Category: Lemon/Lime

Red Chilli Pickle (Pandu Mirapa Uragaaya)

Gloves and Kerchief
caution ahead

Chillies play an important role in Bharath bhojanam. Their haunting vigour is celebrated in a variety of preparations. Legendary among them is the Red chilli pickle from Andhra Pradesh. Known as Pandu Mirapa Uragaaya in Telugu, it’s ripe chillies raw glory. There is no cooking or simmering of chillies like in hot sauce. Chillies are ground and their potency is enlivened by salt, lemon juice and pungent methi. This stomach scraper’s fiery nature and daredevil attitude has a cult like following in Andhra. I was not a big fan until my thirties. Blame it on mature palate or hard life lessons digested over the years, now I am a blissed-out believer in uragaaya mahatyam. If keen on exploring this chilli extreme, you may reason that chillies are loaded with vitamin C in a chirpy, holier-than-thou healthy way.:)

Because we don’t get Guntur chillies here in Houston, I prepared the uragaaya with Mexican native Serrano Chillies. Ripe Serrano chillies are bright and biting with a delayed flavor fuse. Just the right variety for Andhra’s Pandu mirapa uragaaya.

Ripe Serrano Chillies and Juicy Limes for Red Chilli Pickle

Red Chilli Pickle (Pandu Mirapa Uragaaya) from Andhra

1. Rinse the chillies clean in plenty of water. Drain, and blot dry with a kitchen towel. Spread the chillies on a paper and air-dry for one hour under hot sun.

2. While chillies are drying, in the meantime, prepare the pickle ingredients.
– Heat a skillet. Add methi seeds and on low heat, slowly roast to light brown and fragrant. Remove from heat and when they are cool, take them in a mixer and powder to fine.
– In the same skillet, heat sesame oil on medium heat. When oil is hot, add urad dal and stirring constantly toast to red. Add mustard seeds. When seeds start to splutter, add hing and methi powder. Toast for a minute. Remove the skillet from heat and allow to cool completely.

3. Back to chillies now. Bring them inside. Wear gloves and cover your nose with a handkerchief. Remove the chilli stems. Chop. The smaller the cut, the easier it will be to blend. Place the cut chillies in a clean and dry, stone-grinder or food processor. Add sea salt. Grind to fairly smooth consistency. Do not add water. It will spoil the pickle. Moisture in ripe chillies is enough and mix with a spatula in-between for easy blending.

4. Take the ground chilli in a clean ceramic or glass bowl. Add the hing tadka and pour the lemon juice. Mix well. Keep the bowl on the countertop where air circulates freely, loosely covered for about a day.

5. On the second day, store the chilli uragaaya in a clean jar. Keep an eye on the pickle for a week. Usually enough salt and limejuice will rectify any potential spoilage.

This no-cook, raw style chilli uragaaya stays fresh from six months to a year as long as pickle precautions are taken (no wet spoons, moisture/humidity).

We can serve this pickle immediately but the pickle matures and tastes much better with age. Apply it on idly, dosa, pesarattu, spread on pav-wiches, Mix some to perk up the sauces or simply mix and eat with rice/roti. It’s good to have some chilli pickle company on those cloyingly sweet days.

Red Chilli Pickle (Pandu Mirapa Uragaaya)
Ready to Eat ~ Red Chilli Pickle (Pandu Mirapa Uragaaya)

This pickle is also prepared with tamarind instead of limejuice.
Telugu to ingleesh: Pandu = Ripe, Mirapa = Chilli, Uragaaya = Pickle


Nimma Uragaaya of Nandyala

Last weekend, we went to Houston’s wholesale produce market called Canino Farmer’s Market for mangoes. In the market, limes were also available abundant. Key limes were 30 for a dollar and Persian limes were 20 for a dollar. I bought 60 key limes and 20 Persian limes for a total of 4 dollars.

Key limes are small sized, Indian type limes with relatively thin skin, so they are great for pickle base. Persian limes are seedless and full of juice, good for pickle juice. I made same kind of preserve last year with key lime and Persian lime combination and it was wonderful, both size and juicewise for nimma uragaaya.

