Gangalam is a huge metal vessel normally used for cooking food and storage of water. Pulusu is an Andhra special food item prepared with Tamarind juice and vegetables cooked together with spices and seasoned to get the special flavour. This dish is a semi liquid item with vegetables and is eaten mixed with hot rice. The picture shown here is a Gangalam made exclusively for cooking Pulusu and hence is known as Pulusu Gangalam. This elegant looking Pulusu gangalam is hand crafted with brass metal.
The exquisitely shaped Gangalam is also known as Pulusu Kalayi. Kalayi is a tin coating given inside of a brass vessel so as to avoid contact between Tamarind juice and the brass metal to prevent any chemical reaction of Tamarind juice on brass metal. Since the brass Gangalam that is exclusively used for cooking Pulusu must invariably be coated with Kalayi, this vessel is also called as Pulusu Kalayi.
How to cook with Antique Brass Pulusu Gangalam
Pulusu Gangalam is used for preparing Pulusu to serve large scale feeding like in marriages, religious ceremonies, temple feasts, and social gatherings. Since the brass is large in size and heavy, it is placed on a large sized improvised stove on the ground called Gaadi Poyyi with firewood as a source of fuel for fire. Poyyi is a small fire place where small vessels are used for cooking on the firewood flame. Gaadi poyyi is a large scale Poyyi improvised by digging a Gaadi (pit) in the ground. Firewood is burnt in the pit and Pulusu Gangalam is kept on the pit. This pit is normally narrow and long so that two or three vessels can be kept on the fire pit for simultaneous cooking.
The story about the Antique Brass Pulusu Gangalam
I have collected three Pulusu Gangalams from a village named Teki. Two Gangalams were collected from a temple near the village tank and one Gangalam from a family known to my friend Visweswara Rao. It is actually from my friend Visweswara Rao, who is a resident of Teki village, that I came to know that the temple is selling the Pulusu Kalayilu. The temple had its own collection of the entire range of brass cooking vessels for cooking large scale food to feed the villagers during the temple festivals and other important ceremonies of the temple. I was told that the temple was unable to maintain the old brass vessels and hence would sell them and buy new Stainless Steel vessels in their place that are easy to maintain. I am lucky enough to acquire two identical Pulusu Gangalamulu (plural of Gangalam) so strikingly beautiful with stunning shape.
These identical twin Gangalamulu are the pride of my collection, particularly for the reason that they are from a pious temple. These Gangalamulu have inscription on them in Telugu language saying “Shree Cheruvu Vadda Gudivi” meaning “belonging to the pious temple near the tank”.
The Design and Shape of the Pulusu Gangalam
The design of the Pulusu gangalam is both aesthetic and functional. It has a broad bottom base to absorb more heat to cook the Pulusu quickly and an upward tapering shape with narrow mouth to preserve the heat and to prevent the spillage. The entire tapering shape is achieved by constant hammering of the brass metal sheet.
There are two handles in the shape of a ring to handle and carry the huge Gangalam. When the Gangalam is full with hot Pulusu, it requires two men to carry it. It can be carried by each person holding one ringed handle or by inserting a pole across the rings and carrying the cradled Gangalam by keeping the ends of the pole on the shoulders.
Brass Ring Support for Pulusu Gangalam
Normally, the brass Gangalam is kept on a metal ring to have a complete support on the ground. Since the bottom of the Gangalam is curvy, there is a good chance that it may tilt or wobble when there is Pulusu in the Gangalam. To keep up the balance and make it stable, it is kept on a metal ring known as Chutta Kuduru. For serving the Pulusu, it is drained into small serving pots (there is an article on “Antique Brass Serving Pots” (can hyperlink the article to the coloured words) written by me) and served to the individual guests. A wooden or iron ladle is used to transfer hot Pulusu from Gangalam to the serving pots.
Know more about Pulusu
Mukkala Pulusu also known as Dappalam is a speciality dish of Andhra Pradesh, India. This dish is something like Stew or Broth of Western World or Sambar of Tamil Nadu of India. Pulusu means any kind of stew and the key ingredient for Pulusu is Tamarind juice. If Pulusu is made with vegetables, it is called Mukkala Pulusu. If it is made with Pappu (pulses) it is called Pappu Pulusu and if it is made with Thotakura leaves (Amaranth leaves) it is called Thotakura Pulusu, if it is made with Majjiga (butter milk) it is called Majjiga Pulusu. In Majjiga Pulusu, Tamarind juice is not added. Instead, sour butter milk is used to get the tangy taste of Tamarind juice.
Mukkala Pulusu is prepared by boiling a variety of vegetables like Yellow Pumpkin, Bottle Gourd, Drumsticks and Sweet Potato in Tamarind water added with Jaggery, Besan powder and seasoned with Fenugreek seeds, Cumin seeds, Mustard seeds, Asafoetida, Turmeric powder, Salt and Red Chillies. Mukkala Pulusu is both spicy and sweet in taste and is eaten mixed with hot rice and accompanied by Mudda Pappu, ghee and Vadiyalu.