Mango Mirchi (Aam Stuffed Anaheim Chilli)

Homegrown Anaheim Peppers
Anaheim Peppers from My Veggie Garden

In mango mirchi, chillies are stuffed with green mango and pan-fried to golden. Easy to prepare and a tasty side dish, this is a must try recipe for sour mango-hot chilli flavor fanatics.

Anaheim Peppers and Mango Stuffing

Mango Mirchi
(for one or two meals)

4 chillies, (banana pepper or anaheim variety)
1/2 cup, cut mango pieces
1 tablespoon, sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon, cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon, salt or to taste
1 tablespoon, peanut oil

Mango: In a cast iron pan, add and dry-toast sesame seeds and cumin seeds to fragrance. Cool. Take them in a mixer. Grind to fine powder. To this sesame mix, add mango pieces and salt. Blend to fine paste without adding water. This is mango stuffing.

Mirchi: Cut off the stem and make a vertical slit. Remove the seeds. Gently open and stuff the chillies with mango stuffing. (If chillies are long, cut into two equal length pieces and then stuff.)

Mango Mirchi: Heat a cast-iron skillet. Add oil and heat over medium heat. When oil is hot, place the chillies in a single layer. Cook until golden brown. Using a spatula, gently turn the mango mirchi to other side and cook to brown. Remove and serve hot.

With sour-spicy taste, Mango mirchi makes a memorable side dish to rice and roti with dal, dahi or subji combination.

Mango Mirchi
Mango Mirchi Cooking in a Cast-Iron Skillet

Mango Mirchi
Mango Mirchi ~ for Meal Today

Andhra Aavakaaya with Green Mangoes

In a culture where the pride of the garden is mango and spices rule the kitchen, mango aavakaaya is a prayer answered for heavenly meals. South Indian people around the world prepare aavakaaya during summer time, wherever green, unripe mangoes are available. This centuries-old culinary tradition has roots in Andhra Pradesh. Aava means mustard in Telugu and the pickle prepared with mustard base is called Aavakaaya. This is a much-loved pickle in many families and traditional bhojanam would always have mango aavakaaya as part of the meal. Words really do not do justice to describe the aavakaaya taste; I think one must have to experience the exquisite flavor of this culinary royalty.

Aavakaaya is all natural ingredients and easy to make at home. Prepare it with fresh ingredients, add enough salt and keep the pickle making area and vessels dry and moisture free. Follow these pickle precautions for successful tradition of aavakaaya. The most difficult thing is finding green mangoes, particularly if you live in the US. Green mangoes are unripe mangoes plucked prematurely in their earlier stage of growth. Green, unblemished skin, hard and crisp flesh with mouth puckering sour taste – this type of green mango is optimal for aavakaaya.

Mango Aavakaaya
(Makes about 75 oz Aavakaaya)

Ingredients needed:
We need 8 ingredients for basic aavakaaya preparation

4 large green mangoes (about 9 cups cut mangoes)
1 cup, red chilli powder
1 to 1+quarter cups, sea salt or iodine free salt
1/2 teaspoon, turmeric

3/4 cup, mustard seeds (aavaalu)
1/4 cup, methi seeds (menthi)
2 cups sesame oil, Indian variety
1/4 teaspoon, hing (inguva)

Green Mangoes:
1. Pick rock-hard green mangoes with unblemished skin. Wash under water and then dry with a clean cloth. Make sure they are completely dry and do not peel the skin.
2. On a clean, dry cutting board, with a dry, sharp knife, slice the mango through the center going from top to bottom. The inner stone covering the seed in green mangoes have not had a chance to harden completely so we can actually cut right through the seedstone with a sharp knife. Discard the seed. (Seed is not edible, remove it completely.)
3. Cut the mango into slices, with the stone wall included and then cut the slices into 1/2 inch dice.
4. Take the mango slices in a big and dry stainless steel or ceramic bowl. Sprinkle with red chilli powder, salt and turmeric. With a wooden spoon, gently mix well. Set aside. Do not cover the bowl.

Aavakaaya Base:
Aavakaaya Powder: Heat a cast-iron kadai or skillet. When skillet is hot, add first methi seeds and then mustard seeds. Roast them on low heat for couple of minutes, stirring constantly to fragrance. Turn off the heat and cool the ingredients. Take them in a mixer, grind to fine powder. This is aavakaaya powder.
Aavakaaya Oil: In the same skillet that was used for aavakaaya powder, pour sesame oil. Warm the oil on moderate heat. Add hing and gently mix. Turn off the heat. Cool the oil. This is now aavakaaya oil. We could also add peeled garlic cloves to prepare garlic aavakaaya variety.

