Sometimes, you just need comfort food.  And you eat it in whatever unorthodox way you do, because you simply like it that way. I like kiri hodi and rice.  Just that.  just warm and impossible to eat with your hands neatly, but delicious.  Kiri hodi (coconut milk gravy) is utterly simple, but it requires tender loving care.  My sole warning to you is to NOT LET THIS GET TO A BOIL.

Which of course I have done.  Especially now that I have a demanding 18 month old girl.   So I will tell you, if it does get to a boil – immediately take it off the heat, add some extra coconut milk and pray that it hasn’t separated for good.  But it probably did. And you’ve probably ruined it.  It may taste 90% of the way it should, but the damage is irreparable.

Now that the warning is said: here is are the ingredients and the method.  The biggest, time consuming, pain in the rump part of this is making the coconut milk.  Since this is a coconut milk gravy, with only coconut milk and flavorings, you want your milk to be rich, creamy, and fresh. No cans, no reconstituted powder, or freeze dried stuff.


milk from one coconut

2 tbps fenugreek seeds

10-12 curry leaves

2 inch stick of cinnamon

salt to taste

1-2 green chilis, split down the middle.

2 -3 tsp of turmeric.


Hack your coconut into pieces.  My mother is now using a new Martha Stewart approved method and isn’t just breaking the coconut apart and grating it directly, (as I do, total atthamma style), but she puts the whole thing on the open flame, ’til it gets roasty toasty, and then breaks it in half, and apparently, the inside just falls away from the shell easily.  I’ve not done it myself.  This picture below is what she did for me today (I was on toddler duty during that moment).

Then you blend in your blender it with hot hot hot water, and squeeze out the coconut milk from the gratings.  Be careful if water is too hot – let it cool before squeezing!  Voila you have now made coconut milk.  You may have to puree the gratings twice if you think they’ve still got some goodness in them (taste them – if sawdusty, you’ve gotten all the good stuff out. if it tastes like coconut, give it another whizz in the blender).   The amount of water to add is hard to estimate, but pour in enough to cover the pieces and give you good whizzing action.

If you put the milk in a tall container you’ll see the thick milk separate from the thin.  Use the whole mix of it – I do – or use the creamy part only to make it ridiculously sinful, but do not use the watery bit alone.

Set that aside.

In a pan that is big enough to hold all your coconut milk, add some fenugreek, curry leaves, cinnamon, salt, turmeric, a sliced shallot, and one or two green chilis.  rather than sautee that in oil (which will then rise to the top of the kiri hodi), just sautee it in a 1/4 cup of water – just so the onion softens.  Then you add the coconut milk to it and gently, slowly, WITH TENDER LOVING CARE bring it to a simmer.  STIR CONSTANTLY.  And then taste to see if its salted to your liking.  And then add a squeeze of a quarter or half a lime, to your preference. After adding the lime, make sure to keep stirring constantly.  Or else it will curdle.  And that is ALL.

Typically served with stringhoppers, this is aromatic, subtle, and delicious.  You can add some boiled potatoes to it and it becomes alla hodi.  You can add boiled eggs to it and it becomes bithara hodi.  I love the floating spheres of turmeric tinted eggs in a comforting yellow sea, and ladling it on my stack of stringhoppers.

But today, I’m having it on rice.  With some pol sambol. 🙂