Pickle a Month ~ Key Lime Pickle

Maybe you always thought that pickling at home was complicated and time consuming. Maybe you assumed that you wouldn’t be good at it. But neither has to be true. You already know what you love (lemon, mango, tomato etc). Learning to preserve is simply a matter of finding new ways to put these ingredients in the form of a pickle.

How you ask: Master one new recipe each month. One time it might be lime pickle, another it’s carrot. There is no shortage of sources for simple, straightforward pickle recipes that anyone can do in very little time. Opt for the simplest and the best tasting. In a year, you will have 12 delicious, homemade pickle preserves in your kitchen shelf ready to satisfy your cravings.

My favorite among easy pickle recipes is lemon pickle. The success of lemon pickle depends on lemon juiciness, skin (rind) thickness and size of the fruit. Key limes are perfect for lemon pickle because of their small size, thin skin and ample juice. Pickle and wait for two weeks. They would be ready for consumption. They also look similar to the limes we get in India. With regular US limes, we have to wait much longer because it takes time for them (rind) to get softened.

Key limes are in season right now, and I bought 50 key limes for two dollars at Canino’s farmers market, last weekend. A tasty, traditional pickle that doesn’t use tons of oil or sugar sounded like a great use of these fresh key limes. And that is exactly what we did with them. The recipe directions are from my mother-in-law. Here is my humble attempt with bota boti inglepeesh translation of the directions. Hope they are clear enough for you to follow. Join “Pickle a Month Sangham”, prepare pickles at home and enjoy.

Key Lime Pickle (నిమ్మకాయ ఉరగాయ)

(Quantity is for a family of two, for three to six months)

50 key limes
15 regular sized limes for juice or 3 cups of limejuice
1½ cups iodine-free salt or sea salt
3/4 cup red chilli powder
1/8 cup methi (fenugreek) seeds
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon hing (asafetida)
Clean glass jar, big size (2 to 2.5 quarts) and muslin cloth

The preparation is four steps. Cut some, juice some, grind some and finish off with popu touch.

1. Key Limes: Wash key limes thoroughly. Pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel. Place them under afternoon sun on a clean cotton cloth for sun drying. After about 3 to 4 hours, bring them inside. Rub and wipe off any moisture with kitchen towel. Cut key limes into halves and quarters. Remove seeds as many as possible for clean flavor.

2. Limes: Wash, dry and cut into halves. Squeeze juice and keep it ready in a cup on the side. For 50 key limes, we need at least 3 cups of limejuice.

3. Methi seeds: Dry roast methi seeds in a hot skillet. Cool and grind into fine powder.

4. Pickle Popu: Heat a tablespoon of peanut oil. Add hing. Toast for couple of seconds to fragrance. Turn off the heat. Keep aside to cool to room temperature.

Take the cut key limes in a big vessel suitable for mixing.
Add limejuice, chilli powder, salt, methi powder and pickle popu.
Mix thoroughly.

With a clean spoon, add the pickle to a glass jar. Remove the lid and cover the glass jar opening with a muslin cloth. Keep the jar on the counter-top, and mix the pickle once a day for a week. Always use clean and dry spoons, and take caution not to add any water or moisture. After a week, remove the muslin cloth and cover the jar tightly with lid.

In two weeks, the lime rind will be softened and key lime pickle will be ready for consumption. We love to have this pickle with rice and dal/sambar/rasam or yogurt rice. Also tastes great with breakfast items like upma, pongal and applied on bread sandwiches.

Here is the Key Lime Pickle Preparation in Images:

Key Limes to Quarters
Key Lime Quarters

Bring the Ingredients Together:
Lime Juice, Red Chilli Powder, Sea Salt, and Methi Seeds
Lime Juice, Red Chilli Powder, Sea Salt, and Methi Seeds

Mixing the ingredients together

Key lime Pickle in a Glass Jar
Key lime Pickle in a Glass Jar

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.


