Alright, you want a flavour sensation AND want it bottled to enjoy at each meal? I've got you covered.
Sweet and Spicy Ginger Pickle, or Inji Curry, is a staple for Onam Sadya (essentially a vegetarian smorgasbord served on a banana leaf in celebration of Kerala's harvest festival). It's usually served right beside a tangy pickle and, to be honest, it's always the inji curry I eat last. Gotta save the BEST for last right hehe :P
Inji Curry So, naturally, I HAD to try making it! Inji Curry has many names, one of them is Injipuli - a literal description of what's in the dish - Inji/ Ginger and Puli/ Tamarind.
So what does it taste like? You have GOT to try it to really know! It's got a diverse range of flavours all tickling the palate.
The toasted ginger imparts a woody flavour with a a more mellow ginger-flavour kick. The tamarind gives a slight sweet, and sour taste. The few green chillies added, gives a bit of heat. Finally, the jaggery/ palm sugar (I used coconut sugar) rounds it out with a buttery caramel sweetness that not only thickens the pickle but balances out all the other flavours.
Cooking Tips Learned
As I slowly get more in touch with the gastronomic traditions of Kerala, I've realised it's a MAJOR learning process. A lot of it involves watching, very closely, others (mostly Amma and both sets of grandmothers once I'm back in Kerala) cooking my fave dishes and, slowly, learning how to intuit how to make the dishes as flavourful as them. Massive learning process!
This is my first attempt at inji curry and some lessons were learned. I'll be making this again but I thought I'd share with you the learning process. :)
Although the taste was simply SUBLIME, the ginger pieces were a little too big. It improved massively with time as the ginger pieces absorbed more of the flavour, nevertheless, it can be improved.
When I make it again I'll either be 1. chopping the ginger even finer or 2. toasting the ginger in oil first then, once cool, grinding it up finely in a grinder and then following the rest of the recipe. Although it's an extra step, I'm leaning toward attempting method two, it seems more fool proof.
If you do go ahead and make this inji curry with the above improvements, please take pictures and let me know how it turns out!!
Now for that recipe!!
In 1 and 1/2 cup warm water, soak tamarind
In a small wok/ kadai, heat coconut oil and splutter mustard seeds. Add ginger, green chillies, curry leaves and a little salt. Sauté on medium heat till golden brown.
Lower to low heat, add chilli, asafoetida and turmeric powder, stir well to incorporate spices, few seconds only.
Add tamarind juice and salt, stir continuously on medium heat. Stir till gravy thickens. Add coconut sugar/ palm sugar, stir until well dissolved.
Remove from heat and let cool. Serve :)
Storage: Place in dry, sealable container. Keep in cool, dry place for up to a day until flavours become well incorporated. Then, store in fridge. Can be stored for up to 7 days.