Maharashtrian amtis are of a hundred species and are the backbone of a lovely home-cooked Maharashtrian meal.
I could explain what an amti is to a north Indian audience and call it a kind of dal but, sorry, it's much more than that because it doesn't always have to have dal in it either. And its style of preparation varies all over Maharashtra and from house to house too.
I learnt this delicious, khatta-meetha, garlicky version of amti, with a tiny hint of jeera, called Jeeryachi Amti from my friend, the super-efficient Nema, who works in ad films and real estate.
She runs a formidable kitchen in her rambling home in Moira, Goa, turning out enormous, perfect meals, where even the scrambled eggs are cooked, orthodoxly, in the morning over a steam bath.
I have adapted her recipe for this amti slightly to my tastes.
It freezes very well, ideally in portions, and when you need some amti in a pinch, fish a portion from the freezer.
Serve with a simple tadka sabzi and steamed rice or rice bhakris and papads.
Nema’s Jeeryachi Amti
- 200 gm fresh coconut pieces
- Drinking water
- 4 tbsp grated fresh coconut
- ¾ tsp jeera or cumin seeds
- 6-7 pods garlic
- 1 red Kashmiri chilly
- 1 green chilly
- Salt to taste, about 1 tsp
- 1 tbsp oil
- 5-6 curry pattas or leaves + 7-8 for the tempering
- 1 tsp rai or mustard seeds
- ½ tsp hing or asafoetida
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 tbsp jaggery
- 1 tbsp imli or tamarind paste
- Grind the fresh coconut with drinking water twice and strain to make the first and second rounds of coconut milk.
The first round of grinding and straining will produce the thicker first coconut milk.
The second round of grinding and straining will produce the thinner second coconut milk.
Keep aside in a cool place.
- Also grind in a blender, without water or very little water, the 4 tbsp grated coconut, jeera, garlic pods, curry patta, red chilly, green chilly, water, salt.
- Heat the oil in thick-bottomed kadhai over medium heat for the tempering and add in the rai and hing.
Let it crackle and then add the remaining curry leaves.
Pour in the second thinner coconut milk, the ground paste, jaggery and the ginger and bring to a boil and lower heat.
Then before serving add in the imli paste and warm it a bit and then add the thicker first coconut milk and warm through, barely allowing it to simmer, or the coconut milk will split.
- Serve immediately with steamed rice, lightly-cooked sabzi and papads or with bhakris and sabzi.
Zelda's Note: It's perhaps not correct to suggest popping a sabzi into an amti, but try adding pan-fried bhindi (okra) or pan-fried brinjals (eggplant) or 2-3 sliced boiled eggs.
For a Jain version of Jeeryachi Amti, skip the garlic and use 1 tsp saunth or dried ginger instead of fresh ginger.
This amti pairs well with fried fish.
Lead Image: Kind courtesy Xylem7/Wikimedia Commons