Some of the best days of our lives are really when we were much younger in school with no cares or worries about life and its guile! It does not really matter about the quality of life, or whether we walked to school, took the bus, had a hard time growing up…Every one`s life at that point still seems so happy and carefree! The best part of my childhood was always summer months filled with buzz and activity at Madurai amma`s home. All my cousins would visit us and the home would be filled with at least fifteen members of the family. Everyday cooking itself would be 2 hour chore with all of us helping here and there. Summers would also be time for pickles. vadams and vathals. Time to bite in to juicy ripe Banganapalli mangoes and Dilpasand from Bangalore Iyengar Bakery in T.Nagar.
Madurai amma would always make Avakkai Pickle, Manga Thokku and Mahani Kizhangu. We all would pitch in and grate about 10 mangoes on to a large newspaper and trnasfer them to large plates for her to make the pickle. By afternoon the aroma of the pickle would be wafting throughout the home and that night everyone would volunteer to sample the pickle. As I make this every summer, I recount those beautiful days of my childhood and pass on the memories to my little ones…
2 Big Mangoes or 3 Medium Mangoes.
2 Tsp Red Chilli Powder.
1/8 Tsp Turmeric.
1/8 Tsp Hing.
2 Tsp Salt.
1/2 Tsp Fenugreek Seeds.
1 Tbsp Jaggery.
A pinch of tamarind.
1 Tsp Mustard Seeds.
Few sprigs of curry leaves.
Wash the mangoes and wipe them down with a clean kitchen towel. Peel out the skin and using a grater, grate all the mangoes until you reach the seed.
In a dry kadai roast about 4 tsp of fenugreek on a low flame until it emits an aroma. Switch off and when cool, grind to a fine powder. Store in an air tight container.
In a heavy bottomed kadai add 4-5 tbsp of oil and when its hot enough season with mustard seeds and curry leaves.
When the mustard seeds splutter, add the grated mangoes slowly in to the kadai.
Add turmeric powder, hing and red chilli powder and give it a quick saute.
After a couple minutes, add salt, a pinch of tamarind paste (optional if the mangoes are tart by themselves), fenugreek powder and the jaggery.
Keep stirring the kadai now and then and make sure it does not stick to the bottom.
In about 20 minutes you should see the oil seperating from the pickle.
Now its time to switch off the kadai and allow to cool.
Transfer to a glass pickle jar and store air tight in the refrigerator.
Mango Thokku can be used as a side for rotis, idli, curd rice and dosa.
Anybody who is a constant visitor to my blog, would know by now, my love for Corriander Leaves. I love it in any form and the aroma it exudes, is simply inexplicable. It instantly adds so much zing and character to any dish to which its added. Imagine rasam without corriander leaves, or Mushroom Mutter Masala without the green garnish. Imagine salsa and any mexican cooking without this herb. I always love the transformation to the dish, cause by the addition of corriander leaves. Iamgine a dish where this is the star ingredient??? This is an excellent compliment to curd rice, dosas and even Morkuzhambu and Molagootal.
1 Large Bunch of tender cilantro/corriander leaves. (2 bunches in India).
1/2 Cup Broken Urad Dhal.
6 Red Chillies.
2 Tsp Home Made Idli MolagaiPodi/Gunpowder.
Gooseberry Sized tamarind ball.
1 – 11/2 Tsp Salt.
A pinch of hing .
Take the large bunch of corriander leaves and wash them well in a collander. Allow them to air dry for about 2 hours.
Now remove the stems that are thick and fat. If they are thin, simply remove only the root part and set aside. Pat dry to remove any moisture.
Soak the tamarind in 2 spoons of water and warm in the microwave. Set aside.
In a small wok, add a spoon of gingely oil and add in the urad dhal and the red chillies.
Fry on medium flame, until its golden brown. Finally add the softened tamarind piece alone, without the water. When its sauteed well, set aside.
Take the medium container of your mixie jar and add the fried red chillies, urad dhal and tamarind at the very bottom.
To this add salt, asfoetida, and idli molagapodi and give it a quick pulse.
Now toss in the dried corriander leaves and give it a quick pulse.
Frequently you would have to use your spatula to ease out the portions that are stuck to the jar and will not grind.
Pulse on and off to get a coarse mixture. Add a couple drops of gingely oil instead of water, to aid in lubrication.
