Inji Curry (Ginger curry) is an important side-dish in Kerala sadhya. It has a hot, sour and sweet taste. Although just a side-dish, it has a very important place among the side-dishes in a sadhya. It is also available in its traditional taste at Vazhiyorakkada, the traditional Kerala Restaurant at Kilimanoor. This is because its main ingredient, ginger, has many medicinal properties and is most commonly known for its effectiveness as a digestive aid.
Ginger has a pungent taste that many of us dislike and the addition of green chilies, tamarind and jaggery in addition to ginger gives it a hot, sour and bit of a sweet taste making it tasty to eat with rice. It is also said that this curry was added in sadhya to make aid digestion after a heavy sadhya. This curry goes well with idli/dosa too. There is a telling in Kerala that having inji curry is equal to having 101 different types of curries because of the number flavors and taste included in this one single recipe.
So let us see the ingredients needed to make the inji curry (Makes about 2 cups):
- Inji/Ginger – 350 gm thinly slices or finely chopped
- Shallots – 8 finely chopped
- Green chilies – 4 or 5 finely chopped
- Chilly powder – 3 to 4 tsp (as per spice tolerance)
- Fenugreek powder/uluva podi – 1/2 tsp
- Kayam/Hing/Asafoetida – small pinch (Optional)
- Tamarind/puli – Small gooseberry-sized or as per taste
- Jaggery – 2 tbsp
- Curry leaves – 3 sprigs
- Mustard Seeds – 1/2 tsp
- Dried red chillies – 2 Nos
- Coconut oil – 1/2 cup ( as required for fring ginger)
- Salt – To taste
- Fry the ginger pieces in oil (preferably coconut oil) until it turns brown and crispy. When it cools down, coarsely grind in a mixie.
- Soak the tamarind in warm water(around ½ cups) and extract its juice.
- Heat oil in a pan with deep bottom (use the leftover oil from frying ginger ) and splutter mustard seeds. Add dry red chilies, chopped shallots and saute until the shallots turn brown. Now add the green chilies, curry leaves and saute for a few more minutes.
- To it, add the strained tamarind extract and bring it to boil. Then add the chilly powder, fenugreek powder and kayam to it. After that add the ground ginger and jaggery, and mix well. Check if the salt is enough or not and bring the heat to low.
- Cook for another 10 to 15 minutes stirring occasionally and switch off. Adjust the gravy as per the consistency you like; thick, medium-thick or watery. Inji curry can also be stored in a refrigerator for at least 2 weeks without any problem.
- Instead of chopping, you could also grate ginger, squeeze out the juice, fry and coarsely grind it in a mixie. (This is good for those who dislike too much flavor of ginger.)
- Also add more green chilies, if you do not wish to add chilli powder.