The pickle I have remaining from last year lasts for just another few weeks. Now the weather is right, ingredients are right and it would take at least two months for key lime’s eye-crossing bitter-sourness to mingle with other ingredients and mellow. I know now, why our folks craved making these pickles year after year, every year. They are comfort food, particularly during cold, winter months. What also attracts me more is the texture, the color and the aroma. The whole process is addictive and enthralling.

Key Limes for Nimma Uragaaya

Nimma Uragaaya:
For detail recipe directions – click here.

Prepare 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 nimma uragaaya.

    60 keylimes – wash, dry with a towel and sun-dry for an hour. Then, cut into quarters.
    20 persian limes – Wash and wipe off the moisture. Cut and squeeze juice. We need at least 3 to 4 cups of limejuice. The more juice we add to uragaaya, the tastier the uragaaya will be.
    cups, iodine-free salt or sea salt
    1 cup, red chilli powder
    1/8 cup, methi seeds – roast to red in an iron skillet on low heat. Cool and then powder to fine.
    Pickle Popu: Heat two tablespoons of peanut oil. When oil it hot, add quarter teaspoon of hing. Toast for couple of seconds to fragrance. Turn off the heat. Keep aside to cool to room temperature.

1. Pour salt, red chilli powder and methi seed powder over key lime pieces. Mix well with your clean, dry hand or big wooden spoon.

2. Pour lime juice and pickle popu over keylime pickle. Mix well. Spoon into a ceramic or glass jar. Keep the jar loosely covered with a non-corrosive lid. Place the jar on the kitchen countertop where air circulates freely. Mix once a day with a dry, wooden spoon, for a week.

3. Cover loosely and leave the pickle undisturbed for a month. With time, the skin softens and nimma uragaaya achieves a special mellow sourness with echoes of ancient world.

Nimma Uragaaya will keep for several months to a year without refrigeration.

Nimma Uragaaya
Nimma Uragaaya Worship with Salt, Chilli Powder and Methi Powder

Nimma Uragaaya
Nimma Uragaaya ~ Comfort Food for Winter Time


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.


Ginger Lemon Soopa

I am glad to see a new word “soopa” reintroduced into our cookery lexicon by Pratibha and Jigyasa through Sukham Ayu cookbook. Like the authors I found it interesting that ayurvedic texts refer to watery broth/soup like preparation as soopa. Research is done rarely in centuries old Indic cookery. We are more used to label our food items in occidental and arabic terms, and blindly repeat the colonial self-aggrandizing stories of our food roots. So, for a change, it is greatly refreshing and empowering to know about soopa. I think this Sanskrit word alone is worth the book price. Original research equals to precious gold, don’t you agree? Welcome back Soopa. Goodbye Soup.

Here is a soopa I made from Sukham Ayu. The base is toor dal and the flavor is from ginger and lemon. It’s a familiar, charming soopa, simple yet sublime. Perfect to usher in “I am not cold but not yet warm” spring season.

Ginger, Lime, Toor dal Ginger Lemon Soopa

Ginger Lemon Soopa
Recipe adapted from Sukham Ayu, page-37
(makes about four cups of soopa)

Toor dal: Pressure-cook half cup of toor dal in two cups of water to soft. With a wood masher or whisk, churn the dal to soft, smooth consistency.

Ginger: Take a 1×1 inch piece of ginger. Peel the skin and grate. Add the grated ginger to mashed toor dal. Also half teaspoon each- red chilli powder and salt, and quarter teaspoon of turmeric. Add half cup of water and simmer for about 10 minutes on medium heat.

Tadka: While the soopa is simmering, do the tadka. In a small pan, heat a tablespoon of ghee. Add and toast 10 curry leaves, cumin, and mustard seeds, in that order. When seeds start to pop, sprinkle a pinch of asafetida. Sauté for couple of seconds and pour this tadka into the simmering soopa. Mix and turn off the heat.

Lemon: Flavor the soopa with about 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Serve hot. Soothing and a strength saver, ginger-lemon soopa is a great warm-up food and recommended during convalescence.

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari


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