Puli in my native language means Tamarind or sour. In this context, it means tamarind. Inji means Ginger. So now you know what Puli Inji could possibly mean. It gets a perfect blend of sweetness from jaggery, sourness from tamarind and its fair amount of hot and spicy touch from Ginger. This is another placeholder in the ‘Sadya Ila’ (Feasts in Kerala are served in banana leaf and Ila means leaf) along side other pickles during Onam. Though it is served in a very minimal quantity(less than a tsp), an onam sadya is incomplete without puli inji.
You will find various versions of this item going from south to north Kerala. Towards the south, it is called Inji Puli or Inji curry. There might be slight variation in taste too. The difference could be in the proportion of ginger and tamarind used or in the consistency of the item. Well I know that I have got my perfect proportion for Puli Inji and that is given below 😛 My friend suggested me to mention that it has a good shelf life. You can store it in the refrigerator and it will stay fresh for 3-4 weeks.
Ginger(grated) – 1/4 cup
Jaggery – 1 cube (30 gms)
Concentrated tamarind paste – 2 tbsp
Green chilli – 3 nos
Mustard seeds – ¼ tsp
Red chilli powder – ¼ tsp
Asafetida – ¼ tsp
Curry leaves – 8-9 leaves
Coconut oil – 1 tbsp
Salt – to taste (apprx. ½ tsp)
1. Heat coconut oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds to it. Once it splutters, add grated ginger and chopped green chillies. Also add the curry leaves.
2. Fry ginger till it looses its moisture and becomes light brown.
3. Now add the tamarind paste and jaggery. Pour ½ cup water and melt the jaggery. Saute occasionally. Add more water if required.
4. Once jaggery melts, add red chilli powder, asafetida and salt.
5. Continue to cook in medium heat till it reaches the right consistency. It should be a thick paste and not watery.
Note: If you are not using tamarind concentrate, you would have to soak 2 gooseberry sized tamarind balls in 1 cup warm water. Squeeze the tamarind well and use this tamarind water. In this case, you will not have to add extra water to melt jaggery. Also, you will have to cook it longer to get it to the right consistency.