My son’s colleague, Akshaya, hails from Mannargudi (a small town 310 kms south of Chennai). She gave us maavattral (dried mango) prepared by her mother and told me that they make a kuzhambu (curry) with it. I asked her for the recipe and found it to be quite similar to the Vendhaya Kuzhambu I prepare, with the addition of dried mango. I was taken aback a little to hear that they don’t add ground coconut to the curry, as that would be an essential ingredient in Thirunelveli cooking. I have prepared this as given by her, but still believe that it could be improved with the addition of a little coconut 🙂 I served it with plain rice accompanied by fried appalams and koozhvattral (dried rice batter vattral) which makes for a delicious meal 🙂
With unripe mangoes flooding the food stores, one has to find ways in which this can be used (most of them are not suitable for ripening). I recall reading about the combination of mango and prawns almost half a century ago. I don’t remember the type of masala used in that preparation. I have used a combination of vindaloo-type masala with unripe mango to give sourness to the preparation. I have also used sugar to give it a subtle Goan flavour, but this dish is not a proper west coast preparation. It’s very much a Kala’s Kitchen concoction 🙂
Chennai summer – which begins in March 🙂 – is still roasting us, but that also means that mangoes are available in plenty. This year also I received mangoes from my neighbours. I was looking for new recipes as I had exhausted my family recipes. I found this interesting recipe for mango chutney in the 1,000 Indian Recipe Cookbook. I was fascinated by the use of onion seeds (kalonji in Hindi) – we don’t use these in Tamil Nadu. When I first tried out this recipe, I found that the flavour of cumin and onion seeds dominated the chutney so much that we could eat it only with curd rice. I have reduced the amounts by half to one-eighth to suit our palate. Though the chutney is spicy, the amount of sugar used masks the strong spicy flavour. This chutney is ideally suited as an accompaniment to Chicken Biriyani, Tomato Biriyani, and Turkey Biriyani.
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.