Mango Aavakaaya:
Add aavakaaya powder and aavakaaya oil over mango pieces. Gently mix well. Transfer the pickle to a clean, dry, wide mouthed ceramic or glass jar with a non-corrosive lid. Close loosely and place the jar on the kitchen countertop where air circulates freely. Mix once a day with a wooden spoon for a week.

Within hours, mango pieces start to take in the aavakaaya powder and oil. As a result, volume also reduces. Aavakaaya keep maturing with time and the mango pieces become from just sour to a potent combination of hot-salty sour with mustard-methi pungency mixed in.

Mango Aavakaaya will keep for several months to a year without refrigeration.

Amazing Aavakaaya:
Mango aavakaaya may be eaten within 2 days of making it, though it continues to mellow with time. For daily meals, what we do is take small portions from the main jar into a small cup or jar. In this way, the main pickle source won’t get disturbed daily and the chance of spoil would be less.

Mix few pieces of mango aavakaaya with hot, cooked rice, any kind of dal and warm ghee. Combine the four well. Make small, round sized portions (mudda). Enjoy the mango aavakaaya mudda!

Mango Aavakaaya Preparation in Images

Green, Unripe Mangoes
Green Mangoes with Unblemished Skin For Mango Aavakaaya

Quarter the mangoes and discard the seed
Slice the mangoes lengthwise, cutting through the Mango Seedstone.

Cut Mangoes
Discard the Seed and Slice the Mango, About 1/4-inch Thickness

Mangoes cut for aavakaaya
Cut the Mango Slices to 1/2-inch Dice

Mustard and methi powder for aavakaaya
Prepare Aavakaaya Powder (Methi-Mustard Powder)

Mangoes mixed with aavakaaya powder
Mix Mangoes with Aavakaaya Powder, Chilli Powder, Salt and Turmeric

Mangoes with aavakaaya powder and sesame oil
Add Aavakaaya Oil to Mango Pieces and Mix Well.

Mango Aavakaaya
Store the Mango Aavakaaya in a Jar

Meal Today
Mango Aavakaaya Bhojanam ~ An Andhra Experience

Aavakaaya is our cherished culinary heritage. I feel fortunate to prepare it at home and share it with you here on Mahanandi.

Notes:
for 7 big mangoes, for 13 cups cut mango -
1+1/2 cups each – sea salt, chilli powder and mustard powder, 1/4 cup of methi powder and 2 cups of sesame oil.

The Art of Andhra Aavakaaya with Mangoes

Green, Unripe Mangoes

Quarter the mangoes and discard the seed

Cut Mangoes

Mangoes cut for aavakaaya

Mustard and methi powder for aavakaaya

Mangoes mixed with aavakaaya powder

Mangoes with aavakaaya powder and sesame oil

Mango Aavakaaya

Andhra Aavakaaya ~ Tomato Aavakaaya with Green Tomatoes

Aavakaaya is a type of centuries-old pickle tradition from Andhra Pradesh, India. In aavakaaya, the dressing itself forms the base and the green, raw vegetables are used subordinately to add texture, flavor and color. Freshly grounded dried red chillies and mustard seeds play leading role, supported by methi seed powder, salt and sesame oil. This aavakaaya base goes exceptionally well with green, unripe mangoes, lemon-cukes and also with green tomatoes.

Tomatoes, when they are immature and unripe have lemon-cuke like firm texture and sour, acidic flavor, so they are suitable to this style of traditional pickle making. This 100 plus year old recipe source is amma, Nandyala and the recipe suggestion came from a friend over dinner conversation. Thanks Kousalya and Sanjeev for the excellent suggestion.

Green tomatoes

Andhra Aavakaaya with Green Tomatoes
(for a small batch of about 3 cups pickle)

Green Tomatoes:
Pick about 6 medium-sized green tomatoes. They have to be firm with no damage to skin and when cut open, the insides have to be in green without any hint of pink or red ripening colors.
Rinse the tomatoes under water. Pat them dry with a clean cloth. On a dry cutting board, chop tomatoes finely into half-inch pieces (about 3 cups). Take the tomato pieces in a clean, dry glass or ceramic bowl.

