Sunday, 22 November 2009


As I was blog-hopping this evening, I came across a blog called Inji Excellent photography and some very inventive dishes. Inji means "ginger" in Malayalam and I suddenly remembered my much loved injumpuli, variously known as inji curry, inji puli etc. across Kerala.

I must credit Ammamma, my mother's mother with introducing me to injumpuli. I must have been around 12 or so. My grandmother was at home with us on one of her "vacations" from her son's place. She usually stayed about a fortnight at a time, gossiped with my mother endlessly, (in later years, as her memory started failing her, she would repeat the same stories again and again, but with the same enthusiam each time) bought icecream for my brother and I and most importantly, delighted us with her cooking skills.

It was on such vacation that she decided to make injumpuli for me, knowing well that spicy-sour flavours were always a hit with me. My memories of the day are vivid. I remember trying to help her chop green chillies for it and my inexperienced fingers smarting at the end of that very short but painful chopping session.

Injumpuli is eaten as an accompaniment with rice, to spice things up a bit, much like pickle or chutney. I remember eating the injumpuli by itself, in a little steel katori, watching TV, reading, even when I was listening in to one of those mother-daughter gossip sessions. Needless to say, the injumpuli didn't last very long. And of course, my grandmother's vacation also came to an end. My mother wasn't indulgent enough to do a repeat for me, knowing fully well that the finished product wouldn't last very long given my appetite for it.

More recently, after I moved to the UK and have had to cook myself, the kitchen has become a familiar and comfortable domain for me. One of the first few things I tried to make was injumpuli. It came out beautifully. Just like my grandmother made it that afternoon, many years ago. It was polished it off in minutes. I have often wanted to make it again, but never got down to it. One of these days, I am going to get some nice plump inji from Sainsbury's and recreate the flavours in my little kitchen.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Confessions of a Herb Lover - Part 1

If anyone in my family loves meat, it's me. In anticipation of my bi-annual vacations at home, my father stocks up with the fridge with a few kilos each of chicken, mutton (pity they only sell lamb in London) and fish. Although I am a carnivore in the truest sense, I can't resist the sweet smell of coriander or the aroma of fried curry leaves. It was with some disappointment that I noticed that my neighbourhood Sainsbury's and Tesco were yet to come alive to this. Drummond Street alone provided some relief. Little relief, I should say - I only managed to get dry curry leaves. Not quite the real thing. And then I chanced upon the Tesco next to Kensington High Street. Wonder of wonders - there were hordes of fresh curry leaves, sold in packets. I was delirious with joy. Couldn't let go of this! I dreamt up a prawn curry, Kerala style, tomato rasam, tomato thokku, sambar, amongst others. Only the prawn curry has materialised so far. Blame it on a manic working week. The rasam and thokku shall arrive this weekend, when I get some time to plod around the kitchen. Until then, I've lovingly wrapped the curry leaves in tissue paper and laid them to rest in an old tiffin box in the fridge.

Anyway, here's the recipe for the prawn curry:

Prawns - 250 gm
Tamarind - small ball
Curry leaves - a handful
Methi seeds - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1tsp
Thick coconut milk - 1 cup
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tbsp
Garam masala - 1 tsp
Ginger garlic paste - 2 tsbp
Onion, finely chopped - 1
Oil and salt- as needed

1. Heat oil. Add mustard and methi seeds. When they sputter, add the curry leaves, onions and ginger garlic paste. Once the onions have browned, add red chilli powder, turmeric and corainder powder. Meanwhile, add some hot water to the tamarind and extract the pulp.
2. Add the tamarind pulp to the pan alongwith the prawns. Once the prawns have cooked, add the coconut milk and salt to taste.
3. Serve with plain rice. I spiced things up with a little lime pickle on the side - I recommend it. I use Geeta's by the way - addictive stuff, but let that be the subject of another post.