Amti

From Ironic Chefs

Amti is a Marathi dal (lentil/legume) dish. The recipe we used was suggested by the wife of one of my Indian (but not Marathi) colleagues. I was a bit skeptical of the high ratio of spice to dal compared to other dals I have made, and indeed could not bring myself to put in the full stalk of curry leaves called for, because I have never used even half that much at once. Between that, our lack of a pressure cooker, a few missing and other uncertain ingredients in the goda masala, and some accidental overcooking, followed by overdilution, followed by hasty reduction to what we guessed might be the right consistency, we have no idea whether our amti is close to the real thing or not. But we did think it was very tasty.

If you already have the masalas (either store bought or homemade on another occasion) it is not very hard, but it does take awhile for the dal to cook. (I imagine a pressure cooker would be a bit faster.) I am told that the usual way to eat dals such as this is to take some rice and some dal and mix them together well on your plate and eat the combination.

Ingredients

  • 6-7 kokams (small, black dried Indian fruit)
    (Available at many Indian grocers. A souring agent--substitute tamarind or lemon.)
  • 1/2 c toor dal (not oily; hulled and split)
    (Available at Indian grocers. Yellow split peas are a reasonable substitute, or chana or moong dal.)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp any vegetable oil
  • 3-4 fresh curry leaves
    (Available at many Indian grocers and at Russo's. See a picture from Gernot Katzer's Spice Page.)
  • 1/2 tsp black (brown) mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp whole cumin seed
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1 bay leaf (I think I might have forgotten this)
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 green chilies, seeded and minced
    (We tend to use serranos, but wound up with bird chilies on this occasion. Jalapenos or any other relatively small green chili would also work.)
  • 1 tsp goda masala
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro

Directions

Soak the kokams in 1/2 cup slightly warm water. Set aside.

Rinse the dal in several changes of water. Soak in water to cover for at least 15 minutes. Combine in a pot with 4 cups water and 1/4 tsp turmeric. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer vigorously until very tender, 35-45 minutes. Stir occasionally and add more water if needed. Remove from heat and puree in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Rub the kokams between your fingers to extract as much pulp into the water as possible. Remove the skins and seeds and reserve the water.

Heat oil in a heavy 3+ quart pot. ("Hot but not smoking" is the usual guideline.) Add curry leaf, mustard seed, and cumin seed and fry a minute or so, until the mustard seeds pop. (The original recipe, rather descriptively, said "allow to splutter".) Add salt, bay leaf, cloves, and chili and stir fry a minute or so more. Add the kokam water.

Stir goda masala, garam masala, coriander, and remaining turmeric into 1/4 cup water. Add to the pot and simmer for a minute.

Add the pureed dal and stir to blend. Heat to a simmer and cook 10 more minutes. Add more water as needed to achieve the desired consistency. Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice.