Puran poli and katachi amti go hand in hand and quite rightly so, given the process of making the former. You could say that this amti is a by-product of the puran poli making process scoring well on its zero-waste credentials. But more than that, it’s the dish that completes the puran poli.
What is katachi amti?
It’s a spicy broth (for the lack of an exact translation) prepared from the leftover stock of the boiled chana dal used to make puran poli. ‘Kat’ in Marathi means the residual stock of dal or lentils and ‘amti’ refers to any soupy concoction that’s spicy and perhaps tangy. So ‘katachi amti’ is essentially a spicy soup cooked with leftover dal stock.
This runny lentil stock-based spicy dish is cooked in various ways, depending on the region of Maharashtra you’re in. Whereas in Pune, this dish is a tad tangy and sweet aside from being spicy, it’s predominantly spicy in the region where my ancestors lived. There’s no jaggery, nor is there any tamarind involved in the making of this traditional dish. My ancestors enjoyed the simplicity of flavours and hence the tanginess was all down to a humble lemon squeezed in just before serving. And as it’s traditionally paired with sweet puran poli, they felt it completely unnecessary to add jaggery. I have never seen it cooked any other way during soirées at my ancestral home.
Needless to say, my knockout katachi amti packs a real punch of spice. And if I’m honest, I love it this way more than any of the other myriad regional variations you’ll find in Maharashtra.
Kala masala or goda masala?
Oh the dilemma or conundrum (if I may call it so) of whether to use goda masala or kala masala and whether they’re two names for the same spice mix, is a post in its own right. Not wishing to go down a rabbit hole today, I’ll leave that debate for another time. Suffice to say that I only ever add my homemade kala masala spice-mix to this recipe and have only ever seen the matriarchs cook their amti using this family spice blend. But, there’s no hard and fast rule here.
Serving and storage
Puran poli and katachi amti go together like bread and butter. One without the other is just sacrilege, especially on festive occasions. It’s like hosting a party with yourself. Puran poli needs its best friend amti to get the party started.
I love soaking some flakey puran stuffed sweet polis in a bowl of spicy amti for my first helping. And when the puran poli has all gone from my ‘taat’ (read plate), I happily drop a spoonful of rice into the amti to soak up the remaining. This makes a perfect second course for me and shall I say another traditional way to enjoy amti?
With or without puran poli, always serve amti warm and with a wedge of lime. It’ll keep well in the fridge for a good 3-4 days. But if you want to make it well ahead of time, it freezes well too. Do so as soon as you’ve cooked it. Decant into a biodegradable freezer bag (ideally), label it and stash away in the freezer. When needed, leave it out at room temperature for a couple of hours to thaw naturally. Then reheat thoroughly and eat immediately. Do not refreeze the surplus. Eat within 3 months of freezing.
Katachi Amti / कटाची आमटीCourse: MainCuisine: Maharashtrian, IndianDifficulty: Medium
This spicy broth made from boiled chana dal stock is the classic accompaniment for puran poli.
1 tbsp boiled mushy chana dal (optional)
500ml hot water
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
7-8 fresh or dried curry leaves
¼ tsp asafoetida
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp kala masala or goda masala
½ tsp red chilli powder
70g sunflower oil
1¼ tsp sea salt or to taste
- For the masala or vatan
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion (sliced)
⅓ dry coconut (broken into pieces)
8 garlic cloves
½ inch ginger
20g fresh coriander (stalks and leaves roughly chopped)
15g dried coconut (grated)
8-10 tsp cloves
1 tsp peppercorns
- Heat a tbsp of oil in a pan and shallow fry the onion over a medium flame until golden brown. Then transfer to a bowl or plate. Next, roast 6 of the 8 garlic cloves and ginger together without additional oil until light brown and transfer to the plate. Repeat for the coconut pieces, cloves and peppercorns. Allow all the fried/roasted ingredients to cool.
- Once cooled, grind the ingredients roasted in step 1 into a fine paste along with fresh coriander. Add a tablespoon of water to help with grinding, if needed.
- In a pestle and mortar, make a paste of the dry grated coconut and remaining garlic.
- Heat the oil in a deep heavy-bottomed pan over a medium flame, crackle the mustard and cumin seeds first. Turn the heat down to medium-low and throw in the curry leaves. Add the asafoetida and immediately tip in the coconut and garlic paste from step 3.
- Follow with the ground masala of roasted onion, coconut and spices from step 2.
- Now add the turmeric, red chilli powder and kala masala and let the whole masala sizzle for 30-40 seconds.
- Turn the heat up to medium, tip in the cooked chana dal stock and mix everything well.
- Pour in the hot water and stir. Bring to a rolling boil. Then gently simmer covered on low for 5-7 minutes.
- If the amti is too runny for you, optionally, add the mushy chana dal.
- Season with salt and stir. Take it off the heat and allow to cool, part covered. Serve warm with a gentle squeeze of lime along with puran poli and steamed rice.
- Follow step 9 only if your amti has turned out watery runny. Amti is more of a soupy broth than a curry. So it’s meant to be on the runnier side. But if you want to give it a bit of body, then a spoonful of the chana dal mush does the job. Needless to say, step 9 is optional.
- If you don’t have kala masala, use goda masala. It is available ready-made or you can make it with this recipe.
- If you can’t find dried coconut, use fresh though the taste may differ slightly.
- Beware of flying peppercorns as you roast them. They pop and can literally fly out of the pan and scald your delicate skin. So keep a safe distance from the frying pan to avoid low-flying spices.
- Step 3 is simply my personal twist. I like the subtle raw taste of coconut and garlic in this amti. You’re welcome to skip this step; your amti will be equally delicious.