The Indian region of Konkan in the west has a rich tradition of coconut based dishes similar to many other coastal regions. This is a supremely easy and extremely satisfying recipe :sour from the tamarind, creamy from the cocounut milk, sweet from the jaggery and savory from the phodni; the flavors are complex and delicious. Recipe credit to Sharmila, my cousin who sent me the recipe on whatsapp. My grandmother (also from Konkan) loved pohe with dahi, doodh, sakhar ani meeth (yogurt, milk, sugar and salt). Coconut milk was a treat because it had to be manually extracted. This recipe reminded me of her.
Poha is flattened beaten rice (easily available in the Indian store and on amazon). I used thick red poha for this recipe. Other essentials for this recipe are tamarind pulp (I boil tamarind with water and strain it to make my own pulp which I then freeze but there are plenty of pulps available commercially) and cumin seeds, asafetida and curry leaves (Indian store).
In a colander, rinse 2 cups of thick poha till soaked through and drain. The poha will soak through while you prep the rest of the dish.
Make the Kol- the coconut milk mixture: To one 14 oz can of light coconut milk, add 2 tbsp of jaggery (or brown sugar), 1 tsp or so of salt, 2-3 tbsp of finely chopped cilantro and 2 tbsp of so of tamarind pulp. Tamarind pulp varies in it’s sourness. Taste the kol, would it you it to be saltier, more sour, sweeter- adjust the flavorings till the coconut milk is delicious.
Make the tadka/phodni: To 2 tbsp of ghee or butter, add 1 tsp of jeera, wait for it to sputter, then add 1 pinch asafetida, 3-4 torn curry leaves and 2-3 dried red chillies.
Mix all 3 together and serve with fried papad or potato chips or not. Village food made easy using modern technology.