Saturday, March 24, 2012

Banana & Lentil Dessert - Kellya Ambat

Yesterday was Ugadi or Yugadi .A festival usually celebrated in few regions of India as the beginning of a new Year or Yuga(year) aadi(beginning).Normally festivals means lots of food and food and food... This was also not so different. You take oil bath,do the pooja as per your traditions and rituals and sit down for a very traditional lunch.

Traditionally on Ugadi day, Konkanis serve a variety of food and one most prominent combo is that of Hittu/Khotte and Kellya Ambat. The former is a breakfast dish while the later is a dessert or rather the dessert of the day.One of my aunts actually love ugadi because she loves the combo. Hittu/khotte is made with jackfruit leaves and if you cannot find them or cannot make the baskets(called khollis) with the leaves (like me) then you settle for normal idlis. Well, I am not an idli person and did not have khotte/baskets ,but still yesterday I tried my hand at the dessert and here is my version.

Ingredients:
Ripe Firm Banana (preferably Kerala Nendran variety): 1.5 cup to 2 cups chopped 

ChickPea Lentils or Chana Dal: 1/2 cup cooked

Jaggery or Jaggery syrup: 4 + tbsp as per taste and sweetness of bananas

Coconut gratings: 1/2cup or 1-2 handfuls
Dried Red Chilly :1
Haldi/Turmeric Powder: 1/4 tsp

Seasoning: 
Oil/Ghee : 1tbsp
Mustard: 1/2 tsp
CurryLeaves: few fresh
Cumin Seeds: 1/4 tsp

Preparation:
Slice the peeled banana and chop each piece to get crescent shaped pieces. Cook chana dal in a pressure cooker or stove top till soft.Add the banana pieces to the dal and cook till tender,making sure they still hold the shape. 
Add jaggery grated or syrup and mix well and let it simmer for  few minutes. Meanwhile check for sweetness. If not as sweet as you want it ,add more jaggery or syrup.

Grind together coconut gratings,turmeric and red chilly to a fine paste and then add it to the simmering dessert. This gives it more colour and thickness and adds a kick to the sweetness. Continue simmering till the rawness of the coconut paste is gone and the flavours mingle well- all for a few more minutes.

Prepare the seasoning by heating oil in a kadai/pan. Add mustard and when it splutters add cumin and curryleaves. Allow it to splutter and add the seasoning to the dessert saving few seeds and leaves for garnishing.


A simple yet comforting and very festive dessert. It is also made during other festive occasions, but as I said the combo of Khotte/Idli with Ambat is supposed to be superb. There is even a prominent restaurant in Willingdon Island,Kochi that serves this combo on Ugadi day -ie apart from from regular Konkani hotels. You can get an idea about hittu from Ranji's post here.

I presume, the sweetness of bananas,with the spiciness of the red chilly and comfort of the lentils, indicate that it will be a mixed year and you should enjoy as you get it. 

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