Monday, July 30, 2007

Home Made Citron pickle/Narthangai Oorugai



I was totally thrilled in a word, when the JFI of the month was announced as Chillies, the unavoidable ingredient of the Indian Cuisine and the lovely hot vegetable my blog supports!.

Narthangai popularly known as Citron belonging to the Citrus family is commonly preserved as the pickle or the sour juice used to make the rice variety named Nathampazha sadham, in Tamil Cuisine.The half-ripened citrons are the best to make pickles and the ripened, Narthampazha sadham, ‘pazham’simply meaning ‘the fruit’.

Thus, a few days back, a couple of Citrons were seen trotting gaily into my house, unexpectedly, sent by my ma in law, direct from her garden!.Normally I had tried making the Citron Rice as noted earlier,but not used to making pickles with the same.Therefore it was lazily postponed till the mind got refreshed to proceed confidently with the easiest version of pickle-recipe after my lovely eldest sis in law.Her recipe was perfect, since I followed her sweet advices like…try to make a little quantity at first,do not use too much of oil while tempering as it might absorb all the extra quantity used, better use a ceramic jar or a wide mouthed glass bottle and wooden spoons, refrigerate when not in use as we are still not experts and the pickle might get spoilt soon and so on…..but the oorugai stays well in my jar even after a week on the stone topped console of the dining room.:).

So, let me share, her version of the recipe, which was well approved by her younger brother, naturally!!.. :).....;my entry to JFI-Chillies hosted by the blog celebrity, Nanditha of Saffron Trail, the great event being the brain child of yet another celebrity of the blogosphere, Indira of Mahanandi.

Yields- One small dessert bowl.

Ingredients:

1. An Orange sized half ripe Citron / Narthangai.
2. Green chillies(optional)-each cut into 4s,by slitting once length wise and then again breadthwise.
3. A tbsp of Fresh red chilly powder.I used ‘Shakthi’ brand, the best available and excellent for pickles.
4. A tbsp of Gingelly/sesame seed oil /nalla ennai
5. ½ tsp of Mustards/kaduku
6. Salt-to taste.You may need at least 3 tsps.Again it is recommended that the amount chilly powder and salt has to be adjusted to suit your personal needs.
7. 3 pinches of hing/kayam.
8. A tsp of fenugreek seeds/venthaiyam/uluva

Method:

1. Slice the citron into 2 halves, just as the way an orange is sliced.The first half as to be cut into cubes and refrigerate the extracted juice from the second.

2. Add salt to the cut pieces in a ceramic jar.Toss well. Secure with an appropriate lid and keep the jar aside in a warm, cool place for 2-3 days, tossing the pieces at least twice a day.

3. By the third day the pieces would have turned softer along with its juice,oozed out of the pieces due to the added salt.Add the green chilly pieces and toss.Top this with the red chilly powder as a small heap.

4. Heat oil and splutter the mustard seeds.Add hing and immediately pour this over to the chilly powder heap.The heat of the oil will help to get rid of the raw flavour of the powder.Do not add the chilly powder along with the tempered ingredients on fire as this will burn the powder and it might lose its colour, taste and thickness.

5. Dry fry the fenugreek seeds in medium flame for a few seconds and powder.Add not more than 3 pinches of the powder as even little more would turn the pickle bitter. Add the Citron juice now and toss or mix the pickle well using a wooden or a plastic spoon.Check salt and store carefully closed in a warm and cool place.


Disclaimer
- Making pickles in larger quantities does need lots of expertise.The quality and the shelf life of the pickle depends upon the quality of the Citron and the chilly powder used along with the storage conditions.Therefore it is necessary to use the best available ingredients and store the pickle appropriately, in a closed jar with a piece of white cloth tied loosely around the neck.There are a few more methods of preparation,as well.Salted citron pieces are also sun dried and preserved, activating with the chilly powder and the other ingredients along with a little warm water, to turn to pickle, whenever needed.Citrons are invariably supreme to lime in taste, aroma and medicinal values.You can very well substitute citrons by lime and follow the same method for making Lime Pickle....

Monday, July 9, 2007

Carrot Rice/Carrot Sadham

My previous week was mostly occupied by weddings, guests and childrens’ exams.Surprisingly I found myself spending most of the time in kitchen coming out with lots of food, but less time to browse or blog.And eventually the shorter free-times were utilised to relax or indulge in a tiring nap…

Carrot rice, a much relied on choice in such lazy moods, a nutritious, yet an easy to prepare rice delicacy, is neverthlessly my family’s all time favourite.This particular rice variety does demand a little too much of oil for a richer taste and quality…still..considering the diet consciousness, kindly use the lightest refined oil of your choice, but let it be used a little liberally.

Serves-4,Cooking time-50 minutes.

Ingredients:

400gms/2 cups of Long Grain varietied rice.(I used a year old ponni raw rice.)
A tbsp of fresh ghee or refined oil(to mix with the cooked rice.)
A Cup of freshly grated Carrots
A Cup of Big Onions sliced lengthwise
½ cup of Refined Oil
½ tsp of Mustards
¾ tsp of Urad dal
½ tsp of Turmeric powder
Salt-to taste
A stalk of Curry leaves

To powder,

½ Cup of Coriander seeds/Kotha malli
½ Cup of Bengal gram dal/Kadalai paruppu
12-15 no:s of Red Chillies or adjust the number as needed

Method:

1. Powder the last three listed ingredients in a mixie,raw.

2. Cook rice in salted water or according to the method you prefer.Let the grains be cooked but separate and not sticky.

3. Drain the cooked rice.Transfer rice to a broad flat plate or a wide, shallow container.Cool down to warmth.Add the 2 tbsp ghee or oil and mix gently with the flat end of a ladle or spatula, breaking any lumps during the process.Add salt if you have not added earlier while the rice was cooking.

4. Heat a large broad wok.Add ½ cup oil, splutter the mustards and brown the urad dal.Sauté the onions till translucent, followed by the carrots and the curry leaves.Fry them altogether in a medium flame for a minute. The onions would have acquired a golden brown colour and the carrots, just cooked by now. At this stage the level of the oil should be slightly above the sautéd ingredients.

5. Add 7-8 tsps of the previously prepared powder (Adjust the amt according to suit your taste.Reserve the excess powder for future use..),along with the turmeric powder.Saute for a few more seconds in low flame,just to get rid if the raw flavour of the powders.Turn off the flame, add a little salt, mix well again and transfer this into the cooked rice bowl.

6. Gently blend the ingredients well with the rice with a ladle or using fingers until the grains are coated uniformly.

7. Heat the required quantity of carrot rice in the same wok, used for frying, and serve hot with onion or cucumber raitha.