I was very fond of vendaikai/lady’s finger because I was told that I would excel in mathematics if I ate it. Liars! I used to ask my mother to prepare vendaikai pachadi because I liked the taste of it. My mother used to make vendaikai pachadi with tamarind and coconut. I discovered that if I cooked it with unripe mango instead of tamarind for the sour taste and left out the coconut from the recipe, I arrived at the most delicious salad (fried) of lady’s finger and mango.
May is the month when neighbours share the mangoes from their trees with their friends, and I received several varieties of mangoes. This Festive Unripe Mango Pachadi is very popular in my family. Though this also has jam-like consistency, it is called pachadi because it is tempered with mustard in ghee. We always serve it with Biriyanis, Pulavs, and Kuska Rice, or quite often with the humble sambar rice.
In Chennai all the mango trees are heavy with ripening mangoes, but we also get unripe mangoes in all the stores. This is the time to make a variety of mango pickles. I found this recipe in my notebook, but it does not belong to my family. I must have received it either from a friend or copied it from a tattered Tamil recipe book. I am unable to give credit to the author, but I salute him or her for such a delicious pickle where none of the flavours dominate.
It is traditional in Tamil Nadu to combine mango and fish in a curry. Mango and (especially) freshwater fish make a delicious curry combining the flavours of the season.
If you have mango trees in your home, you are familiar with the pain of having a huge crop of mangoes in summer that you don’t know what to do with. There is a limit to how many mangoes you can distribute to family, friends, neighbours, or anyone who accidentally drops in. This mango jam comes to the rescue as it keeps for a long time, and goes with a wide variety of dishes.
Summer is the season when the sight of unripe mangoes hanging on trees drives people crazy. Even the most well-behaved citizen will be tempted to throw a stone at the tree to bring the mangoes down. Unripe mangoes are plucked and brought to the market in large quantities. They are bought for the purpose of making pickles, preserves, and also to be used in curries. In my family, mango pickle prepared freshly (not soaked in salt for weeks together) is a great favourite. Those days, when we did not have the refrigerator, my mother used to store these in ceramic jars. It used to keep only for about 3 days, but even before that we used to wipe the jar clean. Now of course I store it in the refrigerator.