He says 'Sambar', I say 'Huli'.
He says 'pachadi', I say 'Chutney'
He says 'charu', I say 'saaru'
He says 'koora', I say 'Palya'
He makes fun of me when I serve a yogurt based gravy calling it bajji, for him bajji is a deep fried snack. I smile at the generic term pachadi used for both kinds with vegetable pieces and ones with ground up veggies. Thus goes on our light hearted banter in this cross border marriage until food fanaticism takes over, becomes personal and turns into fights. We end up having a Tu Tu - Mai Mai session until the food beckons us, then all is well with the world again atleast until the next time.
In the years I have been married to BH from the neighboring state, I have learned many nuances of the Telugu cooking while teaching him the subtleties of the Kannada cuisine. Big time foodies that we both are, we have enjoyed finding similarities and differences in the many recipes that we come across from the two regions. When I am annoyed with him, the one thing I shove at him is the famous gojju which doesn't (according to me) has an equivalent in his vocabulary so I can feel like I scored one :-), then he does retort back that some curries from Andhra cuisine have similar ingredients but having similar ingredients is not the same as having the same ingredients.
Gojju for me is that ultimate treat, a perfect blend of multiple tastes resulting in a burst of flavors. We always had more of this side dish than the usual main dishes as we would finish bowlfuls of the gojjus nammamma made. There are variations to making a gojju, it is a spicy, tangy gravy that makes a great accompaniment to rotis or rice. Nammamma makes perfectly consistent gojjus bringing out the individual flavors of the vegetables used by a subtle variation of one of the spices used or the way it is cooked. Gojjus are made with different vegetables (fried, boiled, steamed), there are hasi gojjus (no boiling/cooking involved) and bisi gojjus (heating or cooking involved). Gojjus are rarely made with a combination of vegetables, the only combination I encourage in my kitchen is the onion-tomato (a.k.a eerulli-tomato) gojju. Talk about weirdness..
Today's recipe - Okra gojju is a favorite at home, daughter loves it with rotis or chapatis, I love to eat it mixed with rice and BH loves it both ways :-). Like bitter gourd, people get divided into okra lovers or okra haters generally without any middle ground. Treated with care, this is a delectable vegetable with a very mild flavor and nutrients. If you are a first time user of okra, follow the tips at the end of the post to get a non-slimy, tasty okra dish.
What do you need to make Okra gojju?
1 pound of okra (about 25 tender ones)
small lime size tamarind - soaked in warm water for 15 minutes
2 Tblsp grated coconut - fresh or frozen
4-5 stalks of cilantro, cleaned and trimmed
1 Tsp jaggery/brown sugar
1 Tblsp salt (adjust to taste)
1 Tsp cooking oil
1/2 Tsp turmeric powder
2 Tsp chana dal/kadle bele
1/2 Tsp urad dal/uddina bele
1/2 Tsp fenugreek seeds/menthya
1 Tblsp white sesame seeds
4-5 green chilies cut into half
1 Tsp cooking oil
1 Tsp cooking oil
1 Tsp mustard seeds
1/2 Tsp fenugreek seeds
3-4 curry leaves
1/2 Tsp asafoetida
How do you make Okra Gojju?
- Prepare Okra - Wash and drain them, pat dry with a towel each of the okra until there is no moisture.
- Remove and discard both ends of the okra, cut the okra into roundels of 1/2 inch thickness.
- Heat 1 Tsp of oil in your cooking vessel on medium high, add the okra pieces, turmeric, cover and let cook for 8-10 minutes until okra softens and turns pale green in color.
- Open the lid, mix it once and add the tamarind juice extract from the soaked tamarind.
- Add salt, cover and cook further for 5 minutes.
- Fry the ingredients listed under 'gojju masala' in oil until the dals turn light pink and green chilies develop blisters on skin. Let cool
- Grind the fried masala ingredients along with coconut and cilantro into a smooth paste by adding 1/2 cup of water.
- Pour the masala into the okra pan, add jaggery and mix.
- Adjust the consistency of the gojju with water, it should be neither runny nor dry.
- Let the mixture come to a rolling boil, switch off the stove.
- Prepare seasoning by heating oil, add ingredients listed under vaggarane except curry leaves, let mustard and fenugreek crackle, switch off the stove, add curry leaves and pour the sizzling vaggarane on top of the gojju to finish off.
- Use 1 Tsp of tamarind concentrate in place of tamarind.
- Before you start cutting okra, make sure you have dried it completely. I usually leave it to air dry before patting them individually with a dry towel. This step is crucial to reduce the sliminess of okra.
- As you cut okra, you will notice your knife picking up the clingy thing from okra, keep a paper towel handy to wipe off the knife before you continue cutting.
- Gojju should be balanced in its sweet-sour-spicy-salty tastes, adjust the ingredients to get it to your taste.
- The chana dal in the masala makes the gravy thick on boiling, adjust the water to get the right consistency. Note: Leave the Gojju in a slightly liquid form when you switch off, it thickens as it cools.
- Tamarind, yogurt or tomatoes help remove the sliminess in okra, use these in various dishes to get a slime free okra dish.