Arrowroot powder is the starch component of the perennial tuber, marantha, found in tropical forests. Starch from these tubers is believed to be of a higher quality compared to potato starch or corn starch, as it has a neutral taste when used in cooking.
The tubers are harvested, washed, descaled and beaten to a pulp in village homes. Grandma used to tell us that it was a messy affair. The milky juice is strained to remove debris and the starch settles to the bottom. The water is removed and the starch allowed to dry in cakes. The fragile cakes crumble easily and are available as small chunks (see pic above).
Because of the dark skin (and other) debris, this is called kachra piTh or dirty flour, in Konkani. Whipped in hot water (or milk) it forms a light pudding called boL, easy to digest and one of the first semi-solid meals given to babies. During my last trip to Mumbai when I suffered from an upset stomach, Aiee babied me with honey sweetened boL for two days.
The jelly-like duddaLi is a common Konkani dessert made with kachra piTh, one of my favorites. We replenish our stocks of kachrae piTh from Kumta. M followed mom’s recipe. Simple ingredients and easy to make.
- kachrae piTh: arrowroot powder, 1 cup
- milk, 1 cup
- water, 1 and half cup
- paTal goad (sugarcane molasses) 1 cup; recipe called for jaggery, we used this molasses from Kumta, which has a more delicate taste. If you don’t have either, use appropriate amounts of sugar
- cardamom seeds, 25, crushed in a mortar
- tuup, clarified butter, 2 teaspoons
- Wash the powder: Mix one cup kachrae piTh with about 5-6 cups of water in a large bowl. Stir well and allow powder to settle for about an hour. You will notice black remnants of skin fragments along with other organic detritus, rise to the top; Discard water and re-wash if necessary.
- Transfer cleaned powder/paste to a cooking pot, mix with milk, water and molasses.
- Cook on low to medium heat, stirring constantly. Mix in crushed cardamom.
- Taste sweetness; adjust accordingly. The mix turns into a gelatinous liquid.
- Coat flat pans with clarified butter and pour pudding mix.
- Spread to about half inch deep – we ended up with more pudding resulting in a thicker duddaLi.
- Allow to cool and set.
- Cut and serve. Can be saved in refrigerator.
Some of my desserts:
- Shira – Cream of Wheat Pudding
- Berry Delicious Thick Yogurt
- Surnoli – Watermelon Pancakes
- Puran Poli
- Video:Making Puran Poli
- Crunchy Yogurt
- Almond Pista Milk
- Beet Red Juice
- Meera and Jalebis