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Showing posts with label ambila. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ambila. Show all posts

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Black Rice And Pumpkin Soup ( My experiments with Ambila )

 IMP - Black Rice And Pumpkin Soup is an original recipe created by the blogger and has been published for the first time on oriyarasoi.com.

Ambila. Sweet, sour and with a hint of chilli, this traditional soup from Odisha is a hot favorite during the winter months. It has quite a few variations in terms of the vegetables used and the choice of souring ingredient. While availability of certain ingredients is definitely an important factor, the major influence lies in the preference of the local populace. Though dried mango is the most popular souring agent used, tamarind or even sour curd is preferred by certain people. The sweetness also varies as per personal preferences. Strangely enough, the absence of any sweetening agent is enough to label it as 'Kanji', another close cousin of the ambila.

While both these traditional recipes are quite popular in my home, I picked the 'Ambila' for a makeover because of the 'sweet' component. The strong earthy flavor of black rice pairs rather well with coconut and jaggery, both of which are integral to the 'Ambila'. The deep hue (anthocyanins) of the black rice adds a whole new appeal to this traditional recipe.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 35 mins ( plus 30 mins soaking )

Ingredients - 

  • 1/2 cup sliced pumpkin
  • 3-4 tbsp black rice ( coarsely ground )
  • 4 tsp jaggery ( or as per taste )
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated coconut
  • 1-2 dried mangoes pieces
  • 1/2 tsp pancha phutana 
  • 1-2 dry red chilis
  • 1 1/2 tsp canola/rice bran oil
  • a  pinch of turmeric
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Soak the coarsely powdered rice for 30 mins in 1/2 cup. 

Soak the dried mango pieces separately in 1/3 cup water

Cooking - Heat 1/2 tsp oil in a deep vessel. Add the pumpkin slices along with a pinch of turmeric. Fry for 3-4 mins.

Add about 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add the soaked rice and let it boil for 15 mins.

Stir in the jaggery and grated coconut. Boil for 5 mins.

Finally add the dried mango along with the water used for soaking. Adjust the salt. Keep boiling for 5 mins.

In another small pan, heat 1 tsp oil. Add the broken red chili and pancha phutana. Once it starts spluttering, pour it over the ambila.

Serve hot.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Gurubariya Ambila ( A rustic vegetable soup from Odisha )

Well...excuse me for the 'Gurubariya' bit . I kept thinking of a name for this recipe and could not come up with anything better. While the Ambila is a popular dish from Odisha which is somewhat similar to the Andhra rasam, this version is made only during Manabasa Gurubar or the thursdays of the Hindu month of Margasira. Devoid of the generous garlic tempering and made to include only a few select vegetables ( sweet potato, radish, banana stem & taro ) that are usually offered to Goddess Lakshmi, this has a unique taste which is unlike the regular vegetarian version (click here for recipe) or the non-vegetarian version(click here for recipe).

Read on -

Preparation Time - 15-20 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1/2 cup radish (cut into circles)
  • 1/4 cup sweet potato (cut into circles)
  • 1/4 cup taro/arbi (cut into circles)
  • 1/4 cup banana stem (cut into small pieces)
  • 1 green chili
  • 1 dry red chili
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ginger juliennes (my addition)
  • 1 tbsp jaggery
  • 1 lemon sized ball of tamarind
  • pinch of asafoetida
  • salt to taste
  • 1/5 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp refined oil/ghee

Preparation - Mix the banana stem pieces with a bit of salt and set aside for 20 mins. Squeeze out the water from the pieces.

Soak the tamarind in 1/2 cup warm water for 15 mins. Mash it with hands and strain the liquid. Discard the solids.

Cooking - Add all the vegetables to a pressure cooker along with 4 cups of water, green chili, turmeric and salt to taste. Cook for 2 whistles. Remove from flame and keep aside till steam escapes.

Put the pressure cooker on a low flame. Add the jaggery and the tamarind to it. Allow to simmer for 6-7 mins. Adjust consistency.

Heat the oil/ghee in a small pan. Add the cumin seeds, asafoetida, broken red chili and curry leaves to it. Once it gets spluttering, pour the tempering over the contents of the pressure cooker. Boil for 1 minute before removing from flame.

Serve it hot with meals or enjoy as a light soup.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Maccha Ambila

Maccha ambila can be broadly described as fish cooked in a light sweet-tangy gravy. The tang could come from anything ranging from 'ambula' (sun-dried raw mango), tamarind, tomatoes to even curd being used in a few versions. There are too many versions of this recipe to pin-point the original one if at all there is one. I had not come it during my growing up years in the Western part of Odisha. Ofcourse, there was the delightful kanjee or ambila which was a kind of light vegetarian soup. Maybe it was created by some fish worshiping person who took his muse to another level by combining it with the tang of the 'ambila'. It is reminiscent of the Bengali 'Tawk' which my parlour lady had told me about but I feel the spicing is different for both the recipes.

