Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Pickles, Vegan

Instant Amla/Gooseberry Pickle (Kerala Style)

I have been experiencing hair fall recently despite no apparent diet/lifestyle change. Wondering how to tackle this, I have decided to try including gooseberry/amla in my daily diet. Amlas are considered to be excellent for health and are packed with vitamins. I am not a fan of raw gooseberries but love them in murabbas (candied sweet preserve) or pickle. This pickle version uses very little oil and can be consumed immediately although the taste and flavors tend to be better after a couple of days.



Gooseberry/Amla – 10
Red chili powder – 1 tbsp
Asafoetida/Hing powder/piece – 1/4 tsp or 1 small piece (size of half a marble)
Fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp
Sesame/til oil – 1 + 1 tsps
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves – 3-4 leaves

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Makes – 1-1/2 cups

Heat a thick iron wok and dry roast fenugreek seeds until they change color and you get the aroma of roasted fenugreek seeds. If you are using whole asafetida, roast that along with the fenugreek seeds as well. Powder the fenugreek seeds and asafetida piece using a mortar and pestle (or mixer). Set aside.
Wash the gooseberry and pat dry.
Heat a thick iron wok and add 1 tsp of sesame oil. Add the gooseberry to the oil. Stir occasionally and cook in medium heat until the white gooseberries turn soft and tender (approximately 15 minutes).

Remove gooseberry from the kadai. The oil used to cook the gooseberry remains in the kadai. You can use this again for the tadka. When it cools, cut the gooseberry into smaller pieces and add salt. Mix well and keep aside.

Add one tsp sesame oil into the same iron wok that was used to cook the gooseberry. Heat the wok and add mustard seeds to the oil. Let it splutter.
After mustard seeds splutters, add the curry leaves, red chili powder, powdered roasted asafoetida and fenugreek, salt as required and mix well.
Switch off and allow it to cool.

Transfer to a dry ceramic jar (bharani) or glass jar. Steel and plastic containers are not recommended since pickle is acidic in nature. Refrigerate and use within 1-2 weeks. Remove in small batches for daily use. Always use a dry spoon to serve the pickle.

Notes: You could use whole asafetida pieces for this recipe, but this would take a while to melt and blend in with the amla pieces. Although whole asafetida is more flavorful and aromatic than the powder, for an instant pickle asafetida powder is recommended.
The spice level in this pickle is moderate. You can add more red chili powder and oil as per taste.

Breakfast, Chutneys/Thogayals/Dips/Podis, Dosas, Everyday Simple Recipes, Pickles, South Indian, Tiffin

Milaga Podi (Dry Chutney Powder)

There are two items that you will definitely find in every South Indian household – curd and milaga podi (dry chutney powder or gun powder as non-Southies call it). Podi is potent gun powder that can make any food item tasty! It is a must-have in every household as it has a good shelf life and can accompany most food items such as dosa, idli, and even rice. Lazy to grate coconut and grind a chutney? All you need to do is take few spoons of podi, mix some oil in it and serve along with the dosa or idli. You wont even miss the juicy coconut chutney! Podi is also a safe bet when you are packing food for long bus/train journeys.

dosa and idli served with podi and chutney

Every household has their own secret recipe for podi and it tastes different in every house. When in school, I used to taste podi from my friends’ lunch boxes and each of them would taste different. Podi would differ in texture, taste, and visual appeal. Grainy, powdery, spicy, orange, greenish black, they come in all varieties. Recently, I tried MTR chutney powder (they market podi by that name) and I quite liked the taste of it. Unlike authentic Tamil Nadu style podi, this one is tangy. I believe tamarind is an ingredient in that recipe. Though I liked the MTR taste, being the conservative types when it comes to food, I prefer the authentic spicy taste without any tanginess.
This recipe is a mix of 2-3 different types of podis that I have had.

Black gram/urad dal/uzhunnu parippu (white or black) – 1 cup
Bengal gram/chana dal/kadala parippu (optional) – 1/4 cup
Raw rice (optional) – 1/4 cup
Dried red chilly – 10
Black pepper (optional) – 1 tbsp
Curry leaves – 6-7 stalks
Asafoetida – size of a marble/2 tsp
Sesame seeds/Til/ellu (white or black) – 2 tbsp
Salt – as required

ingredients for gun powder

In a heavy bottomed pan (preferably iron), dry roast the grains one after the other until the grains turn red. First roast black gram. Then roast chana dal, followed by rice. Okay, I cheated! I roasted chana dal, kept it aside and then roasted the raw rice and black gram together. That works. When the black gram and rice are half done, add red chilies, black pepper, asafoetida, and curry leaves. If you are using asafoetida powder, you can add it towards the end of the roasting exercise. Turn off the fire and then add the sesame seeds and salt. Keep aside and let it cool down a bit.

While the roasted grains are still warm, dry grind them in a mixer. You can choose to make it powdery or grainy as per your preference. Store in a dry air tight jar. Will stay good for 3-4 months.

Gun powder

Choice of oil to be mixed with podi is a personal preference. Podi is served along with sesame seed oil (til oil/ellenna/nallenna) in most parts of Tamil Nadu. No points for guessing the oil that Keralites prefer!

Idlis and dosas soaked in spicy podi are a rage in restaurants these days. Whether you have a chutney and sambhar to go along with it or not, a well-made podi can up the taste quotient of even a poorly made idli/dosa.