Let’s Get Groovy

Okay, so the title to this post is misleading. This is a recipe post, one that I intend as a weekly feature hence forth. We’re getting groovy because we’re trying to cook something a little off-beat (for me anyway).

Today, I successfully made Dondakaya Pacchadi- it was savoury, spicy perfection! Dondakaya is Ivy Gourd, Tindura or Tondli. Pacchadi is a pickle or a chutney. As most of you know, I’m married to a Telugu guy. And I am, well, by Telugu standards, a “north-Indian!” This means that I am clueless about Telugu ways of cooking. Yes, even after seven years of being married, I still haven’t got past the “novice” category in preparing Telugu food!

However, I have noticed many things about Andhra food in the past seven years. For instance, nobody pickles like Andhraites! Folks in Andhra make pickles and chutneys out of anything- vegetarian or not! I have eaten everything from shrimp and chicken pickle to okra chutney!  Vegetable chutneys are a staple in Andhra households. But in my opinion, they are the most brilliant thing about Andhra food! Somehow, this one (Dondakaya Pacchadi), I hadn’t even heard of until yesterday. Though we eat Dondakaya fry quite regularly, the vegetable really isn’t all that exciting. Wasn’t all that exciting…until today!

So here’s how it went. Chandu casually mentioned over lunch yesterday that it had been years since he had eaten Dondakaya Pacchadi. This is understandable as he is married to me! Coincidently, I had some Ivy Gourd sitting in my refrigerator. So off I went Googling the recipe. I found many, and all were quite similar to each other. The beautiful thing about these chutneys (and one that appeals to cooks like me) is that there is a more or less standard procedure for making them. You just vary the main vegetable that goes into it, and voila! You could then do plain rice and yogurt, and the chutney to add that something extra. Or you could use it as a bread-spread. Or eat it with idlis and dosas. Or just lick it off your fingers!

The standard procedure is as below. Pardon the lack of proportions and technique. I eyeball most everything while cooking. If you end up making more than you can eat (though that never happens in our house), store it in your refrigerator and make sure to consume it in 2 days.

  1. Heat oil in a pan
  2. Add cumin seeds, urad dal, chana dal and dried red chillies.
  3. When this sizzles, add whole cloves of garlic, green chillies and the vegetable protagonist of the dish (in this case, chopped Ivy Gourd). I usually also add some roughly chopped onion. Fry it all till it browns.
  4. After it cools, grind it up in your blender with salt, a little tamarind and some water.
  5. Place this mixture aside in a bowl.
  6. Then heat oil in a pan, and add mustard seeds, curry leaves, dried red chillies, and wait till everything sizzles. Add this tempering to the bowl you have set aside.

Eat and enjoy! For more specific instructions and proportions, use Google!  😛  Or use the cooking blog I used today, Sailu’s Kitchen– it’s very good.

Be inspired- make a pacchadi!

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