Saturday, November 3, 2007

Kalya Vatanyachi Amti

Kala Vatana (or black peas) is used in Maharashtrian cooking, but many of my non-Maharashtrian friends have not heard of it. It resembles black peppercorn, but it's a bean. It is little bit tough, so takes little longer to sprout and it's advisable to pressure cook.

Kalya Vatanyachi Amti and Vade (Malvani rice puris) is a very delectable Malvani preparation. Black peas are also paired with green beans , jackfruit, banana flower to make awesome bhajis. They not only add a protein boost to the bhajis but also provide a different texture. Another awesome combination, I have tasted is "Kalya Vatanyache Pohe" where black peas are added to the kande pohe.

This garam masala amti or curry is a "must-have" during the festivals and celebrations in Malvani households. But a general rule of thumb is that if making for any religious festival or Naivedya food, generally onion and garlic are avoided.

The recipe involves roasting of individual spices and coconut, and grinding to a fine paste. I still remember, my aaji - paternal grandmother - using her "Paata Varvanta" (Mortar and pestle) to grind the masala. Pata is made of stone and had a shape of a pentagon. Varvanta is a stone cylinder used to grind the masala on the pata by a back and forth motion. I do not have any picture of it but found it here.

My joy knew no bounds, when I discovered the black peas in our local Indian stores. I had to try one of my comfort foods immediately.

Here's the recipe.

Kalya Vatanyachi Amti (Serves 4)

Ingredients
oil 2 tsp
Coriander seeds 1 tsp
Pepper corn 7
Cinnamon 1"
Cloves 5
Poppy seeds 1 tbsp
Dry coconut 1 cup
A pinch of asafoetida
Dry Red chilies 7
Tamarind pulp 1 tsp
Jaggery 2 tsp
salt to taste
1 tbsp cashewnuts(optional) - soak in 1/4 cup water
1 tbsp fresh coconut slices (optional)

Method
1. Pressure cook the black peas sprouts adding little water. Keep aside.
2. Heat oil in a nonstic pan. Roast all the dry spices and red chilies except poppy seeds, one after the other. Keep aside in a plate.
3. Roast coconut on a low flame till it becomes brown. Do not let it burn. When it turns brown, add poppy seeds. Roast for 30 sec.
4. Grind all the roasted spices, coconut, poppy seeds, red chilies, tamarind pulp and little water to make a fine paste.
5. Add cooked blackpeas in a saucepan. Add ground masala and just enough water to make not too thin and not too thick gravy. Add salt and jaggery. Add cashwebuts & coconut slices, if using.
6. Let it boil. Lower the gas. Let it simmer for few minutes. Cover with lid.
7. Serve hot with Malvani rice puris (Vade) and hot plain rice.

Note
1. The same recipe can be used to make curries using Masoor sprouts, Chana sprouts, Chana daal, or even cashewnuts.
2.Instead of asafoetida, 2-3 cloves of garlic and 1 sliced onion can be roasted and ground with the masala. Generally for the religious festival meal, garlic-onion are avoided.
3. If you want to go really authentic, roast a whole onion on coals, take the peels off and then use the onion is the masala - if you are planning to use onion as mentioned in note 2.

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