Monday, August 18, 2008

Variety Is The Spice ...

Flavours of the desert, I thought romantically, wondering whether it would make a nice opening line for this post. And the desert came to me indeed, in the form of grit and sand that I found myself chewing mid-chapati-bite.
For a few weeks now, I'd been trying to visit a new shop near my place that promised "different foods", but managed to visit it only last week. It had the usual different foods but what set it apart were the ker (on the right) and sangri (on the left), both dry, desert vegetables that I've not seen sold anywhere else, and two or three different kinds of kokum. In a rare moment of self-control, I let go of the kokum and bought just the ker and sangri. And then scrabbled frantically among my many cookbooks for Tarla Dalal's Rajasthan Cookbook.

I didn't know if I had amchur with me - there was a hazy memory of it being somewhere in the cavernous pit that's my kitchen shelf but after a week of reluctance, convenience vs moral dilemma (why can't I just buy another pack of amchur, why should I look for it), I finally dragged the stool up to the shelf, got on to it and peered into the dark recesses, only to find the packet right in the front, in foil pouch nicely bound with rubber band.

Then I shot off a mail to the hostess, asking her whether amchur would be considered a spice and when she replied in the affirmative, I went ahead with this dish.


After two days of ker sangri-from-the-fridge, I've come to the conclusion that the spice in my preparation was more asafoetida than amchur. Well, this morning there was some amchur, but this evening, I could taste only the asafoetida. As I use neither that often, amchur even less than asafoetida, I've decided I will enter the Think Spice event with both. Well, there's a third spice - red chilli powder - that this dish celebrates (oh yes, it causes tears) but I'm going to recommend lesser.

You need:

1 tablespoon ker
1 cup sangri
1/2 tsp turmeric powder/haldi
3 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp coriander/dhania powder
1-1/2 tsp amchur/dry mango powder
1 tsp sultanas/kismis
salt to taste

For the tempering

2 Kashmiri chillies (I used 1 ordinary red chilli)
1/4 tsp ajwain/carom seeds
1/4 tsp asafoetida/hing
3 tbsp oil

Pressure cook the ker, sangri and salt with 2-1/2 cups of water. Let the cooker hiss thrice.

Let cool, then drain the water and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well.

For the tempering, heat the oil in a pan and add all the ingredients in that list. When it crackles, pour it over the ker sangri mixture. Mix well and cook for a few minutes. Serve hot with puris, parathas or missi rotis.

I don't think my mushy ker sangri is the real McCoy so I have kindly linked to this.

Here's another recipe with sangri

I liked my ker sangri with a dollop of curds/yoghurt - I found it too intensely dry/dusty-flavoured otherwise - at present, I can't describe it any better.

It did mellow with age.

And for the authentic experience, please have it with homemade rotis, unlike me, whose rotis came from a plastic pack and were warmed in the MW!

This goes to Think Spice's anniversary event.

Valli and I have been in touch regarding some fund-raising for her helper's daughter, Lakshmi, who has a severe heart condition and needs surgery to correct it. You can find the details here, please do your mite.


  1. i have been wanting to buy 'ker' and 'sangri' myself...i have TD's book too...but yet to find those spices here...


  2. try the panchmel dal recipe from that cookbook. it's awesome.

  3. Pardon my ignorance but I haven't heard of Ker or Sangri before... what are they?

  4. oh man, I feel so ignorant... I am off to look up ker and sangri now :( Picture of that dish looks like a meat dish though :)

  5. I have read the recipes in tarla's site and would lik to know how it tasted. You say its dust/dry ? sounds different but you never mentioned that you had enjoyed this recipe ;) Will you make it again?

  6. At the risk of sounding very very un-food-blogger-like, what are ker and sangri???

  7. Thank you for the support Sra, really appreciate!

    Variety in spice is great for taste buds...that picture looks so yummy!

  8. Can please let the desi names of ker and sangri. I never came across these names. BTW the recipe looks gr8.

  9. Never tried this before. Looks most interesting.
    I think I'm going to have to come over to Chennai soon to do some food shopping!:D

  10. Add me in the list too..Ker and sangri...having fade memories of these that are sour in taste> (if you taste raw)? inbtw theh dish looks gud..I still having feeling that I know ker and sangri !

  11. Rajitha, come here and get some :)
    Bee, yeah, that's on my list.
    Laavanya, they are desert veggies, dried and then rehydrated.
    Sig, I've updated the post to say they are dried veggies
    Ni, I should have clarified, I didn't dislike it. That was just an observation for which I didn't have a better description.
    Jayashree, they are Rajasthani stuff - dry veggies.
    Valli, glad to help.
    Kitchen Flavours, those ARE the desi names, I'm afraid :)
    Aparna, come over, come over soon - most of these shops are short-lived, in my experience.
    Priti, I didn't taste it raw, but I tasted it after it was just cooked, before adding the spices - it was tasteless.

  12. new recipe and new names for sure. But looks so delicious.

  13. Sra, you have such a way with words :-)

    Thanks a lot for your lovely entry...though I must admit that i haven't tasted those vegetables either.

  14. I've learnt something new... sangri

  15. both are new to me..pardon my ignornace :)

    are those the ready-made veggie chapathis???? :D

  16. Ker Sangri is an delicacy in Marwari homes.. I can imagine why you could taste only hing in your dish later :0
    Used correctly, hing adds a nice flavor but I do admit it takes a while to really enjoy the flavor.. I belong to Jaipur and have grown up with a lot of hing in our food.. So it even goes in my dal tadka and a coule of other veggies where I really enjoy the flavor..
    I love ker sangri and you have done a great job Sra..

  17. Sra,
    these are new to me, never heard Ker and sangri ..bUt the dish look so yum with rotis .
    hugs and smiles

  18. Sra, thats such a unique recipe..where did you find the sangri and the ker? i have been meaning to try out the sangri recipe from one of the rajasthani cookbooks that i have, but havent found it in any of hte stores in my city.

  19. Uma, thank you. I saw this when I visited Jaipur but at that time was in college and wasn't interested in cooking.
    Sunita, thanks. They're quite interesting.
    Cynthia, and ker is supposed to be capers, you know!
    Rachel, yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Swati, that's nice to know. I didn't realise the hing taste took time to develop - I use it only rarely.
    Jaya, really? Maybe you'll find it in a Marwari restaurant - I imagine Cal will have some
    Priyanka, it's not unique to Rajasthan :) I live in India, dunno where you can find it in the US.

  20. @ sra
    your sangri also look delicious...I made panchkuta that's why I used kumat else kair sangri recipe doesn't call for kumat.I missed Goonda in this recipe In rajasthan we also get the pickle of kair sangri and goonda.

  21. I know what kokum is and have a bag of it, but there are *three* kinds, Sra?!? Ker, sangri and different kokums. What else don't I know? ; }


I moderate all my comments. So if you're a human spammer or a bot that can understand this warning, buzz off, don't waste your time here spamming.