When done, check for salt and trnasfer to a clean dry bowl.
Using your hands, roughly shape them into balls and store in the fridge.
Kothamalli Podi is an excellent side for curd rice, and idlis.
The beauty of this corriander podi is that its an instant home made pickle/side for curd rice.
When you have sudden guests, take out a ball and grind with some coconut and water to get Corriander Chutney.
Add a little to home made thick curd and mix it in for aromatic pachadi!
Mangoes are all time love for me and my sisters. Summers are never fun or complete without having juicy ripe mangoes, and a book to read, lazing beneath the trees, on cool breezy summer afternoons. Summers have always brought back memories of mangoes, both ripe and raw – specially for making pickles and storing them in jars, for the entire year`s supply. I love making Mangaa Curry with raw mangoes that we get from the stores. Sometimes a nice snack, for movie time would be Yummy Mango Slices sprinkled with Niceness! When we got a bunch of granny smith apples, my first option was to make a pie. When the going gets tough, then I realise its time to shift gears and change plans so I decided to make a quick pickle with the tart apples. They have little sweetness in them and are very tart, so they make a perfect pickle to enjoy with Gujarathi Khichdi or Yoghurt Rice.
1 Fresh Granny Smith Apple.
1 tsp Salt.
1/8 Tsp of Hing.
1 Tsp Heaped Red Chilli Powder.
1/4 Tsp Turmeric.
Oil, Mustard seeds, curry leaves.
Remove the core from the apples and cut them in to fine pieces and transfer to a glass container.
Add salt, turmeric, hing and red chilli powder to the apple slices.
Heat a spoon of oil in a seasoning kadai.
Add mustard seeds and when it pops and little hing and curry leaves.
Drop this seasoning on to the spiced apple slices and mix well.
at the local Indian grocery store and almost shouted out in glee!!! Although they dont get anywhere close to the tight rounded fresh little beauties that we used to pick up at Ranganathan Street in T.nagar, Chennai, these little ones should still do.
Gonna wash them and soak them in spiced brine to make my stash of Maavadu this year!!!
Onion Thokku used to be my favorite side for chapattis as a student. Amma would always make Onion Thokku and she would pack delicious soft rotis for lunch, along with a side of this delectable thokku. On some days, it would be smeared on the rotis and made in to a roll. It has the most amazing flavor and aroma and is a favorite among my cousins during travel. I remember, when I was about twelve, we had gone to this trip to my cousin`s place in Delhi. The Grand Trunk Express would take it`s own sweet time to cover the 2000 odd kilometres. A standard breakfast that amma would pack would be idlis neatly parceled in green banana leaves smothered in gun powder and gingely oil. Lunch would always mostly be soft puris and this yummy Onion Thokku.
2 big Onion cut in to big pieces.
1/2 cup of Broken Urad Dhal.
6-7 Red Chillies.
2 Inch Tamarind soaked in 2 tbsp water.
Salt to taste.
In a kadai, add 2 spoons of oil, and when ready, add mustard and curry leaves and then the chopped onions. Add a little turmeric, saute well and set aside to cool.
In the same kadai, add a spoon of oil and fry the Urad dhal, red chillies and curry leaves. Set aside to cool a little.
Add the roasted spices to a mixer, add salt, tamarind and give it a pulse to allow the spices to powder coarsely.
Now add the sauteed onions also to the ground powder and pulse well to get a near smooth paste.
Use the kadai and a couple spoons of oil and add the ground onion paste and saute it well. The more this thokku is sauteed in oil, it stays and does not spoil. Allow for oil to leave the sides – This should take about 7-8 mins of stirring.
This not only compounds the flavor but also helps in preserving the thokku for a long time.
Serve with Chappathis, Puris, Curd Rice , Idlis or Dosa.
Gooseberries were an integral part of my childhood snacking ingredient. Everytime we went to Nalli or Kumaran in T.nagar for shopping, me and D would longingly look at the little roughly made wooden carts filled with gooseberries bursting with freshness and goodness. The vendors would parcel the gooseberries in triangular packages and throw in a little spice from red chilli powder and salt. The pure delight in eating those ripe bursting fresh gooseberries with the chilli powder mix is completely unexplainable. Madurai amma would make pickles in summer from the bigger variety. There is also a smaller more tart variety thats eaten plain with salt and chilli powder. Love the tartness and the combined sweetness of the gooseberry in my mouth.
