Indian cuisine is like a vast ocean with a deepest seabed in the culinary world. Every regional cuisine being the precious pearls in this Ocean.
Deeper we dive, the more enriched we become. The vastness of diversity in our country is lucidly explained by a proverb, ‘every 2 miles the water changes and every four miles the speech’
Maharashtrian food in itself is a vast research topic. This land of great warriors, is geographically divided in 5 regions – Konkan, Vidharba, Marathwada, Khandesh and Desh. Similar to language differences in country, there prospers a huge diversity in our food habits and practices. This diversity has developed due to differing climatic conditions and as a result there is a varying availability of ingredients. While a Kolhapuri Misal is abundantly spiced to bring tears in your eyes, Ratnagiri Misal is subtly spiced and toned-down version of its Kolhapuri counterpart. A Konkani would swear by Bangda and prawns, whereas a Khandeshi would vouch for their mutton preparations.
Being an agrarian state, Maharashtrian cuisine has great variety of breads, veg and lentil preparations. I make sure that my family consumes a balanced meal by including different veggies, legumes in our diet. Maharashtrian dal preparations like ‘Mugache Varan’, ‘Lasanichya phodniche varan’, ‘God Varan ’, ‘Masoor Dalichi Amti’,’Turichya aani Mugachya Dalichi Amti’, ‘Katachi Amti’ and ‘Ambat Varan’ make a frequent appearance on our plate. Besides supplying daily intake of protein these preparations are an ideal comfort food when paired up with steamed rice and/or chapati. So when I am running short on time I rely on these comfort meals that are easy and quick to prepare. How much I value these recipes is evident from the fact that we have plenty of recipes in our ‘Comfort Food ’ playlist.
Amti is one of those recipes that just needs piping hot super soft steamed rice (we call it Gurgutya Bhat) and that gets you sorted! An inspiring idea is not only born in creative mind but also a satiated stomach. While I am alone at home during the day, I have 2 preferred choices of entertainment- Epic Channel for their content based entertainment and SAB TV for their humor content. At the risk of this sounding like a promotional post, which this is not, I would like to mention how much I like Epic Channel’s popular show- ‘Raja , Rasoi Aur Anya Kahaniyaan’- especially their season 1. A show that recalls Indian regional food history with several interesting anecdotes thrown in during the episode. I believe my affinity to such a show partly exists because of my overall inclination to anecdotes, stories and fables, if you may recall that’s how I grew up- listening to stories from Grandma.
Coming back to this show. One of their episode was about the rich and lavish food culture of Marathas. During this episode, in a monologue narrator talks about a brief history of ‘Sambhar’. At the risk of attracting brickbats from my South Indian brethren, the show talks about how Sambhar came into existence from Maharashtrian Amti. A quick search landed me on an article from Outlook-(https://www.outlookindia.com/blog/story/all-about-sambar/3589)
A family tradition – of sorts – is believed to have introduced sambar to the world. The story (with many deviations) goes that Shahuji Bhonsle, second Maratha ruler of Thanjavur (who reigned from 1684-1712), was to welcome cousin Sambhaji – son of Shivaji – to his palace. But preparations for a royal feast were hindered as kokum, used for Maharashtrian amti, was unavailable. So were supplies like moong dal, in whose place toor dal was used.
If you have similar inclinations as mine and stories drive your fascination, here’s one from that show https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6MEYuUn-4Y
There are lot of recipes followed for preparing Amti in different food cultures of Maharashtra, like Brahmins who add tamarind as a souring agent & put jaggery in Amti and their version is thinner in consistency, whereas in other parts it is made a bit thicker, spicy & tangy with bottled masalas like Malvani masala and Kokum. In some parts addition of Goda Masala is a norm. Though the ingredients may differ, the underlying feeling that this recipe carries is common- of a comforting, mother’s food!
This time I made it for Sunday lunch as we have to fulfil our incomplete tasks and next weekend we will be heading to Panchgani-Mahabaleshwar for a short trip with our close friends Girish and Pooja- a sassy couple who are flying from Bangalore just to spend quality time with us! I am so excited for this trip! Moreover, it was raining in Pune due to Okhi cyclone hit in Mumbai and Konkan coastal! So, the menu was steamed rice, piping hot Amti and fried dry chilies. So guys, let’s have a look at the recipe and do plan it on your lazy weekend! You can share your feedback with us in the comment section below.
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- ½ Cup=125 gms Tur Dal
- ½ Cup=125 gms Moong Dal
- 2 small=80gms Onions (sliced into lengths)
- ½ Cup grated dry Coconut
- 1 large sized=100 gms Tomato (cut intp cubes)
- Salt to taste
- ½ Cup fresh Coriander leaves (chopped)
- 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
- ½ tsp Asafoetida Powder
- 5-6 Curry Leaves
- 1 tsp Turmeric Powder
- 2 tbsp Malwani Masala
- 2 Kokum rinds
- 7-8 Cloves of Garlic
- Cooking Oil
- Soak both the lentils for 30 mins. After 30 mins, drain the water and put lentils in a pressure cooker. Add Turmeric Powder, pinch of Asafoetida Powder and Tomatoes. Add Water. Water level must be just above the level of ingredients.
- Pressure Cook on medium heat until 3 whistles.
- Meanwhile, we will make a Vaatan- Masala Paste. Roast grated Dry Coconut until it becomes brown in color and remove from the pan.
- Add 1-2 tbsp Oil. Add Garlic and fry until it turns light brown in color. Add Onions and fry until it turns brown in color (Onions become brown in approx. 10 mins) Add ½ quantity Coriander Leaves and mix. Finally add dry roasted Coconut and mix. Switch off the heat.
- Allow these ingredients to cool down and then grind into a fine paste.
- Heat 3 tbsp Oil in a pan and add Mustard Seeds, Curry Leaves, Asafoetida Powder, Coriander Leaves, Malvani Masala, Green Masala Paste. Mix and Bhunao.
- You can use some water for Bhunao. Add some Salt and continue to Bhunao (5-6 mins) until Oil begins to Ooze out.
- Add boiled lentils and water as per desired consistency (we have added 3½ Cups of water) and salt to taste
- Cook on medium heat. Add Kokum to simmering Amti. Stir, lower the heat and cook covered.
- After 5-7 mins. Uncover and stir. Turn off the heat and serve.
- Slightly Spicy and a bit Tangy. We have served Amti with Steamed Rice, roasted Papad and Fried Chilies. Amti and steamed rice is a perfect comfort food.
Click here to watch recipe video