The Market ~ Canino Produce, Houston

If you are from Bharath, you know how the general markets are. You will find vendors selling vegetables, fruits, grains and utensils etc, all at one place. It would not be a giant, gleaming supermarket where you would be silently staring at row after row of sticker-clad shelves. A market would be full of live people talking to you. You would be inquiring about things, bargaining on prices, paying in cash and counting the change. A whole lively experience is what you would get in those markets.

Last weekend, we visited one such market here in Houston called Canino Farmers Market. It was really an entirely different experience. The place hums with well-stocked, reasonably priced stalls that carry a variety of produce and one of a kind items from South America. Chaotic and endearing, what it lacks in polish it makes up in personality. It is a lively place to shop for fruits, vegetables, grains and kitchen stuff. There are also few stalls selling plants and fruit trees. We bought a flowering shrub called Nandi vardanam from a young lady. Her name is Cilia, and she was friendly and knowledgeable and has excellent collection of plants. If you are into gardening, don’t miss out her stall.

The other very fabulous finding was dear mangoes. We were surprised and delighted to find relatively tasty and large size golden mangoes. Dozen for $9, they were the best tasting mangoes we ever had here in the USA so far. If you are into good quality mangoes, go soon and get a dozen before the summer ends. There is a variety of other fruits available as well, like cantaloupes, watermelons, oranges, papaya etc. at low prices.

The market opens at 6AM everyday. If you are planning a Saturday trip, go early in the morning for the first pick. In the front, you will see a large covered shed with “Canino Produce” board. Go to the back of the shed into the open area, where you can buy fruits like mangoes directly from the wholesale traders. Keep some dollar notes ready. They take only cash and no credit cards. There is also a busy bakery opposite the farmer’s market where you can get a variety of Mexican desserts.

Canino Farmer Market makes a nice, half-day getaway for produce-pilgrims. If you are planning for a trip, I wish you fruitful and cheerful experience. If you make it, do let me know how you like the whole deal.

Here are some photos of the Market from our recent visit.

Canino's Produce Inc
Canino’s Farmers Market

Bought key limes 25 for $1 here

Bought Mexican Squash two for $1 here

Tempting Chilli Varieties

Friendly People

Beans and Grains

Kitchen Stuff

Cilia’s Plant and Fruit Tree Stall

Any day I could buy such sweet Mangoes is a good day!

For those of you interested to go, here are the address and the directions:

Canino Produce
2520 Airline Dr.
Houston, TX 77009
Phone: 713-862-4027
Map it

Directions: From Sugar Land – Take 59 North and to 610 North. On 610, take exit 17A to Airline Drive. Turn right on Airline Drive, and you will see Canino’s produce immediately to your left. Parking is very crowded but free, in front of Canino’s or to the sides of the open stalls.


Sun Salutation: Majjiga Mirapa (Dahi Mirchi)

It’s afternoon in June. Kids are on summer vacation, and not a single person out on the streets. It’s so hot here I wish it would rain – not so much for us because we have seen it.:) But for the in-laws, who came all the way from Nandyala to escape the heat and expecting some cold US weather.

Well, what can we do? Instead of moping around mumbling “it’s hot, it’s too hot …”, we decided to put the sun power to some culinary use. We started making traditional majjiga mirapa, vadiyalu and appadaalu.

What is that you ask? Let’s begin the series with Majjiga Mirapa. Telugu to ingleesh translation: sun-dried yogurt chillies. In Hindi, dahi mirchi.

How to: Pick slender and straight looking green chillies. I used fresh cayenne peppers for today’s recipe. with a sharp knife, slit the chilli in middle on one side. Keep the ends and the stem intact. Prepare all the chillies this way.

Take homemade Indian yogurt in a wide vessel. Add salt to yogurt. For a cup of yogurt, at least two tablespoons salt is needed. Add the slit chillies and soak them in salted yogurt for three to four days. Chillies should be covered completely with salted yogurt.