Gooseberries are very very rich in Vitamin C and has many more health benefits. It helps assimilation of the body vitamins, flushes out unecessary toxins, promotes hair growth, is a natural body coolant and also is beleived to nourish the brain and our mental functioning. When I saw the packet of frozen Amla in the Indian store, I decided to give it a try to see if it was even worth the effort of pickling it. When I thawed it for some time and tried a small piece, I was astonished to find the same sweetness and tartness exploding in my mouth. The gooseberries are cleaned, washed and slightly cooked I presume. It was AWESOME. Although it was not as fresh as the ones that you can pick off a street vendor, I was happy that I could at least taste it after almost two years!!! Here is the recipe for the pickle. Best with anything….even parathas!!!
1 packet of frozen Amla from Indian store.( Fresh Amla around 20 numbers)
2 spoons of Iodised Powder Salt
5 red chillies
1/2 spoon of mustard
1/2 spoon of methi seeds.
3-4 spoons of Idhayam gingely Oil.
If using frozen amla you are already good to go. In case of fresh gooseberries, wash the amla fruits well and boil in water with a little salt for about ten minutes. The Amlas should be a little soft, but not squishy.
Throw out the water and allow to cool. When cool, you should be able to pry out the little portions along the lines. Put them in a little ceramic bowl.
Take a little kadai and roast in oil the following: Red Chillies, methi seeds and then finally the hing. Do not allow to burn, and roast carefully on a medium low flame with constant stirring. Powder this along with the raw mustard and set aside.
Sprinkle the mentioned salt on the gooseberries and then the powdered spices on top of the gooseberry pieces. .
Mix well and allow to stand for a few minutes.
Heat 3-4 spoons of Idhayam Gingely Oil and pour over the gooseberries.
Allow 2-3 days for the salt and spices to seep in.
Delicious gooseberry pickle is ready to eat. Can be used as a tasty side for parathas, curd rice, molagootals etc.
Baby Mangoes here in the U.S? No way, I could not believe my eyes. I looked again and sure enough I saw a little basket with baby mangoes all green and fresh waiting to be picked!!! It brought back wonderful memories of Madras, of summers, of Madurai amma and her home….Every summer, as soon as Maduraiamma hears from the local vegetable vendors, that the mangoes have hit the market, she would announce that it was indeed time that we went for the annual mango picking. We would then leave from home to Ranganathan Street, and return with a bag full of the choicest green baby mangoes. Then began the process of washing then and cleaning them induvidually and allowing them to air dry for some time. Then Madurai amma would prepare the spices that would go along with the brine and pickle the mangoes in huge ceramic pickle jars, and allow them to soak up the salt and the spices. After a few days, she would take out a small portion for us to try and leave it on the kitchen countertop. Whenever D and me used to walk by, we would pop a mango in to our mouths….The tastes of the salt, the chillies, the crunchiness of the mango would all explode in our mouths….The smell of the Maavadu itself would keep wafting from the kitchen now and then. Madurai amma would seal the huge ceramic “Jadis” and stove them away for the entire year. Whenever the little bottle would get empty, she would replenish from the jar for uninterrupted Maavadu supply throughout the year…
There is a definite difference from the KaduManga which is the much spicier version. Maavadu on the other hand is more mild and can be eaten just like that. Here my recipe tries to showcase the traditional Maavadu recipe modified with the powder salt and spices available here in the U.S.
25-28 Baby Mangoes.
7-8 red chillies.
1/4 cup of salt NOT filled to the brim.
A spoon of raw mustard.
A pinch of hing.
2-3 spoons of water.
Clean all the mangoes well under the tap and put them in a collander to drain for some time. Wipe them and allow the mangoes to air dry.
Grind the salt, mustard, hing and red chillies with a little water in to a coarse paste.
Arrange the mangoes in a glass/ceramic container.
Slowly scoop a spoon of the ground paste and pour it over the mangoes as shown.
Once all the paste is scooped on the mangoes, close the lid, give it a quick shake and allow to soak for 2-3 days.
Add a few spoons of water to the mixer container and add this also over the mangoes.
Twice everyday, mix all the mangoes so that the ones below come up and the baby mangoes on top go down.
