Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Instant Amti for Instant Gratification

I'm back home in St. Louis and getting back to the routine. If this post is more incoherent than usual, don't worry, it is the jet-lag talking. We had a great vacation, and enjoyed the most incredible food, but as we got closer and closer to home, I realized how much I missed my own cooking! It's true- I cook to my own taste, so I love the food I make :D

Coming home, the pantry and refrigerator were as bare as Mother Hubbard's cupboard. I did have some rice and toor dal stashed away, and found a packet of broccoli florets in the freezer. Aha- the makings of a complete home-style meal were emerging here. The only thing needed to complete the meal was this little packet that I dug out from the depths of my luggage.


It is some instant amti masala, a loving gift from my Madhuri maushi (my mom's friend, she of the pav bhaji fame). Madhuri maushi is always full of new and creative ideas and every conversation with her is enlightening. She is both a maven and a connector, someone who knows everything that is going on in the city. In one minute, she answered my queries about the price of a stainless steel lemon squeezer, where to buy men's shirts in a particular neighborhood and what's playing in the local movie theaters. I suspect that when the folks at the Yellow Pages need to make an update, they simply call her.

Anyway, the point is that she told me about this instant amti masala. The point is to combine all the elements of the amti into one mixture that you can simply add to cooked toor dal. Amti is already rather easy to make, but this one is for desperate times like if you just got off a 14.5 hour nonstop flight.

She made this by sautéing curry leaves and cilantro in quite a bit of oil, then adding jaggery and tamarind, cooling the mixture and grinding it together with amti masala or goda masala and salt so that all the components of amti-making are in just ONE mixture. This can be stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks. To make amti, add it to cooked toor dal and bring it to a boil. That's it. I think this is a pretty clever idea and a handy shortcut for busy weeknights.

I made a quick broccoli-potato bhaji, and we sat down to a life-rejuvenating meal, complete with freshly-made and imported mango pickle. The pickle was made by a dear family friend who is an absolute expert at making pickles and preserves. This lady is getting older and has arthritis in her hands, but stoutly assured me that as long as she is around, she will keep us supplied with home-made pickles. How my mother manages to pack oily pickles for these long journeys so that not a drop of oil is spilled is simply beyond me.


*** *** ***

An Update on Dalu

While planning our long vacation to India, the biggest worry was finding a good home for Dale for the time we would be away. This was also the biggest worry for all of our colleagues and friends and neighbors who would gasp, "But what about Dale??" the second we mentioned our travel plans. We certainly did not want to leave the pup in a traditional boarding place, which is often little more than a cramped kennel. After asking around a bit, we found people an hour's drive away who let the "guest dog" have the run of their home, and let the dog run around all day in the acres of land around their home. Luckily, their rates were affordable as well, and that's how Dale spent a month in "doggie summer camp" while we were away. I'm told he chased their cat around the place and took possession of a couch in the living room. He's back home now, doing what he does best- napping here and there, staring moodily into space.



  1. I know what you mean... much as I love the food my mom/aunts make, there's nothing like my own cooked food after a bit. Even if it is as humble as dal-rice and curry.

    Welcome back.

  2. Glad you had a nice vacation. I too feel happy to be back to my home after a vacation. Glad i have company.

    The instant amti masala is interesting.

  3. Has it been a month already. The mango pickle and masala are special indeed.



  5. Hey wow!!
    What a lovely idea of the masala!!
    Just loved it!!
    And Welcome Back!!

  6. I woudn't mind to come home for that plate of food there.
    My daughter always ask for a pet dog, but we have to refuse as we go for travelling too and then it will be really difficult.
    One of my friends when seh went for holiday and they put her don in a place and the dog was so sad.
    Now she has found a better place and when they go for holiday them put him there. They just go for 10 days holiday so they acan afford to put him there, they amount they ask will make you gasp....

  7. Welcome back, Nupur.:)

    That instant amti masala sounds fantastic! I can almost smell it here.

  8. Hi Nupur,
    Nice post. Dale is adorable! If this Amti masala were commercially available in Bombay, your aunt would be sitting on a tidy little sum of $$.

  9. Welcome back Nupur, Amiti masala makes my mouth water. Glad Dale enjoyed a lovely summer camp :)

  10. So glad you're home and Dalu is too! He must have missed you so much, despite the cat and the run of the place. Maybe it would be a good place for Lady too, some time?

  11. Know exactly what you mean about home cooked meal after a vacation. Glad to see you had fun!

  12. hi nupur nice to see u back and had lovely vacation and ur amti masala looks very interesting... actually ur platter with the pickle looks so tempting with those broccoli florets looks so good!

  13. Nupur, I'm just so happy you're back! I missed you during your blogging break. But probably not as much as Dale missed you during your one-month absence...he's so sweet.

  14. its good to have you back and I am sure Dale bhubhu will agree with me on that!!!My DH is not a big blog reader(rather he is a hater) but when it comes to Dale bhubhu he likes to be informed!!We adore your dog. I wish I had the stamina and time to breed a dog.I love dogs!-Supriya

  15. The amti masala is very interesting! so, do u just do the usual 'fodni' add toor daal and the masala , and done?
    DALE is just as handsome as ever! does he have some white hair near his nose, or is it the light playing tricks?
    BIG hug to Dale!!!

  16. Nupur, welcome back! Glad to hear you had such a wonderful vacation. That's one tempting plate of food to have after arriving. :)

  17. Hope u enjoyed a lot.. the dhal and amti masala is really a great idea.. bookmarked it.. thats interesting...feel to grab that platter

  18. Such an innovative idea! Loved it.

    Just the idea of the cats and dogs in our lives spending days on end in a cramped up cage makes us shudder. Fortunately we found a cats-only and cage-free boarding place for our cats. But unlike the place you mentioned, this one is not reasonable :(

  19. Raaga- The humble food is what I miss the most, because I have had my fill of rich fried foods in the past few weeks!