Stir the chillies two or three times a day for uniform coating. Do not cover the vessel at any stage. The acid in yogurt preserves the chillies and bleaches them to white. Chilli taste also changes from pure hot to a mix of sour, salty and spicy.

On the fourth day, remove the chillies from yogurt. Place them on a thick cotton cloth, under hot Sun for drying. It would take usually one or two days for them to completely dry. Bring the chillies inside during night, and keep under Sun during day time. Sun-dry until they are completely moisture-free. Store in a jar. They stay fresh for upto a year.

To Cook: Heat a cup of peanut oil and deep-fry majjiga mirapa to golden. We usually enjoy them with rice and dal /sambar/rasam or yogurt.

The taste: Sour, salty and spicy… very flavorful and addictive. One can’t help but say, “Salutation oh supreme Sun. May your shiny rays warm upon on our food always.”

Here are the Majjiga Mirapa Making in Images:

Chillies in Salted Indian Yogurt

Chillies Drying Under Hot Sun ~ Day One

Do you have this type of traditional culinary sun salutations? Do you practice?


Salam to Salan with Banana Peppers: Mirchi Ka Salan

Summer in Houston seems similar to summer in Andhra. If you venture out in the afternoon, you’d sure get a blinding headache from the radiant heat. It is so hot right now, even Tabasco sauce would seem milder. One could cool off with a drink of Tabasco sauce… weatherman joke on local TV. But anyway, to counter the heat with something hotter, I made mirchi-ka-salan with banana peppers from the backyard. Bharathiyan way to keep the cool during hot months. 🙂

Banana Pepper from Backyard

Mirchi Ka Salan with Banana Peppers
(for four adults, for two meals)

Mirchi (Banana Peppers)
10 medium-sized banana peppers
Slice into half and remove the stem, white pitch and seeds. Cut the peppers to bite-sized pieces. (Wear gloves for sensitive skin.)


To prepare salan, we need the following ingredients.
1/4 cup peanuts – roasted and skins removed
1/8 cup sesame seeds – toasted
4 dried red chillies (Indian variety)
1 tablespoon – coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon – cumin
4 cloves and 1 thumb length piece of cinnamon
1×1 inch piece of ginger and 2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons thick tamarind pulp
Fry the spices to fragrance on low heat. Take the roasted spices and other ingredients mentioned in the list above in a blender. Add about a cup of water and grind the ingredients to smooth paste. I usually add about a tablespoon of jaggery/sugar to this mix, to bring a mild-sweet flavor to salan paste.

Making of Mirchi ka Salan:

In a pan, heat about a tablespoon of peanut oil. Add the banana peppers. Saute to tender. Add the prepared salan paste. Add about half cup of water and mix. Have a taste, and adjust salt, sour(tamarind), sweet(jaggery) levels to your liking.

Cover the pot and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes on medium-low heat, stirring in-between. The color of salan sauce darkens and thickens. Mirchi ka Salan will be ready. Taste great with chapati or rice.

Chapati with Banana Pepper Ka Salan

Mirchi Ka Salan with Chapati ~ Meal Today and For JFI:Mirchi at Vysh’s Cardamom

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.


Weekend Sewing ~ Pillow Covers

Pillow Cover from a Cloth from Nandyala, India

Recently, when I was looking for some material suitable for pillow slipcovers, I came across an old cloth in one of my suitcases. I had brought this piece of cloth with me seven years ago from Nandyala. It was supposedly for kitchen curtains, but I have never gotten to use it. I stitched four small pillow covers out of it this weekend and they looked very nice. This has been the first project with my new Singer sewing machine.


Guacamole ~ My Version

Avocados from Chile

Small, grape like tomatoes from our backyard, Texas

Chilli-Garlic powder from home, Nandyala

Key limes from Mexico

Himalayan crystal salt probably from Himalayas

This is such a culinary bounty from different parts of the world. The moral to this melting pot: It does not matter who you are, what your origins are, or what you imagine you can do. Destiny awaits and you will be rewarded for embracing complexity through simplicity of flavor.

