Monday, August 20, 2018

Mangalore Pundi

The other day, I watched a cookery show where the host was making this dish, though she mentioned it as Undi, and a side dish to eat it with. I thought it was very similar to the pidi kozukkattai or the Arisi upma kozukkattai I make often. She ground some soaked rice with coconut and cooked the dish with that. I was mentioning that to my husband and he said that at home they used to make pundi or pundi gatti. I told him that I have never had it at his parents' home in all of these years. He said that I would not know, because his mother thought it was a huge effort to make these for breakfast. He also mentioned that they will taste good only if the texture is right. Many times they have ended up with somewhat hard pundis that will refuse to soak in the side dish, the gravy they make.
It is curious that I have lived in Mangalore, have had friends who taught me a few simple specific Mangalore dishes, but nobody suggested this. So, I launched my "operation pundi" and went to read recipes/ watch vidoes of making this recipe. The search got me more confused because each person suggested different rice, different ratios of the two main ingredients.
I decided to go with the video that set me on this project and made the dish.  It turned out well and my husband gave his validation. I wanted to convince myself that this was indeed the recipe. We messaged my husband's uncle requesting his wife to share the recipe. She called me and over the conversation suggested using pounded rice or store bought coarse rice powder and what not. In the course of our chat, she suddenly decided to tell me exactly how she makes them. Wasn't I waiting for this only? It was a simple recipe that I did not have to write it down, but thought of having a record lest I do not make it for another n number of years.


(Makes 15 dumplings)

1/4 cup (heaped) Idli / dosa rice
!/4 cup raw rice (Sona mansuri/ Kolam rice)
1/3 cup fresh grated coconut
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
Salt to taste

For tempering:
(pundis can be made plain also without any extra condiments)
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon urad dhal
1/8 teaspoon asafoetida powder
3-4 Byadagi variety (or any mildly spiced) dry red chillis broken in bits
Few fresh curry leaves

Wash both the rice clean and soak them together in water for a few hours.
Drain the soaked water and add them to the grinding jar. Add the coconut and grind them together to a coarse, thick paste. Add little water  during the grinding process.
Transfer to a bowl, rinse the grinder jar with about 1/2 cup of water and add it to the ground batter.
Add the salt and mix well.
Heat the oil in a heavy bottom pan. If you are tempering the pundis, add the mustard seeds. When they crackle add the rest of the items listed under tempering, saute until the urad dhal is fried to a golden shade.
Add the batter to the pan, lower the heat to a minimum and cook the batter stirring constantly.
The batter will cook and gather in a dough like mass.
Wet the tips of your fingers, take a small amount of the dough and roll between fingers to test the consistency.
If you are able to roll well in a smooth looking ball, the batter has been done.
Switch the fire off and prepare a steamer ready to steam the dumplings.
Divide the cooked dough in small portions and roll them in desired shapes. Some make cylindrical shape and some make them rounded balls or, you may shape them as I did, slightly thick discs with a dent in the middle.
Place them in the steamer separator and steam the dumplings for 12-15 minutes.
Remove from the steamer to the serving dish.

Serve them hot with coconut chutney, some vegetable stew or chutney of choice.

Some points to have in mind for perfect pundis:
The rice and coconut have to be ground only coarsely, more like large semolina. Grinding it to a smooth batter will make the pundis hard.
The mixed proportions of the idli rice and raw rice work well. Originally, the aunt asked me to use raw rice; I tried making the ratio that worked well for me.
The pundis can be made without adding any other tempering ingredients and they will look beautifully white.
Do not over soak the rice or steam longer than necessary.