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  • Writer's pictureSavitha Enner

Ambali, for a humble morning

Ambali is a very humble dish. Does not get the same applaud as other breakfast dishes from India but this is what my ancestors and my husbands ancestors ate before rice made its way from China to Indian subcontinent. Some kind of a millet would be hulled and hand ground to flour which then become a porridge for morning breakfast. I did not eat Ambali as an everyday breakfast growing up, as my father had a job which meant he made enough money for us to buy rice and wheat. But when we went to our grandparents home for summer, my grandfather would trick us into a bowl full of this porridge with warm cows milk or cold buttermilk straight out of a churning pot . My grandfather would explain to us how this is superior to the Bournvita ( kind of Nesquick or Ovaltine) we city kids drank and we would be stronger and taller for all the Mango trees we had to climb that summer. Ambali would be poured into large bowls where my grandmother would sneak in some clotted cream for her favorite grandkids as she poured warm milk which would be sitting all morning on a low burning wooden stove. Oh! we would even have a competition about whose slurp would be louder.

My husband and I switch to warm oats and Ragi Amabli for breakfast as autumn rolls into winter here in the US. Our morning green smoothie is too cold for my body as I walk into my kitchen with layers and layers of clothing. My husband prefers it with a small dose of thick buttermilk, I like mine with warm milk. If I am in mood for something sweet then I add some jaggery or maple syrup with some coconut flakes and poppy seeds. This becomes a treat of sorts if I had it with stewed frozen berries . As we drink this dark thick porridge, we almost always share some stories of our childhood summer vacations.. If my kids walk in right at the moment, he will lecture them about the health benefits of Ragi as they eat their chosen breakfast of eggs and fruits. I smile and think of my grandfather who would always bribe us with candies if we finished our bowl of Ambali.

Ambali Recipe ( if we can call it), treat them like oats or corm meal

1/4 cup of Ragi flour

1Tbspn yogurt + 1/2 cup of water

2 cups of water.

Pinch of salt or a generous drizzle of Maple Syrup

Take cups of water in a sauce pan and bring it boil.

As the water begins to heat up, in a separate bowl add 1/2 cup of water, ragi flour and yogurt and whisk until there are no lumps. It should be smooth and pourable consistency .

As the water begins to boil, pour this ragi paste and keep stirring until it thickens. Add a pinch of salt to season the dish. Let it simmer for another 10 minutes on a medium low flame. Turn off the flame and scoop into bowls.

Serve with some buttermilk, warm dairy or non dairy milk,

Or maple syrup and chopped

or Chopped banana / berries.

Link to buy this flour on amazon ( which is ridiculously priced , local Indian store will have it for a few dollar)




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