With this nugget 🙂 I wish you a sensible weekend.

Guacamole on a Rusk

Guacamole ~ My Version

2 ripe avocados
1 dozen grape tomatoes
1 teaspoon garlic-chilli powder
2 key limes for juice
4 sprigs of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste

Cut avocados to half, and remove the flesh from the pit. Place the avocado in a bowl. Add the garlic-chilli powder, lime juice and salt. Mix and mash the avocado with a fork or spoon.

Add grape tomatoes and cilantro. Combine well. Chill the guacamole to preserve before serving, if prepared ahead. Serve at room temperature for best taste.

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

Avocado Summer:
Jalapeno Guacamole from Sreelu


Avocado Puffed Rice (Avocado Borugulu)

Avocado and Puffed Rice
Avocado and Puffed Rice

Puffed rice is to rice, like popcorn is to corn. Puffed rice, known as borugulu in Telugu, is a staple food in many parts of Andhra, India. Traditionally they were made fresh daily by heating rice in a sand-filled oven. The processing makes rice less perishable and the puffed shape, the crunchiness makes them quite a favorite among all age groups.

We often prepare upma style breakfast called (B)Uggani with puffed rice. While making this today, I thought, “why not add avocado?” Why not, indeed. This is how I introduced avocado to parents. It was great and we all loved the avocado borugula breakfast this morning.

Avocado Puffed Rice (Avocado Borugulu)

(for four for a light meal or breakfast)

8 cups crisp, puffed rice
1 avocado – ripe flesh finely chopped
1 large red onion, finely sliced
1 semi ripe tomato, finely diced
4 fresh green chillies, finely chopped
½ tsp each- turmeric and salt
1/4 cup- cooked chickpeas or roasted peanuts
Few sprigs of fresh cilantro and one lime or lemon
1 tablespoon- peanut oil
From masala dabba: cumin, mustard seeds and curry leaves

The preparation is a two step process.

Step 1: Take a big pot and fill half of it with water. Add puffed rice in it and with your hands push the puffed rice into water to soak them well. After about 5 minutes, take handfuls of puffed rice and firmly squeeze the water out. Place them in a colander. This is done to clean the puffed rice. What must stay behind in water is any sand, dust and chaff of the puffed rice. To see this process in photos, click here.

Step 2: Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add and fry a sprig of curry leaves and a pinch each – mustard seeds and cumin to fragrance. Add onions, green chilli and tomatoes. Saute for five minutes to tender. Add chickpeas, turmeric and salt. Stir and fry for two more minutes and turn off the heat.

Add the puffed rice to this hot onion mixture. Add avocado, cilantro and lime juice. Combine well gently. Serve as soon as you prepare. Tastes great when still hot.

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

Traditional Borugula Recipes:
(B)Uggani for Breakfast
Borugula Laddu for Dessert

Avocado Puffed Rice
Avocado Borugulu ~ for Breakfast Today


Garden Log: June 09

Rose from Front yard
Rose from Front yard

It is getting quite warm here in Houston. The backyard vegetable garden seems to thrive under hot and humid conditions. Tomatoes, peppers, bendi and brinjals are fruiting well. Some of you emailed me about tomatillo status. It is growing like a lanky teenager. Lot of vertical growth with flowers but no tomatillos so far. I could not get another tomatillo plant this year for cross-pollination. If I plant next time, there will be a pair.

The vegetable vines are also doing well. Red alasanda (Asparagus beans) are growing like there is no tomorrow and producing lot of pods. Chikkudu (Indian broad beans) are also flowering a lot. Karela, Turai, Zucchini, green beans, cucumber are coming up slowly.