It is during moments like this that I feel a wave of resentment towards the Odia ladies of yore who were so busy cooking up 'chaa tiana, naa bhaja' ( roughly translated into six curries and nine fries ) for the male members of the house that they never found the time nor the inclination to chronicle their vast gastronomic experiences. But then these ladies would lovingly ply the plates of the male members and the kids with second or even third helpings, only to eat a bowl of 'basi pakhala' (stale rice soaked in water) with some 'kandia-lanka paga' and some raw onions. Personal ambition was not their forte. Things would have been different had it been so.  Maybe it is kind of touchy, but then it reflects on the status of women in Odisha. Personally I feel that things have changed but only on a superficial level. However this is hardly the platform to lament on social issues. "Its a food blog for God's sake", I have to keep reminding myself.

Coming back to the recipe, it has hardly been documented just like the vast Odia cuisine. So I decide to give myself a free reign. Kind of liberating, isn't it ? No set rules to be adhered to. But then I do have the spiraling tomato prices on my mind which is why I decide to skip this foreign import. We call it 'bilati baigana' for a reason, don't we ??

Read on for my version -

Preparation Time - 20 mins

Ingredients -

  • 3 pieces of Rohu fish 
  • 1 small onion
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 inch ginger
  • 1 dry red chili
  • 1/3 tsp cumin
  • a pinch of fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard paste
  • 2 nos of ambula (dry mango)
  • 1/3 cup curd
  • 2 tbsp jaggery (one can also use sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/3 tsp chili powder
  • salt to taste
  • 4-5 tsp oil

For tempering -

  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • 2 pinch mustard seeds
  • 6-7 fenugreek seeds
  • a pinch of asafoetida
  • 1 tsp oil

Preparation - Add a pinch of turmeric and a bit of salt to the fish. Marinate for 10 mins.

Take the garlic, ginger, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and dry red chili in a grinder. Make into a paste. Add the onion (diced) to the same grinder and buzz for 1 sec to get a coarse paste.

Soak the ambula in 1/2 cup hot water for 20 mins. Dissolve the mustard paste in 1 cup water.

Lightly beat the curd to break the lumps. Add a little water to it.

Cooking - Heat the oil in a wok. Add the marinated fish and fry on both sides till lightly browned.

Remove and keep aside.

Add the onion and masala paste to the same wok and fry till the raw smell goes off. Add the strained mustard to the wok. Add salt, turmeric and red chili powder. Bring to a light boil.

Slowly add the curd with constant stirring. Once it gets to a boil, add the soaked mango along with the water used for soaking it. Sprinkle the jaggery and allow it to dissolve.

Add the fish pieces to the grvay and cook on medium flame till you get the desired consistency. It will take about 5-6 mins.

Heat oil for tempering. Add the mustard and fenugreek seeds. Follow with the asafoetida and curry leaves. Fry the leaves for 4-5 seconds. Pour the tempering over the fish gravy, mix in and remove from flame.

Serve at room temperature. Tastes best with white rice.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Ambila. This watery yet yummy sweet-sour preparation from Orissa can also be termed as 'Odiya rasam' as it is similar to the south indian delicacy. But as compared to the latter it is quite loaded with vegetables, usually the seasonal variety. Hence it is nutritious and low in calories at the same time. Read on for the recipe:

Preparation Time - 25-30 mins

Ingredients - 1/2 cup cubed pumpkin, 1/2 cup thickly sliced cucumber, 1/2 cup cubed colocassia, 1 large tomato, 3 tsp yogurt, 1 tsp besan, 1 tsp tamarind pulp/ 1-2 ambula, 2-3 pinches turmeric, 1 tsp oil, salt to taste, 1 tsp sugar.

For tempering - 4-5 crushed garlic flakes, 2 sprigs curry leaves, 1-2 tbsp chopped green onions, 2-3 dry red chillis, 2 pinch asafoetida, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1/4 tsp cumin seeds, 2 tsp oil

Preparation - Take yogurt, besan and 3-4 tsp water in a bowl. Mix well till no lumps remain.

Dissolve the tamarind pulp in 3-4 tsp water and keep aside. ( if using ambula soak it for 2-3 hours before using)

Cooking - Boil the pumpkin, cucumber and colcassia with 5-6 cups water, turmeric and salt in a large saucepan.

Heat another pan/wok. Add 1 tsp oil. Fry the chopped tomato till mushy. Add the tomato to the other vegetables when they are half cooked. Boil for 2-3 minutes.

Add the yogurt mixture and keep stirring for 5 minutes till it gets to a boil. Add the tamarind water/ambula and sugar.

Heat oil in a tempering pan. Add broken red chilli, mustard and cumin seeds. When it starts spluttering, add the asafoetida, crushed garlic, curry leaves and spring onions. Fry for 30-40 seconds.

Pour the tempering over the contents of the saucepan. Boil for 2-3 minute. Switch off flame and remove from stove.

Serve cold. (Tastes even better the next day, just take care to remove it from the fridge a good 2-3 hours before consuming.)

Note - Other vegetables like eggplant, radish, okra, ash gourd, amaranthus stem are also added to this recipe. But I had prepared this with all the leftover veggies in my fridge. 

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