Aavakaaya Base:

    For Aavakaaya Powder: Heat a skillet. When skillet is hot, add 2 tablespoons of black mustard seeds, half teaspoon of methi seeds and 10 ring finger length dried red chillies. Roast them to fragrance, constantly stirring. Cool the ingredients to room temperature. In a clean, dry mixer, take the roasted ingredients and grind them to fine powder. (About half cup of powder.)

    Aavakaaya Oil: In the same skillet, add quarter cup of Indian sesame oil. Heat the oil and add quarter teaspoon of hing powder. Gently mix and turn off the flame. Cool the oil to room temperature. Instead of hing, we could also add peeled garlic cloves and fresh sprig of curry leaves to oil for different ruchi.

Tomato Aavakaaya:
Sprinkle aavakaaya powder over green tomato pieces. Add quarter cup iodine-free, sea salt. Using a clean, dry wooden spoon, gently combine. Pour the aavakaaya oil. Mix well.

Ladle the pickle into a clean ceramic or glass jar. Cover loosely with a lid. Keep it undisturbed on the kitchen countertop and after three days, mix well again and start having it. This rest period will give enough time for tomatoes to absorb the aavakaaya seasoning.

Tomato aavakaaya tastes great with all types of traditional breakfast items and particularly with rice/roti -dal/dahi combination. It stays fresh up to a month as long as pickle precautions (no wet stuff, enough salt) are taken.

Here is the Tomato Aavakaaya preparation in images:


Chopped green tomatoes for aavakaaya


Green tomatoes mixed with aavakaaya powder and aavakaaya oil


Andhra Aavakaaya with Green Tomatoes

Note: The proportions I used above are for a general, mild preparation. Some people prefer using more Aavakaaya Powder and Aavakaaya Oil for their pickles. If you prefer making the pickle with more base, you could use one-and-half or two times the proportions, or to your liking.
For aavakaaya, we need Indian, untoasted sesame oil, available at Indian grocery shops. This is different from Chinese sesame oil.

Garden Log, June 2010

Table Rose (moss rose)
Table Rose (Moss Rose) in Bloom

June started with warm weather and thunderstorms here in Houston.

Yellow squash and zucchini plants are in their final stage, so had to remove them. They were such characters with those big, prolific leaves, flowers and fruit. With them gone, the veggie patch seemed little empty this evening.

Planted few more seeds of turai, chikkudu and karela.

On green leafy front, sowed green and red amaranth (thotakura) seeds and another patch of gongura seeds last week. They thrive in hot weather and the seedlings are coming up nicely.

Kept few cucumbers on the vine until they are very big and mature for seeds.

Weighed the tomato harvest today. Yield was 10 pounds. Another 5 pounds from the last two weeks for a total of 15 pounds from 12 plants. There are still at least another two pounds of tomatoes on the plants. Not bad.

Tomato plants are growing tall, but there are no new flowers/fruit. Would it be helpful to prune the tomato plants to encourage new growth and fruit? Appreciate response from experienced tomato growers.

Here are some vegetable harvest photos for this week:


Tomatoes (Brandywine, Celebrity, Cherokee Purple), 10 pounds and
12 cherry tomatoes


1 zucchini, 2 yellow squash, 5 cucumbers, 6 mirchi


3 bell peppers, 7 brinjals, 12 okra


3 ripe cucumbers for seeds

Green Tomato Chutney

I have so many tomatoes from my garden right now and it’s overwhelming. I have been cooking as many dishes as possible before they get spoiled in this warm and humid Houston weather. One of the recipes I have come up is delicious tasting India inspired chutney with green tomatoes. The recipe is easy, requires only five ingredients and stores well too. The chutney has mild mix of sour-sweet-spice ruchi and tasted really good when applied on toasted bread/chapati.

Green Tomatoes from my Garden
Green Tomatoes from My Garden

Green Tomato Chutney
(makes about four cups of chutney)

4 big-sized green tomatoes, coarsely chopped, about 6 cups
2 medium-sized onions, coarsely chopped, about 3 cups
6 to 8 green chillies, Indian or Thai variety, finely chopped
1 tablespoon, peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon, sea salt or to taste

1. Heat a heavy pot, pour peanut oil and heat until hot about a minute.
2. Add onion and chillies. Stir-fry until they are soft and pale brown.
3. Add green tomatoes. Saute over medium heat for about ten minutes. When tomatoes are cooked to soft mush, turn off the heat. Let the ingredients cool to room temperature.
4. Take them in a blender or mortar. Add salt and puree until smooth. Taste and adjust salt if necessary. Ladle into a clean jar.
5. Serve green tomato chutney with your favorite savory items. The chutney stays fresh for about a week, when refrigerated.

