Sunday, April 21, 2013

Gojjavalakki - Spiced tamarind poha

Since we missed our Ugadi earlier this year, we did a weekend celebration of Sri Rama Navami yesterday. Sri Rama navami is celebrating the birth of Lord Rama and since the climate would have already turned hot in most parts of India, the usual items made on this day are kosambari & paanaka (lemonade or seasonal fruit juices) or flavored buttermilk (called vaggarane majjige in Kannada). The idea is to keep it light and cool to suit the weather. I made this easy gojjavalakki which does not need any elaborate cooking and some flavored buttermilk.

Gojjavalakki also called huliavalakki is a tangy, spicy, aromatic dish made with avalakki or poha that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, snack or dinner :-). Paired with yogurt, this makes a full meal and keeps you full for a long time. Gojjavalakki is a very popular recipe among Mysore Kannadigas. If I were to compare this with anything else known, I would say it is similar to the tamarind rice but made with avalakki or poha/beaten rice. There are a few variations from family to family based on the individual preference for flavors. I follow nammamma's recipe faithfully and what I like about it is the addition of the freshly roasted and ground spices that elevates this dish. I will show you where you can stop alternatively if you are in a hurry or do not want to take the trouble of roasting and grinding the spice powder but I strongly recommend you try the full blown version as it is really very simple and easy to make.

Nammamma had planted some turmeric bulbs once in the yard and I am not sure if it was the soil or her tender care, the plant grew gigantically and we had turmeric leaves the size of a banana leaf. Fresh turmeric leaves are very aromatic and since we didn't know how else to use those beautiful leaves, she used to harvest them and cut them into 2 or 3 pieces and serve snacks on them. When anything hot touched those leaves, the aroma of fresh turmeric was almost intoxicating and it made everything put on it taste yummy, you would end up eating seconds and more of whatever was served :-). One such dish I remember eating on the turmeric leaves is this gojjavalakki. Then one of her Udipi friends discovered this coveted leaves in our yard and we came to know about the delicious patholi or kadubu in which turmeic leaves are used to wrap the batter. But the plant had spread so much in the yard by then, we were left with many leaves even when the neighbor picked them periodically for her patholi. By the way, I ate this patholi after a long time made by my friend S's mom last Summer and it was as delicious as I remembered, it is on my list of things to make and I will share the recipe with you when I do get to it.

I should have posted this recipe a long time ago given how much we enjoy eating it at home and how frequently it gets made in my kitchen. But I usually make this in large scale as it stays good and well suited for travels (no hassle of liquid spilling, no need to reheat or you needing anything else to accompany it) and really wanted to give measurements for a person attempting it for the first time too. And then there was obviously the photography to be kept in mind :-). I call this a 'no fuss' recipe and usually make these on the days I am pressed for time and will not stop to do justice with the pictures. Anyways, everything seemed to come together yesterday and here I am with a very well tested and tasted recipe from nammamma's kitchen. we ate this for breakfast, went and walked a 5K, came back and had it for lunch with yogurt :-)

Couple of things to keep in mind is to get the right kind of avalakki/poha. I have seen many 'thick' variety avalakkis, some labelled medium thick, extra thick and thick. I like the medium thick variety as it fluffs up nicely and also soaks quickly. You can use the extra thick variety, make sure to adjust the water and also let it soak longer for it to absorb the liquid. But never use thin or nylon avalakki used in chiwda as it tends to clump up upon soaking rendering it unsuitable for gojjavalakki. When done and ready to eat, the texture of gojjavalakki should be crumbly without being dry. For all my many friends who have tasted this in my kitchen and loved it, here is the recipe to make it your own too.
Humble offering of Gojjavalakki & majjige for Sri Rama Navami
What do you need to make Gojjavalakki?
Feeds 4 people for a meal
5 cups thick avalakki/poha
1 Tblsp crushed jaggery (use brown sugar as an 'ok' alternative)
1 Tblsp salt
1/4 Tsp turmeric
1/2 Tsp red chili powder/rasam powder
1 medium lemon sized tamarind - soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
To roast:
1 Tblsp chana dal/kadle bele
1/2 Tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 Tsp cumin
1/2 Tsp coriander seeds
3/4 Tsp black pepper
3-4 red chilies (adjust to taste)
1 Tblsp white sesame seeds
2 Tblsp grated dry coconut (kobbari) + little for garnish
For Seasoning:
2 Tblsp oil
1 Tsp mustard seeds
1/4 Tsp asafoetida
1 Tblsp chana dal
1 Tsp urad dal
2 Tblsp peanuts
8-10 curry leaves
1-2 red chilies (optional)

