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Amtis and Uncles

Amtijss

We had a family get-together some time ago. Actually, our clan is so large now, we were able to connect with just a fraction of them, those who live in Pune. A couple of aunts and uncles, one lot of first cousins, two lots of second cousins - children of the sons of our grand uncles, and already we were  spilling out of the living room into the large patio outside. Many of them I had not seen for years and yet they looked so familiar. We all shared some facial characteristics, such as the nose, or teeth, or smile, but most prominently - the wrinkles. It was exciting to exchange memories with each other, jokes which ran in the family about our not-too-distant ancestors, legendary tales of bravery, high spirits and misdemeanours. One favourite story which had made its way down each branch of our family tree was the one about an uncle (who was not known for his brilliance at studies) and who, with immense faith, arranged his books under the pillow before settling down to sleep, in the hope that the wisdom contained in those tomes would transfer itself to his brain in the course of a couple of nights. Suffice it to say this did not happen. But he was a man of such great good humour that he remained a favourite with all of his nieces and nephews.

It was pot luck for lunch and we had all brought a dish or two for the table, which, considering our number, was fairly groaning with food. We had decided to keep it simple, and so it was. And then we also discovered that we shared yet another thing - a cuisine. Our masalas were so similiar that while swapping  information on ingredients we found we used the same amounts  in the preparation of the godha masala, a standard  used to produce the amti we all ate regularly, and which is famously delicious... I have been sworn to secrecy about its ingredients by the family, so for the following typically Maharashtrian dish I suggest you add a godha masala of your choice. They are available ready made.Of course they taste nothing like our family's......

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Ingredients

1 cup toor (yellow split lentils) or masoor dal (red split lentils).
2 tbsp oil
Imli (tamarind), a walnut-sized piece. Soak in water for 10 minutes and then remove the pulp.
A sprig of kari patta (curry leaves)
1/2 onion chopped finely
* Optional: Add 1 medium chopped brinjal (aubergine),or a handful of methi (fenugreek leaves), or  1 chopped mooli (white radish). Note that if you add the methi, then you must add garlic and dry red chilli, crushed to counteract the bitter taste of the methi.
1/2 tsp rai (mustard seed)
1/2 tsp haldi (turmeric)
A pinch of hing (asafoetida)
1 1/2 tsp godha masala
Gur (Jaggery), 2 walnut-sized pieces
1 tbsp chopped dhania (fresh coriander leaves)
Salt

 

Cook the dal (lentils) first. When cooked add the imli (tamarind) pulp to the dal and mix well.  Heat the oil in a kadhai.

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Now add the mustard  seeds, curry leaves and onion pieces. Stir well. If you would like to add vegetables like brinjal, etc, add them now too. Let onions get slightly pinkish. Now add the haldi, red chilli powder, and godha masala. Stir well. When the onions are soft, add the dal, thick or thin, as you like it, and bring to a boil. Cut dhania (coriander) while the dal is boiling.

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Add salt, gur (jaggery) and dhania. Boil for at least 10 minutes to bring out the best of the flavours.

(Recipe and Cooking by my lovely cousin Mohini )

P.S Mohini makes goda masala to order. You can now contact her to place your order on 26850230.

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