Green Tomato Chutney on Toasted Bread
Green Tomato Chutney on Toasted Bread ~ for Meal Today

Tomato-Garlic Rasam from Nandyala

I left some of the harvested cherry tomatoes on the kitchen counter. Waited a week. When they ripened to deep red, soft to touch stage, I prepared one of my favorite tomato recipes, the traditional tomato-garlic rasam of Nandyala. The rasam has all the usual and lovable characters- the ripe tomatoes, garlic and Indian spices and no gimmicky substances like store-bought stock, ‘enriched’ flour or loads of butter. One thing the rasam demands is that we put some energy into it. No machines, just using our God-given hands. For the effort, the tomatoes richly reward us with their bold, exquisite essence making the rasam tasting a memorable experience.

Home-grown Cherry Tomatoes
Homegrown Cherry Tomatoes

Tomato Garlic Rasam from Nandyala
(for 2 to 4 meal portions)

Prepare the rasam only with burst on touch, water balloon like very ripe tomatoes.

Tomatoes: Take 10 very ripe cherry tomatoes or 2 vine-ripe tomatoes in a big bowl. Chop them coarsely into the bowl. Add a tablespoon of tamarind pulp and a fistful of fresh cilantro leaves. Add a cup of water. Using your clean hand, gently squeeze the ingredients together to extract the juicy essence. Pull up a chair, sit and patiently do it at least for five minutes to bring out the best. Pour the juice through a filter into a bowl, repeat the process one more time and discard the squeezed out pulp.

Garlic : In a mortar, (no blenders, please) take a peeled, plump garlic clove. Add 4 cloves, a tablespoon of coriander seeds, quarter teaspoon each – cumin seeds and black peppercorn. With a pestle, crush the ingredients to smooth paste without adding any water.

Tomato-Garlic Rasam: Heat a teaspoon of peanut oil in a vessel. Add and toast a sprig of curry leaves, a pinch of cumin seeds to fragrance. Add the tomato juice from step 1 and garlic-spice paste from step 2. Sprinkle a quarter teaspoon each- turmeric and salt. Stir in a tablespoon of crushed jaggery and a cup of water. Mix well. Bring the rasam to boil and then simmer for about five minutes.

Serve the tomato-garlic rasam warm in a bowl. Bursting with tomato essence and in bold red, the rasam is great to sip on its own or to eat with cooked rice.

Tomato Garlic Rasam
A Bowl of Tomato-Garlic Rasam ~ for Meal Today

Weekend Vegetable Harvest

Tomatoes from my Garden

Home Garden Harvest for this Week:
28 tomatoes (Brandywine, Celebrity, Cherokee Purple)
16 okra (bendi)
8 brinjals (purple variety)
7 cucumbers (pickle variety)
4 yellow squash
2 zucchini
1 turai (beerakaaya)
Bunch of ripe, red chillies

Vegetables from my Garden

Payala Kura Pappu (Purslane Dal)

Purslane (Payala Kura)
Payala Kura (Purslane) from my Garden

Last March, I planted some seeds expecting edible amaranth plants. But then came in abundance, pleasant looking plants with plump leaves and tiny yellow flowers. The leaves in size and shape resembled methi but they are much thicker. I couldn’t identify them for sure, so I called my amma(mom) and described the plant in detail. Amma said, “Indira, you have payala kura. It’s an old-time leafy vegetable, tasty and good for skin and eye health. Remember, payala kura pappu (dal), kura(curry) and chutney I make. You used to like it.”

Last time I had payala kura was at Nandyala, at my mom’s home, almost 15 years ago. So finding it here is definitely a delightful surprise. There is some very good information about this native to India plant, and could be found on Google search. Just type payala kura (Telugu) or Purslane (English). I also realized I had these greens growing all along in between the flower bushes. Here it was, a tiny plant, promising a wealth of health, but treated like a no-value weed. I wonder why sometimes we tend to overlook the best that is readily available and right in front of us.

Following my mom’s suggestion, I made traditional, Telugu vaari payala kura pappu today. Thanks to the sweet-sour taste of payala leaves, the dal came out wonderful, and it tasted better than spinach dal, almost as good as gongura dal.