How do you make Gojjavalakki? 
  • Take 1-2 cups of avalakki at a time(depending on the size of your grinder vessel) and pulse it to make a coarse powder. The grains should be slightly bigger than upma rava/sooji. 
  • Soak tamarind in warm water for about 30 minutes and extract juice adding water to make about 1 cup of tamarind extract. 
  • Wash the powdered avalakki in running water once so it is completely soaked, add the tamarind extract, salt, turmeric, crushed/grated jaggery, rasam powder or red chili powder. 
  • Mix it together with very light fingers and keep it aside for about 30 minutes or until the poha soaks up all the liquids. If it looks very dry, sprinkle a couple Tblsp water on top. 
  • Heat a thick bottom pan and add the ingredients under 'To roast' starting with chana dal, give it a head start of 30 seconds, add fenugreek seeds, let them roast for 30 seconds together, add cumin, coriander seeds, pepper and red chilies. Let them fry for the next minute before adding sesame seeds. By this time the chana dal would be turning light pink and fenugreek would change color too. Continue to roast all the ingredients stirring once or twice for the next minute or so until the dal is light brown and sesame seeds start to pop. Add the grated dry coconut, mix everything together and switch off. Let it cool down. 
  • Take the cooled roasted ingredients to a coffee grinder and make a dry powder. 
  • Heat oil in a pan, add asafoetida and let it sizzle, add the remaining ingredients under 'For Seasoning' and fry until mustard pops and peanuts turn crispy. 
  • Once the poha has rested for 30 minutes, fluff it up with a fork and add the ground spice powder and the seasoning, mix well. 
  • Enjoy the gojjavalakki plain or with some home made yogurt. 
  • If you have a really flavorful rasam powder, you can skip the spice powder and just season the poha once it has soaked up the liquids. Garnish with some grated dry coconut and add a Tsp of sesame seeds in to the seasoning for extra crunch.
  • Texture of poha should be like coarse rava to get the right consistency of gojjavalakki without it becoming too lumpy or too dry. 
  • If you are unsure, err on the side of less water when you soak the poha, this can be remedied by sprinkling a little bit more water before adding the spice powder and seasoning. 
  • Do not let the water+tamarind juice stand above poha layer as this will definitely be in excess of what can get absorbed and will result in lumpy gojjavalakki. 
  • Gojjavalakki is a blend of sweet, hot, sour tastes, adjust according to your preference. 
  • Gojjavalakki stays good for 2 days outside (moderate temperature) and stays good for up to 10 days in the refrigerator. 


NamsVeni Pothas said...

wow. Gojju Avalakki is my favorite dish . sweet and hot preparation i love it.
Sri Ramanavami wishes to all Sattvaa readers.

Priya Suresh said...

Love to start my day with this beautiful tangy dish, filling breakfast.

Kaveri Venkatesh said...

We make something similar to this called puli aval...I guess the highlight of this dish is the spice powder...must try..

Malar Gandhi said...

Enjoyed reading your lovely write-up. Your recipe is also very interesting...a must try version for me. Beautiful presentation.

I moved my blog to a new doamin:

Please feel free to check it out. :)

Julie said...

wow..tempting n filling!!

Karan Fagne said...

Your recipe is looks awsme, you give the easiest way to prepare this recipe, from your recipe tips many people gets advantage. Regards, Poha