For vegetable vines, Vijay and father-in-law together built a support system with some wooden beams. The frame is four columns, one in each corner. Connected them horizontally with three sawed and sized beams. One on each end and another one in the middle. The gap between the beams is filled with wire mesh. Near the vegetable vines, we stuck four to six small sticks. Tied a twine to each stick and connected the twine to wire mesh above. The vines are following the twine to the frame. The support system is nothing fancy, but it seems to do the job.

Here are some photos from the backyard.

Row of Roses
Row of Roses

Maruvam (Sweet Marjoram)
Maruvam (Sweet Marjoram)

Cayenne Peppers
Cayenne Peppers

Banana Pepper
Banana Pepper

Bell Peppers
Bell Pepper

Tadka Mirchi (Chili Pequin)
Tadka Mirchi (Chili Pequin)


Cherry Tomatoes
Cherry Tomatoes

Kakara (Karela, Indian Bitter gourd)
Kakara (Karela, Indian Bitter gourd)
(The vine is following the twine that is tied to the stick in the ground.)

Homemade Vine Support for Vegetable Vines
Homemade Vine Support for Vegetable Vines


Artisan Food

Green, Unripe Mango


Avocado Annam

Chestnut Lentil Soopa

Maamidi Thokku Pacchadi

Healing Herbal Rice

Daikon Radish Kura


Henna with Tea

Henna Plant (Gorintaaku Mokka)
Henna Plant (Gorintaaku Mokka)

“Caldwell Nursery” is a small nursery near our home that sells one of a kind plants, roses and fruit trees. They also have a nice website and keep it updated with latest offerings. After going through the website I made a list. Visited the nursery in March, the planting season in Houston, bought henna and few other plants. The henna was a tiny potted one, but after planting in the ground, it is growing well.

My father in law, the master gardener, who is visiting us from Nandyala, wanted to trim the branches and add some support to help the new growth. As a result, I have a cup full of fresh henna. I’ve added few drops of tea decoction to henna leaves and made a fine paste in a stone mortar. Henna is a healthy herb, not only colors but also reduces the heat of the body. During hot months, what is better than henna to keep the hands and the head cool and colorful?

Henna Paste with Tea Decoction (Gorintaaku Mudda)


Henna at Home

Henna Plant (Gorintaaku)

Henna Leaves (Gorintaaku)


Potent Pacchadi: Allam Pacchadi

Allam Pacchadi (Ginger Chutney)
Allam Pacchadi (Ginger Chutney)

Ginger, one of the oldest and most popular spices in herbal medicines is spicy, peppery and fragrant. It is good both in sweet and non-sweet dishes. It adds a hot yet refreshing warmth to curries and cakes. Ginger is so good to health; our elders devised a great recipe for everyday consumption. That is allam pacchadi or ginger chutney. In this another 100 plus year old recipe, ginger, tamarind, jaggery and dried red chillies are ground together, then to remove the rawness fresh tadka is added and cooked for few minutes. This is a potent pacchadi, usually taken in small quantities and tastes excellent when served with idly, dosa or pesarattu.

Allam Pacchadi (Ginger Chutney)
(makes about cup and half)

Ginger: Fresh and young, thin skinned ginger is best for this recipe. Gently peel the skin and finely chop the ginger. One full cup.

Tamarind: Take two tablespoons of thick tamarind pulp.

Dried red chillies (Indian variety) – 6, small finger length ones

Jaggery: We need about quarter cup of jaggery for this recipe. Pound or grate it for easy mixing.

Take all the above in a mixer or in a mortar. Add half teaspoon of salt. Pulse or pound to smooth paste. Remove to a cup.

Do the tadka: In a small pan, heat a teaspoon of peanut oil. Add a sprig of curry leaves and pinch each cumin and mustard seeds. Also a pinch of hing. Toast to fragrance. Add ginger chutney to the pan. Cook for five minutes on low heat, stirring often. Remove and serve. Stays fresh for a week, when refrigerated.

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

Allam Pacchadi (Ginger Chutney)
Allam Pacchadi with Idly ~ Breakfast Today


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