I have been watching from the sidelines as all sorts of mystery ingredients have been crisscrossing the country.
Logo courtesy "The Yum Blog"
Thank you, dear Latha, for kicking off this fun event here in the US and for sending me your precious homemade gift. It was so exciting to get something in the mail besides the usual junk mail and bills. My patience got the better of me and I ripped the envelope open while I was still in the elevator. The color and aroma of this mystery powder enveloped me right away!
I must say that no one guessed the answer *precisely* but a whole lot of people came very close! Most of you guessed sambar powder. Latha says that "it is what is called "Huli Pudi" which is very similar to Sambar powder". If I understand correctly, huli in Kannada means "sour" but is also the word used for a curry or sambar. It sounds like this is a go-to spice powder for Kannada cooks- with potential uses in sambar, dry vegetable curries, gravies, and those delicious rice dishes such as vangi bhaat and bisi bele huli anna. Here is Latha's beautiful post with the recipe and uses of huli podi. My first use of this precious powder is a predictable one- I made a simple sambar.
3/4 C toor dal
1.5 C mixed vegetables cut in chunks (I used onion, eggplant, endamame and carrots)
1/2 t turmeric
1 T tamarind pulp
1 T jaggery
2 t huli podi (or to taste)
1 t oil
1 t mustard seeds
pinch of asafoetida
10-12 fresh curry leaves
1. Soak the toor dal for 15 minutes and rinse well.
2. In a pressure cooker, combine soaked toor dal, vegetables, salt and turmeric. Add water to cover and pressure cook the mixture.
3. Soak the tamarind in 1/2 C hot water and extract the juice.
4. Heat oil, temper it with the ingredients listed. Add the dal-veggie mixture, tamarind, jaggery, huli pudi and salt. Add water if required. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.
I served the sambar with idlis for a perfectly heavenly Saturday morning brunch. The huli pudi gave the sambar a gorgeous color and irresistible flavor! Now that I have tasted this powder, I can't wait to use it in non-indicated ways- especially with potatoes, as Anita suggested. That would make one delicious filling for masala dosa!
Where does the Arusuvai Friendship chain go from here??
I am sending little mystery packages to
1. Musical, who gives us an unforgettable peek into the Punjabi home kitchen,
2. The Cooker, who always has inspiring and innovative ideas to share, and
3. Mandira, who started the Amish Friendship bread starter chain, which led to the arusuvai chain in India which in turn inspired the arusuvai chain in the US. She was the butterfly who started this butterfly effect, and it is only fitting that the trail leads back to her!
In addition, I plugged the names of all you good sports (whether you are a food blogger or not) who played along in the guessing game into a spreadsheet and used a random number generator to pull out 2 names from the hat- the "winners" are Superchef and AA!! If you would like a surprise ingredient (and a treat!) from my kitchen, please e-mail me your address.
Also, two of those who played along are "local people", so dear Bek and Seema, e-mail me if you would like a surprise too, and I shall deliver one to you :) Any other St. Louis bloggers/ readers (you don't need to have a blog), let me know if you want to play along and I'll be happy to share a surprise ingredient with you too.
Want a sneak peek into the headquarters of One Hot Stove? Head over to The Perfect Pantry to get a glimpse of my own highly imperfect one! Thank you, Lydia for this chance to reveal a little bit of my kitchen :)
Have a wonderful weekend!