Friday 6 July 2007

Mor Kali

Mor Kali is a thick, greasy, white substance with deep red tinges here and there, interrupted by small black dots at reasonably regular intervals. You can put it in your mouth, and people with unspoilt, unpretentious tastebuds generally do so a second time, and then a third, and so on. The red comes from dried red chillies, and most of the flavour as well. South Indian cooking is seldom overloaded with too many conflicting flavours, and mor kali is one of the best examples of keeping one predominant flavour, and complementing it with other ingredients.

How does one go about making this stuff?

Firstly, you take a couple of cups of rice flour, and twice that amount of buttermilk. Put them together. Add some salt as well.

In a separate receptacle, splutter some mustard seeds, asafoetida, a handful of dried red chillies and curry leaves in a generous amount of oil.

Put exhibit A and B together, and stir. And then stir some more. And on and on until you end up with something that looks like it will stick to a spoon and refuse to come off, until it hits your mouth.

This should taste quite strongly, but not overpoweringly, of the dried chilli, while retaining the sourness of the buttermilk. The curry leaves and asafoetida should have also made their presence felt.

You can put this on a greased plate, and cut into interesting shapes; or you can put dollops of the stuff on your plate with a greased concave ladle.

It’s one of those things I never tire of eating, until I’m bloody stuffed, that is. Once you’re done eating, you may find cleaning the plate a bother, since this stuff has a tendency to absorb plenty of oil during the cooking process. My mum has been cheating lately, and making this in the microwave, with frighteningly small quantities of oil, but I have to say it tastes just the same.

You can also make another version of this dish, with javvarsi (sago – look up wikipedia if you’re still not sure). I like this even more than the rice flour version, and it looks awesome, with these translucent chewy pearls gleaming amidst chunks of dried chilli and the deep green of fried curry leaves, with mustard seeds dotting the landscape. It glides down your throat, and leaves a nice warm glow on its way down.

Try cooking this stuff sometime, but don’t blame me if the proportions go awry. My mum has perfected this stuff through years of throwing in how much ever she pleases of whatever it is that she’s throwing in. She says the above quantities will result in two well fed adult humans, add or subtract a couple based on appetites and so on. Happy kottifying!