    Jayasree- yes, there's no place like home :)

    Indosungod- yes, time flies, the year is half-way over, I just realized!

    M- thank you, thank you :)

    Chakhlere- thank you!

    Happy Cook- trust me, the amount won't make me gasp :) I have had a dog for too long and know these rates all too well! But I would rather give a dog a home and have to board him once in a while than not have a dog at all.

    TBC- it did smell fantastic- now my packed clothes smell of amti too ;)

    Prachi- I'm sure someone somewhere in Bombay is marketing it already!

    Sreelu- not sure how much he enjoyed it, he is still mad at us for leaving him for so many days!

    Mala- thank you!

    Alanna- yes, it is definitely a good boarding option; let me know if you ever need their number. We're all glad to be home :)

    Gini- I did have lots of fun :)

    Jayasri- yes, it was a colorful and tasty meal, even if it was a simple one!

    Mari- awww, it is so nice to see you here! I so missed being here too...hopefully I'll be posting regularly from now on.

    Superartsy- Dale thanks you for your affection and love :)

    Manasi- With this instant amti masala, you can make a phodni or not, depending on whether you have time. It tastes fine even without the phodni but adding it will make it even tastier.
    You saw that right- Dale is getting LOTS of white hair around the muzzle (and on his belly, etc). He is getting older, that's all :)

    Kalai- yes, it was worth it putting this meal together because it was sooo satisfying.

    Pavithra- go ahead, grab it!

    TheCooker- I know the kind of place you mean, we have one such "canine enrichment center" here that is great, but expensive. We use that for weekends but for longer periods, it is too much. The place we took him was more of a "gharguti" paying guest thing :)

  20. So happy to read your blog posts!

    Thanks for sharing so many delicious vegetarian and vegan recipes1

  21. welcome back!!

    i soo agree with what you much as i love my mom and mom'in'law's food, i still wanna come home to my own food that i make depending on my mood :)

  22. Ahh I can smell the comfort in that plate of food :) I love eating my own cooking too!

  23. Welcome back!
    The amti with goda masala, bhaji and lonche is my favourite comfort food. Your maushi is very talented, the instant amti masala is such a fantastic idea! I'm sure Dale must be glad to be back at his pad. Incidently, I too was wondering where he was 'vacationing'. Welcome back to you too, Dale! (belly rub, belly rub)

  24. Good to have you back Nupur and what a great meal of food to come back home too. It's amazing how easily & quickly you whipped up this tasty meal - amti masala sounds divine and I loved reading about M aunty and how well informed she is :)

  25. Welcome back -- it sounds like you had a wonderful vacation, and that Dale did, too. And how nice that you brought back all sorts of culinary treasures. Those homemade spices and pickles are always the best.

  26. Your madhuri maushi seems awesome! and i have to be honest..i like my cooking a bit too much for my own good...i love my mom and sis's cooking...but i also crave for the food i make! how narcissistic am I!!..glad you had fun trip to India esp. when you have been working hard for a while...

  27. Welcome back Nupur! Your Madhuri maushi is one to be treasured! Could you please post the recipe for making the instant amti masala? It sounds like a perfect solution to the time-crunched weeknight dinners!

  28. That Amti with Tup looks heavenly!

  29. Hi Nupur, first time to leave my comment here.:) Yeah, it's smart idea of Amti masala.
    Your blog is dedicated to Maharashtrian foods. Your blog will come to rescue me when I want to learn typical Marathi dish b'se my hubby is half-Marathi and I m Gujarati.:)
    Thank you.

  30. welcome back! I've been lurking on your blog for a while now (initially from India, but now from about 5 hours away from St. Louis) I LOVE your recipes, to say nothing of your anecdotes! Keep 'em coming!

  31. I get what you mean about wanting your own cooking. I start getting withdrawal symptoms after a while. The amtee sounds good.

  32. You do write the best posts!! Welcome back home.

  33. Kumudha- You are very welcome!

    Superchef- Exactly- no one can cater to our whims as we ourselves can ;)

    Nags- Comfort is exactly what I was going for!

    Namita- Hello :) How are you doing? Dale says hello too...he is trying to stay cool in the St. Louis heat wave.

    Laavanya- I had to whip up a meal at home...was not in the mood for anything from any restaurant by this time!

    Lydia- I did come back with bags stuffed with goodies for the kitchen, spices and preserves as well as some kitchenware.

    Rajitha- Not narcissistic!! We are food bloggers for crying out loud- we are officially nuts about our own cooking :D

    Pal- There's no recipe as such for the instant amti masala- just made by throwing in some of this and that as per one's taste. I have outlined the general method in this post.

    Smita- It tasted heavenly too :)

    Sonu- I hope you enjoy the Maharashtrian dishes here.

    freeze-dried- Thank you- what a nice thing to say!

    Bharti- Yes, withdrawal is exactly what happens!

    Priya- Thank you, thank you :)

  34. hey the instant amti seems to be a fantastic idea,you could also do the same by making a premix of grated dry coconut,cumin seeds,sesame seeds and a bit of poppy seeds and the famous kolhapuri kanda lasun masala.when u want to make an amti,heat the oil,add the mustard seeds and when they splutter add the mixture,saute it a bit and mix in the dal and let it boil till to get the splendid aroma of the amti!!

  35. Nupur, you are amazing when it comes to getting something delicious on the table in a hurry! This looks sooooo good!

  36. That is a delicious and totally satisfying meal to come home to.

  37. hi
    I look forward to reading your blogs and happy to see them regularly...
    This amti masala looks sooo tempting
    can you tell me what goes into it...
    i am always facinated by different types of dal preparations.


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