Mango Pachidi - chunky mango sauce
Mango pachidi is traditionally made in my family on Tamil New Year's day. While the practice involves using neem flowers as well, I had to forgo that as I couldn't find it anywhere in my area. The spicy, sweet-and-sour sauce is meant to reiterate the multiple facets of life.

Ingredients (makes 2 cups):

raw mango - 1 (thin-skinned)
jaggery - 2 small cubes (1/4 cup)
green chilly - 1 large
red chilly - 1 large
turmeric powder - a pinch
mustard - 1/2 tsp
oil - 1 tsp
curry leaves - a twig
salt - 1/2 tsp
neem flowers - 2 tbsp (optional)


Cut mango into 1 inch pieces with the skin. Chop green chillies into tiny pieces. Heat oil in a sauce pan and add mustard seeds. When it splutters, add curry leaves and green chilly. Break red chillies into small pieces and add that as well. Stir once and add mango pieces. Cook with salt, neem leaves and turmeric powder until soft but not mushy.

Meanwhile, boil a cup of water and add jaggery. Once it dissolves, add to the mango mixture and cook until it thickens to a sauce-like consistency.
Karadaiyan nombu adai - sweet and savory versions
Karadaiyan nombu is a fasting event observed by some South Indian women. Legend has it that on this day, Savithri, a queen whose family was banished to the forest, got back everything they lost and also brought her dead husband back to life with her steadfast devotion. 

While it is supposed to be fasting food, I personally love the taste of this simple adai.

Ingredients (makes about 20 sweet and 20 savory adais):

rice flour - 2 cups
black-eyed peas - 1 cup / 1 can
grated coconut - 1/3 cup
jaggery - 3/4 cup
green chillies - 2
mustard seeds - 1 tsp
black gram - 1 tsp
bengal gram - 1 tsp
cumin seeds - 1 tsp
curry leaves - 1 stalk
ginger paste - 1/2 tsp
salt - 1/2 tsp
oil - 2 tbsp
ghee - 1 tsp
elaichi powder - a pinch
asafoetida - a pinch
water - 4 cups


Heat a tablespoon of oil. Fry coconut for a minute and add rice flour. Roast for a few minutes until the smell of raw rice flour is gone, but before it starts turning light brown. If using dry black-eyed peas, pressure cook them in plenty of water until just cooked. The black-eyed peas should not be overcooked or mushy. Drain and add to the roasted rice flour. Split the mixture into two halves.

For sweet adai:

Melt jaggery in a sauce pan with half a cup of water. Once the jaggery is melted, add ghee, elaichi powder and another 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and add one half of the rice flour mixture. Mix well and cook for a few minutes. Make a soft but firm dough. Roll out lemon-sized balls, flatten them into small patties and make a hole in the center. Steam cook until the surface turns slightly shiny (my electric steamer takes about 45 minutes and gas stove steamer takes about 25 minutes).

For savory adai:

Heat a tablespoon of oil. Add asafoetida, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, bengal gram and black gram. When it splutters and the grams start turning golden brown, add finely chopped green chillies and chopped curry leaves. Then add two cups of water and bring to a boil. Add salt and the remaining half of the rice flour mixture. Cook for a few minutes and make a soft but firm dough. Roll out into lemon-sized balls, flatten them out into small patties and make a hole in the center. Steam cook along with the sweet adai if possible, for the same amount of time.

1. Add flour little by little to the boiling water and keep stirring, to avoid lumps.
2. The flour needs to be cooked well before steaming.
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