vivid mental picture and the promptly recurring supply of freshly homemade Gojju might be the reason it took me this long to face my fears and attempt making it myself.
If not for the blog, I would have survived for as long as possible procrastinating and avoiding the very thought of making it. Good news is that I did get to conquer my fear at least for the sake of the blog and for all of you who have been waiting for the next step that follows Homemade Puliyogare Mix. I’m almost sure you’ll find it worth your wait.
There are several versions of this Puliyogare Gojju. Most versions call for oil, seasoning and tempering as well. The one I am sharing today is an evolved version based on convenience of making and shelf life. Shelf life of homemade food matters especially when making such labor intensive food. Might as well make it last longer if you are putting in so much effort, right?
Best part about this recipe is that there is absolutely no spattering at all when compared to the versions using oil and has 2 ingredients, three if you include water as well.
Go ahead and make it fearlessly. Keep it ready while I return with the final sequel – the authentic Iyengar Puliyogare recipe.
- 250 gms Tamarind, seedless
- 1/4 cup crushed unbleached jaggery (Unde Bella)
- 3 cups water to soak
- Clean the tamarind removing any remnant seeds and fibers.
- Wash tamarind and soak for at least 2 hours (up to overnight in the refrigerator) in just enough water, about three cups.
- Hand squish tamarind to take out all of the pulp. This might take several minutes of squishing. When you are done, squeeze out all the fiber and discard until thick pulp is left.
- Heat a non-reactive thick bottomed pan or kadai on medium heat and pour all of the thick pulp into it and let it come to a gentle boil. It begins to appear like fiery tiny bubbling volcanoes.
- Keep stirring to avoid scorching until the intense bubbling gives way to mellowed hissing sound and a thick paste. The consistency of the Gojju goes from being like dosa batter to idli batter to thick jam. Add in the crushed jaggery and keep stirring till the paste comes together as a single mass peeling away from the sides of the pan and moves in the pan when tilted. This takes anywhere between 45 mins to one hour.
- Cool completely before storing Gojju in an airtight container. It thickens a little bit more after cooling.
Gojju stores well in the fridge for up to a year. Always use a dry spoon to handle Gojju to avoid spoilage.
Preferably use old tamarind to make this Gojju as it lends a deeper color and taste.
I prefer to use the darker jaggery balls also known as muddhe bella or unde bella in kannada rather than the blocks.