The salt that is in the ground paste, brings out the water that’s inherently present in the mangoes.
Depending on where you live, the mangoes take their time to soak up the flavours and ready to be eaten.
In tropical countries, it would hardly take 2-3 days. For me , it took a good one week .
This could hardly be called a pickle….its a pickle in the sense of the term that the lemons are preserved in brine or pickling liquid. It`s one that I gew up having. Whenver I felt nauseous, or on one of those days when you want to have easy simple lip smacking stuff, this pickle would alwas accompany my curd rice. It`s very easy and has many versions. This is my favourite version of the same. It`s one where there are no actual fixed measurements – Madurai amma would always use her hands and her measurements always came out perfect.
5 fresh lemons.
4 spoons of salt.
4 spoons of sugar.
2 spoons of raw jeera.
Wash all the lemons and dry them with a soft tissue.
Slice all the lemons in to cross sectional circles. Keep the slices as slim as possible.
Place them in a porcelain or corelle bowl which has a wide mouth. Save all the juice from the lemons as well as from the ends of the lemon.
Add the 4 spoons of salt and sugar and the jeera.
Mix carefully so that the lemons do not break. Keep closed and allow 2-3 days for the salt and sugar to soak in.
Taste and you should feel the salt and the sweetness from the sugar exploding in your mouth. Adjust by adding more salt or sugar if you want.
Eat with curd rice or mix a little with diluted buttermilk and drink on those days when you have a tummy ache or an upset stomach!
Tomato Thokku is a form of pickle (read delicacy) that`s so often made in my home…but then one never gets enough of it. Its such a versatile side, you can have it with idli, dosa, upma,curd rice, parathas, bread, tortillas and virtually anything else you can think of. Whenever tomatoes are down to 99c a pound, or If I have a few getting ripe, tomato thokku it is…
Here it goes, for the benefit of the others…
15 Medium Sized Tomatoes.
2 Tsp Fenugreek
2 Tsp Salt
3 Tsp Red Chilli Powder
1/2 cup of Concentrated Tamarind Extract.
Pinch of Turmeric.
1 Tbsp of Jaggery.
Mustard seeds, Curry Leaves.
Wash the tomatoes, dry them by wiping them and chop them in to tiny pieces.
Dry roast the fenugreek/venthayam on a slow flame until you get the aroma. Its very important that its roasted on a medium low flame as this slow release of flavour adds to the taste. cool it and powder it well in the mixer.
Take a heavy bottomed pan and pour in 8-9 spoons of oil, add mustard and when it starts to splutter, add curry leaves and hing.
Quickly add the tomatoes, hing, salt, turmeric, red chilli powder and the tamarind extract.
Stir in the ground venthayam/fenugreek and jaggery also in to the pan.
Allow the tomatoes to cook and simmer on a medium-low flame with constant stirring so that it does not stick to the bottom.
Keep on stirring until the oil seperates from the “thokku”…this should approximately take about 40-45 minutes.
Switch off the stove and allow to cool for 2-3 hours and store in an airtight glass jar.
Enjoy with Rotis, Parathas, Idlis, Doasas, Venn Pongal or yummy curd rice.
All my childhood summers, were spent in my grandmother`s home in madras, where all our cousins would meet up and have such a blast.Of course, those were the days of no tv, no mega serials and no countdowns, but we would be allowed to read a lot of novels, play chess and scrabble, make believe” games, hide and seek and the like. Mangoes are an essential part of Madras summers in all their forms. We would be busy grating mangoes to help make “Mango Thokku” which is a pickled form of raw grated mangoes. Then we would get the small baby mangoes called “Vadu Manga” and madurai amma would soak them in salty brine and preserve them for us to eat all year long. This Manga Curry is a quick one to two day use of raw mangoes to go with “Curd Rice”.
Raw Mango – 1 chopped in to fine pieces.
Salt – 1 spoon
Turmeric – A pinch.
Chilli Powder – 1 spoon heaped.
Hing – A pinch.
Oil, Mustard,Hing,Curry Leaves.
Take the finely chopped mangoes preferably in a ceramic/glass container.
Add the turmeric,salt, red chilli powder and hing.
Keep a Tadka ladle on the stove, add 1 spoon of gingely oil.
When the oil is hot, add mustard, hing and curry leaves and pour it on the mangoes, when its spluttering.