As a kid, this was not one of my favorite dishes, but it did rank above the idli. Now I have no such reservations and I actually regret that I did not enjoy these special foods when I had a chance to do so. This was on my list of To Do’s last Christmas, actually one of over 75 different posts that I had planned to write in December during my annual leave. Unfortunately, it was barely enough for data collection. So here is how you make Pundi. Pundi sounds like and is probably derived from the Tulu word pundi which means fistful. You will soon see why
- Oil (for tempering -Traditionally coconut oil, now any edible oil)
- Mustard seeds (for tempering)
- A sprig or two of washed and chopped curry leaves [Murraya koenigii ] (for tempering)
- Coarse rice flour available in the market sold as idli rawa, or coarsely ground rice in a blender. [ Usual method is to soak the rice for some time, drain and grind coarsely without water ]
- Salt to taste
- chopped green chilies
- A handful of grated coconut
- You can also add a finely chopped onion. the onion needs to be chopped like when it is added to an omelet or for bhelpuri
We will be working on the tempering first. In a kadhai or wok, heat oil. Add Mustard seeds and when it splutters, add chopped curry leaves and chillies. Stir a couple of times.
Immediately pour water into the wok. The ratio of the water to rice flour is 1:1.25 i.e. for every cup of rice flour you would add 1 1/4 cup of water.
When the water comes to a boil, slowly add the rice powder while stirring all the while. Add the salt and mix well.
Keep stirring until the mixture traces. Then take it off the fire.
Wait till the mixture is cool enough to handle. However don’t let it get cold. If it has become too thick, sprinkle some water and mix well till you get the desired consistency.
Moisten the palm of your hand with water and shape the mixture into 2″ round balls. Since this is normally a fistful, this is where the word pundi (fistful) comes in.
Place in a steamer. Sorry, this is not the traditional copper steamer that we use. I’ll post its pictures in some other post. Mum likes to take short cuts, which irks me as I’m trying to document the old way of how things were done.
Steam for 10 minutes or until it is done. Place on the steamer only after steam starts exiting the steamer and not when it is cold and just starting to warm up.
You can check for doneness by using a toothpick or a knife. It should come out clean!
Ready for the table
You can see two different chutneys here. The one below is sweet -coconut in jaggery -not exactly a chutney. The other is a spicy-tangy podi or powder chutney. This chutney is sometimes also mixed with oil to make it adhere to the pundi more readily. Two other chutneys are also served with it, one is the standard coconut chutney served with dosas and idlis and the other is called the puli-munchi chutney which transliterates to sour-chilly. I’ve also often seen mum mix some chilly powder and a pinch of salt in a teaspoonful of oil and use that as a dip for variety. I will post the chutney recipes at a later date and then link to them. These are just various options that go with it. There is no reason why you should not eat chicken curry or some other curry with it.
There is one more variant for making pundis -stuffed pundis. Mum usually stuffs them with the same jaggery-coconut mixture shown above to make sweet pundis. To make sweet Pundis, while shaping the pundis prior to steaming, insert your thumb into the pundi after shaping it. Widen the hole and put in a teaspoon full of the jaggery-coconut mixture into it and shape the pundi again closing the hole that you just made. Steam as usual. I’ve not experimented with other stuffing -anything should work I suppose. Putting in a spicy chutney this way, you will have a good snack to carry when traveling and you won’t need to worry about extra containers for the chutney…. what about minced meat? Hmmm…
| Mrs. Manorama Soans|Mrs. Sunayana Walters|
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