Homemade Puli Inji-Tocco

Puli Inji FAQ: Your Ultimate Guide to Tamarind Ginger Chutney

1) How do I make puli Inji at home? 

The making of Puli Inji is an art, where ingredients of different taste profiles are blended together and slow-cooked for some time, to arrive at a unique flavour. Puli Inji is fairly simple and can be easily prepared at home, if you have the patience to make it to the right consistency. Preparation includes peeling and chopping the ginger to fine pieces. Soak the tamarind pulp in warm water for about 15-20 minutes to soften it. Once softened, extract the tamarind juice and discard any solids. Getting into the making, firstly, heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.  but you can use any cooking oil of your choice, although it is preferred to use coconut oil or sesame oil for authentic taste. Add mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds to the hot oil. Let them splutter. Add the dried red chilies  and sauté it for a minute or until they become aromatic. Add the chopped ginger to the pan and sauté it on medium-low heat until it becomes golden brown and slightly crispy. This can take about 15-20 minutes. Add turmeric powder and curry leaves to the ginger. Sauté for another couple of minutes. Mix the tamarind pulp extract with a little water to make it a smooth paste. Add this tamarind paste to the pan. Add the grated jaggery and salt to the pan as well. Mix everything well. Reduce the heat to low and let the mixture simmer. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the Puli Inji thickens and the raw tamarind flavour disappears. Once the Puli Inji reaches the desired consistency and taste, remove it from the heat and let it cool. It will thicken further as it cools down. Once completely cooled, transfer it to an airtight container.

2) What are the key ingredients in puli Inji?

The key ingredients are ginger, tamarind, and jaggery. The adjustments to the amount used for preparing Puli Inji brings variations to the dish. 

3) Is puli inji sweet or sour?

The typical taste of Puli Inji is a mix of sweet, tangy and spicy. It’s a blend of all three that each flavour pops up when it lingers in the mouth. In some parts of the state, ginger is used more and it creates a more spice dominance. 

4) Can I store puli Inji for a long time?

When stored in an airtight container and handled properly, it can stay for 2-3 weeks when kept at room temperature, and if refrigerated can stay for a few months. 

5) What are the different variations of Inji puli recipe?

While the core ingredients being tamarind, jaggery and ginger will remain, slight adjustments to the amount used as well as some additional ingredients results in variations to the dish in different regions. For example towards the southern part of Kerala, there will be a dominance for ginger that you get to bite the pieces which gives a spice aftertaste. Here, they call it Inji curry where ginger is predominant. However towards the northern side of Kerala, the ingredients are blended to a paste which makes and gives each flavour equal prominence, and calls the dish Puli Inji. 

6) Can I use Inji puli as a condiment for other dishes?

Puli Inji is a versatile condiment that pairs well with a variety of Indian dishes. Its sweet, tangy, and spicy notes can complement both vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals. Puli Inji is a classic accompaniment for steamed rice in South Indian meals. A simple combination of rice and Puli Inji can be incredibly satisfying. It can also be served as a side dish with dosa and idli. The tangy and spicy flavours of Puli Inji enhance the taste of dosa and idli. Some people like to have Puli Inji alongside biryani or pulao to add a contrasting sweet and tangy flavour. Most restaurants in the malabar/northern side of Kerala serve Puli Inji with your Biriyani. Not just the rice dishes, but even with chapati or roti it can be a great side dish, especially during the days when you are too lazy to cook. Apart from some of the mainstream combinations, a few other ideas to try are using Puli Inji as a dipping sauce for snacks like pakoras, bhajis, or vadas. Or even air fried or baked crisps and crackles. When you make your sandwiches next, try adding a layer of Puli Inji to it or use in wraps to give them a unique sweet and tangy kick. It can also be used as a dressing for salads, especially those with roasted vegetables or grains. Drizzle Puli Inji over grilled or roasted vegetables to add a burst of flavour. You can also drizzle it over the Indian chaats. 

7) Is puli inji a traditional Kerala recipe?

While it's challenging to pinpoint the exact date of Puli Inji's origin, Puli Inji is closely associated with Kerala's culinary heritage, and it is an integral part of the state's traditional cuisine. Over time, various regions and communities within Kerala have developed their own variations of Puli Inji, adding unique twists and flavours to the condiment. ‘Puli’ means tangy and ‘inji’ means ginger, in malayalam, representing the two important ingredients in the dish. 

8) Are there any health benefits associated with puli Inji? 

The ingredients used to prepare Puli Inji comes with its own health benefits and together as a blend it’s a great source of nutrients. Ginger is well-known for its digestive properties and can help alleviate indigestion, bloating, and nausea. It also possesses anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce inflammation in the body and alleviate symptoms of inflammatory conditions. Ginger as well as tamarind contain antioxidants that can help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body, potentially reducing oxidative stress. Tamarind is a good source of vitamin C, which is important for the immune system, skin health, and wound healing. The tangy and spicy flavours of Puli Inji can stimulate the appetite and make meals more enjoyable, which may be particularly beneficial for individuals with reduced appetite. It's important to note that while Puli Inji contains potentially beneficial ingredients, it is typically consumed in small quantities as a condiment or side dish rather than in large amounts.  

9) How do I serve Puli Inji with meals? 

Puli Inji is a condiment rather than a curry, so it’s not served in large quantities with meals, instead a dash on the side. It is the fourth condiment served during Sadhya, the vegetarian feast served in banana leaf in Kerala, after salt, banana chips and sharkara varatti. 

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