How to make Thengai Podi /Spiced Coconut Powder (Side for Tiffin/Rice)
This is one of amma's eagerly awaited dishes because, it was only made when we had to pack food to take along with us on long distance train journeys. There was something special about those trips. We (me & my siblings) had nothing important to do for more than 24 hours, our only duties were eating, napping, chatting (in person - not online!!) with fellow travellers & more eating from the food vendors through out the journey. We had minimal physical activity, yet the thought of the special meals packed by amma, would make our mouth water & sure enough we would be hungry on time. Mom pretty much made the same items for every trip, but whatever she made was always a hit with everyone. Her menu would include Idli, spicy tomato chutney, Tamarind rice, potato chips Curd rice, pickle, Poori, this thengai podi/spiced coconut powder mixed with gingelly oil. Breakfast, lunch & dinner; all pre-packed meal wise for every member of the family, individually wrapped in plantain leaves & newspaper, secured with a twine with their names written on it.
Oh the thought of it, brings back so many wonderful childhood memories. The simple joys of a minimalist life. No video games, no mobile phones, no ipods & headphones. We were each allowed to buy a comic, before boarding the train; which we would exchange once we were done reading it. Or we would just sit by the open window & enjoy the (hot or cool) wind blowing on our face; only to find out after a few hours that our face & hair is covered with soot!! Remember the good old steam engines? Those carefree days of fun & frolic, a time when we enjoy everything under the sun.
Getting back to the recipe, please take caution, (as mentioned below) while grinding the coconut; so you don't end up with an oily paste. Enjoy your Thengai Podi/Coconut chutney powder with a drizzle of sesame/gingelly oil & some steamed idli, dosa varieties or steamed rice. Sharing one of my favorite recipes from mom with my fellow bloggers at CCC# 32: May -- Week 4.
1 cup, Coprai/dehydrated coconut flakes
1.5 cups of fresh grated coconut
5 to 7 no:s, dry red chillies
Salt to taste
2 sprigs of curry leaves
a small marble sized ball of tamarind
1/8 tsp of asafoetida
1 tbsp, channa dal/bengal gram dal
1 tbsp, urad dal
1 tbsp, oil
Stove Top Method:
- If using fresh grated coconut, dry roast the coconut on a low-medium heat for a few minutes, until it starts to change to a golden color. The point of this step is to dehydrate the coconut to increase the shelf life & improve taste of the final product.
- Heat the oil in a pan, add the dals, fry until golden & follow with the asafoetida, chillies, curry leaves & tamarind. Fry on low-medium heat until chillies are roasted & all ingredients are aromatic.
- Let cool & transfer contents to a food processor/blender mixer, add salt & powder until fine.
- Now, you can either add the spice powder to the coconut & give it a stir OR if you are careful, you can add the coconut to the food processor & only give it a short burst (5 seconds) of spin; taking care not to grind for a long time.
- CAUTION: If you grind for a longer duration, the oil from the coconut will be extracted & you will be left with a sticky tasty, but pasty substance. :o)
- Enjoy this powder with some sesame oil drizzled on top, just like you would use the following delicious accompaniments - Idli Milagai Podi, Kollu Milagai Podi, Karivepillai Podi. Use with Idli, Dosa, steamed white rice or even use in your curries & Sambhar.