Literally meaning “a curry made with tamarind”, there are many variations of this dish. In our house it was always a favorite and chinnamanni’s (my nani) version was a famous part of family folk lore. My mother must have learnt from her and I set out to make it for lunch under her supervision.
This effort was with ripe mangoes, as I knew she was particularly fond of “mango pulinkari”. However, we had quiet an argument over this. I had a couple of dasseris in the fridge and when I suggested that I use these, she was appalled. Her argument “This is good mango, for eating. How can you waste it in cooking?” Mine “We are the only ones here eating the mangoes and we will be eating it raw or cooked – so how does it matter?” Her logic arose from the days of old, when grafts (dasseri, langda etc) were considered expensive and for eating as fruit, and many local cheap varieties were available for other uses. Today, shopping in Gurgaon, we do not have the luxury of a local market or local produce! So we had to do with the dasseris….
I cut the dasseris and put them in a pan with some water and haldi and set it to boil on a low flame. In a bowl, I soaked a lemon sized ball of imli (tamarind) in some warm water.Then I dry roasted a teaspoon of methi, 2 teaspoons of urd dal, 3 medium sized red chillis, 1 teaspoon of rice and some curry leaves. The roasted mix got ground to a fine paste with about 4 tablespoons of grated fresh coconut. I squeezed out the imli into the cooked mangoes, let it cook for 5 more minutes and then added the ground paste and salt with enough water to make a semi-thin curry.
I let this simmer for a few more minutes and the pulinkari was ready. And we enjoyed this amazing mixture of Khatta and meeta with a mango flavor with hot rice at lunch. Mixed flavors like this are typical of puttar cooking, although we also see it in other parts of the country. Like the mixtures tastes in a good lucknowi chhat!! Of course, many people do find it hard to deal with. For me, this is part of my childhood and visits to family with a unique variation f the dish in each house.
I only seem to cook it when Amma is around – I should try and induct more people into trying it so that i can cook it more frequently!