Payala Pappu (Purslane Dal)
(for 2 or 4, for 2 to 1 meal)

¾ cup, Toor dal
2 cups, tightly packed – Fresh Payala (purslane) leaves and tender stems
1 onion or shallot – coarsely chopped, about a half cup
6 to 8, green chilli, Indian or Thai variety, chopped,
1 tablespoon, tamarind
¼ teaspoon, turmeric

Take toor dal in a pressure-cooker. Rinse well. Add the payala leaves, onion, chilli, tamarind and turmeric. Add about 2 cups of water. Mix. Pressure cook the ingredients to soft. Once all the valve pressure is released, remove the lid. Add half teaspoon of salt. With a wood masher or whisk, gently mix and mash the dal to smooth. You have made the purslane dal. Now the only thing left is, the final touch, the hing (asafetida, inguva) tadka.

For hing tadka: Heat a tablespoon of peanut oil in a vessel. When oil is hot, add a sprig of fresh curry leave, a pinch each- cumin, mustard seeds and hing. Constantly mixing, toast the ingredients to fragrance. Add the dal to this hing tadka. Mix well.

Serve the purslane dal with rice or roti with some curry or papad on the side for a traditional Telugu meal.

Payala Kura Pappu with Kerala Matta Rice
Payala Pappu with Kerala Matta Rice ~ for Meal Today

Notes:
Payala Kura in Encyclopedia of Indian Medicine

Jihva Workout Vratham ~ Week 4

May 22 and 23:

Vratham Food:
Sundal, sambar and subji, the three S’s with plenty of fresh vegetables and protein filled lentils was my food intake on the weekend.
Workout: Not much except the routine, weekend shopping walk.

May 24:

Vratham Food:
Morning: A cup of Ragi malt and one cucumber
Noon: Zucchini zunka (love this recipe) with roti, and a bowl of mango and pear fruits
Evening: Capsicum subzi with roti plus a small cup of yogurt rice with diced cucumbers
Workout: 30 minutes walk + 3 hours gardening work + 15 minutes meditation
Miss you. dear Kay!

May 25:

Vratham Food:
Morning: A cup of ragi malt and one cucumber
Noon: Capsicum subzi in Sesame sauce with one roti + a bowl of pear fruit
Evening: A bowl of Payala kura pappu (purslane dal) with Kerala matta rice + a glass of ginger buttermilk
Workout: 30 minutes walk + 15 minutes meditation

May 26 to 31:

Vratham Food:
Morning: Sundal and Ragi malt
Noon: Bowl of Subzi with fresh and green leafy vegetables with roti and a bowl of fruit
Evening: A bowl of Sambar Soopa with toor dal and plenty of fresh vegetables and a bowl of fruit
Workout: Walking, weights and meditation

Vratham Results:
Sundal, Subzi and Sambar, the three S’s of Bharath’s culinary staples were my Satyam, Sivam and Sundaram during Workout Vratham. I am glad I did the workout vratham. I feel light and I have much more energy than before.

Weekend Vegetable Harvest for May 4th Week

Vegetable Harvest for May 4th week
Home Garden Harvest for May 4th Week

As the summer approaches, I see brinjals getting bigger and tomatoes slowly changing color from green to red shades. Tiny pequin peppers are also coming up a lot. They would make great tadka mirchi. My plan is to soak them in dahi(Indian yogurt) and sun-dry to prepare dahi mirchi.

Here is the vegetable count for this week.

7 yellow zucchini
1 green zucchini (I thought I planted only yellow)
9 cucumbers (pickle variety)
6 brinjals (purple variety)
15 okra (bendi)
8 cherry tomatoes and 1 big, ripe tomato (Cherokee Purple)
28 green chillies (bajji variety)
4 anaheim peppers
Bunch of chilli pequins (tiny tadka/talimpu mirchi)
Bunch of green beans

Do you know cucumber pickle recipes without vinegar? Any new ideas and recipes for the above vegetables? I would love to hear from you.

Garden Blooms ~ Gardenia

Gardenias from My Garden
Fragrant Gardenias from My Garden

Lakshmi chinnamma, who lives in Hyderabad, India loves gardening as much as I do. She is an avid plant collector. I remember her growing sandalwood, parijaatham to name a few. She just started browsing my website and I know she would enjoy seeing beautiful gardenias from my garden. If I could only share their potent jasmine like fragrance as well…

Gardenia in Bloom
Beautiful Gardenia ~ for Dear Lakshmi Chinnamma

Chinnaamma (Telugu) = Mother’s Younger Sister

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