75 years of experience all bundled in a 5 feet petite frame. Hands that have worked a gazillion times to feed much of the family, friends of the family, extended family and friends of the extended family. And not necessarily gone by the book. She does not need measuring cups and tools. Her weathered hands just scoops and scores. Nothing fancy about it , but the taste is always impeccable.
A bit of this and bit of that, and much love added as well. The age has definitely slowed down the bundle of activity a lot and I am witness to it . And just as to defy it, she clears the fridge out of 3 bundles of cilantro – fresh and not so fresh ones and makes her spice mix . Oh and what a hit it is at home. The flavor and aroma of it is simply outstanding and is a great accompaniment to everything from Idli’s and Dosai’s to a great topping on buttered toasts and sprinkled over fresh plain yogurt…Just eat it plain, with oil, swirled in yogurt or as you wish…Whatever you do , do not miss out on this one !
A great way to finish up large bunches of abundant cilantro or coriander leaves, a great substitute for regular coconut or tomato chutney and molagaipodi, a wonderful spice flavoring for rice and an awesome way to eat up large quantities of green. A finger licking concoction from the hands of a culinary expert , my MIL .
Prep time : 10-15 min + over night drying time for washed coriander leaves
Active time : 15 min
Shelf life : 1 month , best stored in refrigerator to prevent loss of flavor
- Fresh coriander bunches, trimmed : 3 -4, large bunches
- Channa Dal : 1/2 cup
- Split, de husked Urad dal : 1/2 cup
- Dry red chilies – 10 ( spicy kind)
- Dry Bydagi or kashmiri chilies – 4 ( non spicy, but adds vibrant hue)
- Sesame Oil/ Saffola oil/ canola oil : 2 Tbsp.
- Asafoetida : A generous pinch ( 1 tsp.)
- Salt : 1.5 tsp. + adjusted to taste
- Dry tamarind : 3-6 inches
- Powdered Jaggery : 1/2 tsp.
- Turmeric powder : 1/2 tsp.
Preparation of the coriander leaves:
- Trim the ends of the large bunches. I simply twisted out about 3 inches from the bottom to remove the stems. Wash in cold water very well. At least 3-4 times to remove the impurities.
- Spread out on a paper towel or napkin, in a cool dry place to dry in shade. I usually do this very late in the evening and it dries overnight on the counter.
Preparation of the dry chutney mix:
- In a wide skillet add half a tbsp. of the oil of choice and roast dry chilies and dry tamarind and set aside to cool.
- Add in additional 1 Tbsp. of oil and roast the channa dal and urad dal sequentially to yield brown roasted lentils. Do not speed up this process. You will have burnt lentils on your hand. Medium high is the way to go. Also do not roast both the lentils together. Channa dal takes time to roast and split urad dal will brown faster. So take it step by step. Remove and set aside to cool.
- Add in the remaining half tbsp. of oil and add the washed, dried cilantro with turmeric and half a tsp. of salt and wilt the cilantro. I believe this will also preserve the green color of the leaves. Remove and set aside to cool
- In a blender, add the red chilies and roasted tamarind and blend to a coarse mix and set aside in a mixing bowl.
- Add in the dals and jaggery and salt and whiz to a very coarse mix and empty out in the same mixing bowl.
- Add in the wilted cilantro and whiz a couple of times to shred it, add in the dal- chili mix to give a final couple of spins to yield a very coarse, granular, dry mix.
- Remove , taste test for salt and spices and store in cool dry place. As in my case, these were transferred to mason jars and stored in the refrigerator.
Notes: Do not over blend , you will be left with a thick paste. Pulsing is the way to go. Your aim is to have a coarse powdery mix of cilantro and lentils. You will notice the natural flavor and texture of cilantro this way. Another option is to roughly chop the cilantro after drying it and before wilting it in the skillet. This way you will have more even mix rather than rustic texture. Either way you cannot go wrong with it.
Pic ref : If you are wondering above the tag on Manirathnam on one of my pictures it refers to a maverick and extremely talented director of Indian cinema – who made movies using the diffused and dark light effect. When I shot this picture, I thought of him 🙂