Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bellam Avakai / Sweet Mango Pickle- Andhra Food Series

When I first started this series, I never ever thought I would know enough to continue it for so long. But it seems that I do and I am mighty pleased. I was not planning to only concentrate on this series but also have a more wide variety on my blog but I think I shall let it take its own course. I guess that is the best way.

When I was a kid, I remember eating out at one of my mom's friends houses. She served this most amazing sweet mango pickle with my curd rice. I think I have never forgotten the taste of that. Though not too much of a pickle person, I was used to eating Avakai ( recipe here ) but always with the mango piece washed to take off the spicy masala. This pickle did not need any of that. It tasted good, masala and all...

And not coming from a family that made pickles regularly, I never had a chance to taste it again.

Now couple of summers ago, I suddenly got a craving for the sweet mango pickle. Luckily for me the urge struck during the mango season when I could indulge myself. Found a recipe and immediately got around to making it. It came out very well. I now only make a small quantity as I am the only fan of this pickle at home.

So here's the recipe... Maybe a little late for this years mango season but nevertheless can still be made...This pickle should easily last a year or more ( if you haven't finished it by then....)


Raw sour mango cut into pieces - 1 kg
250 grams salt
125 grams chilli powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
600 grams grated jaggery
250 ml til oil/sesame oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon methi (fenugreek seeds)

Mix salt chilli powder, turmeric and jaggery in a clean DRY vessel.
Heat the oil and fry the mustard and fenugreek seeds for the seasoning.
Cool and pour over the mixed powders
Mix in the mango pieces and mix really well till all the mango pieces are coated well with the powder/oil mixture.
Store the pickle in an airtight jar.
Always use a dry spoon to take out the pickle.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Nuvvula Podi, Ellu Podi - Andhra Food Series

Andhra food is replete with different kinds of powders or podis. I have not seen this variety of podis in any other cuisine of India. It is eaten as the first course mixed with hot, fresh off the stove steamed rice and a dollop of home made ghee. First course mainly because the plate is still dry and one has not yet added any wet, gravy like item yet. This helps in keeping the podi-rice combination from getting soggy.
Podi is almost an instant food. Combined with rice, it is an instant meal. It is made with various dals found in most Indian pantries and flavored with red chillies and asafoetida. Different proportions of dals, chillis etc can be roasted, mixed and ground to make various podis. There are as many permutations and combinations of dals, chillis and other condiments as there are cooks. Each one will have their own personal favorites always in stock ready.

The variety of podis served up in Andhra is simply mind boggling. You have Idli podi (mixed dals), kandi podi (just toor dal), pesara podi (moong dal), karvepaku podi ( podi made with dried curry leaves, kothmir podi ( coriander leaves)... the list goes on.

My sister simply loves all podis and nuvvula podi or sesame seed powder in particular is her favorite. I thought I would learn this just to make some for her. Like I said, there are as many variations of podis as there are cooks. So this particular recipe is from my mom's repertoire. It is simple and has very few ingredients. Just the 4 main ones...

COMPARISON OF COLOURS OF ROASTED VS UNROASTED SEEDS (just to make absolutely clear, left side of the image below is roasted and the right side is raw).


200 grams sesame seeds
6-8 red chillies
1/2 teaspoon powdered asafoetida
salt to taste
1 tablespoon oil ( preferably sesame oil)


Roast sesame seeds till golden brown and fully roasted. See picture above for a comparison of colours of unroasted/raw vs roasted sesame seeds. Keep stirring while roasting to avoid it getting overburnt.

Take off the flame and leave it to cool.

Heat oil in the same pan and add the red chillies. Fry till they darken without getting burnt. Take off the flame and leave to cool.

Grind the sesame seeds, red chillies, asafoetida and salt till well blended.

CAUTION: Do not over grind as the sesame seeds will let out oil and the whole mixture will get lumpy instead of having a nice powdery consistency. Just one pulse (or whirr as I like to call it) of the machine should do it.

Serve with hot rice and ghee poured generously over.