Andhra food is very spicy, hot, pungent and aromatic. It is well known that Andhras take the hottest food in India. Within Andhra each region has its own flavours. The most distinct factor in Andhra food is its Talimpu technique of seasoning the dishes which gives spicy flavour to the dish. Talimpu is also called as Popu. My mother used to create wonderful spicy flavours with the Talimpu technique by selectively chosen spices for frying. She has a special iron Garite with long handle (ladle) in which she is to fry the spices for Talimpu by keeping the Garite in the fire wood flame and dipping the hot Garite in the main dish to flavour the main dish. I am going to tell you the story of this antique Popula Gatite and the mystery of creating tongue tickling spicy hot food with Talimpu art of cooking.
The Talimpu Garite or Popula Garite is made out of iron. We also used to call it Inapa Garite, meaning lron laddle. This Garite is exclusively designed and made only for Talimpu particularly for liquid dishes like Rasam and Pulusu. I know that my mother was using this Garite since 1950 .She told us that the Garite was there in the house before she took charge of the kitchen implying that the Garite has been used by her earlier generations. It will be easily over 100 years old.
What is Talimpu ?
Talimpu is a cooking technique in which whole spices seeds and other spicy items are fried in ghee or oil to liberate essential elements from the spices and thereby enhances their flavours .The fried spices are poured over the prepared main dish along with the ghee or oil. Other ingredients like ginger ,onions, green chillies and garlic are the add on items as per the taste preference. This kind of coking is used mainly in India and mostly in South India. The most distinct quality of Andhra food is its Talimpu also called as Popu. Talimpu is called Chaunk or Tarka or Tadka or Bagar in Hindi, Thaalithal in Tamil,Vaghaar in Gujarati,Phoron in Bengali,Fodni in Marathi,Oggarane in Kannada , Baghara in Oriya and Baghaar in Urdu.
There are two ways of Talimpu preparation. One way is to first prepare the Talimpu in a frying pan and then add the main dish to it cook the dish for some time along with the Talimpu.The second way is to cook the main dish first then add Talimpu to it just before serving the dish. Talimpu gariti is used for the second method of seasoning the main dish.
Items requied for Talimpu
Dry red chillies (yendu mirapa kayalu )
Cumin seeds ( jeela karra )
Mustard seeds (Aavalu )
Chana dal (sanaga pappu )
Urad dal (minapa pappu)
Oil or ghee for frying (nooni or Neyya)
Curry leaves ( Karivepaku )
Coriander leaves (kothimeeri)
Turmeric powder (pasupu podi )
fenugreek seeds (menthlu )
asafetida (Inguva )
Salt (uppu )
Zinger (Allam )
Garlic (velli ulli payalu )
Green chillie (pachhi mirapakayalu)
Onions (ulli payalu )
Talimpu-my nostalgic journey
My mother used to create wonderful flavours with this Talimpu garite. She would hold the tail of the Garite and put the cup part in the fire. When it is hot she used to pour ghee in the cup and wait till the ghee is hot. Then she used to pour aavalu (mustard seeds ) first and wait till they crackle and then add other ingredients of the Talimpu one by one according to the order of their frying time .The main secret of the taste and flavour of the Talimpu is to know the order in which the Talimpu ginjalu are to be added to the oil for roasting so that each seed is perfectly roasted to get the best flavour .She would then stir them dexterously by jerking the handle of the ladle with brisk wrist movement so that the ingredients in the cup were moved up and down so that nothing is over fried .Her remote stirring is so perfect that not even a single seed would fall into the fire. When the entire Popu is done with she will take out the cup from the fire and dip the entire cup of the Garite along with the Popu contents into pulusu or rasam .The immersion of the hot iron cup create big sizzling sound along with the crackling in the liquid and the surrounding areas were spread with hot spicy air. The spicy flavours in the air used to tickle our senses such as tears in the eyes, light cough from the lungs, saliva in the mouth, and sneezing or water drops from the nose. Such was the spectacular effect of my mother’s Popu on our senses. It creates the right stimulant for getting ready for the lunch or dinner.
The popu varies according to the item. This Gariti is used mainly for the liquid dishes so that the cup along with the Popu can be dipped in the liquid for a better effect of the taste. Further the hot iron addle when dipped in the liquid item will get some iron nutrients which is good for the health. The spices in the Talimpu help in digesting the food. The same goodness you will not get with a stainless steel ladle though it looks trendy to use.
My mother used to use the Inapa garite very effectively for preparing popu particularly for liquid dishes like Rasam and pulusu. Pulusu is a very special dish in Andhra meal which is not found in the rest of Indian culinary items. It is Talimpu that gives the Andhra food the very special pungent punch. To know more about Andhra food, Pulusu, and Popu please follow the link http://ykantiques.com/2012/07/antique-brass-serving-pots.html written by the same author .
If we need large quantities of Talimpu for items such as chutneys, pulihara or other varieties of rice dishes , my mother used to use mookudu (large frying pan ) for preparing the Talimpu.
Dal fry or Dal Bagar is a special dish of North India where Talimpu is added to the cooked dal.If the Bagar is first prepared and dal is added to that and cooked again it is called Dal fry.If the Dal is cooked and then Bagar is garnished on that then it is called Dal Bagar.