Monday, April 7, 2008

Ugadi - New beginning

Just few days back, I was debating whether upgrade some of the old pictures on this blog. From my very first picture/post, I've upgraded my camera, my photographic skills (not too much, but decent). Since I make some of the recipes here frequently, I can always take a new picture and replace the old one. As I was browsing through the blog, I became nostalgic and I felt like every picture spoke to me and reminded me of when I made that, the family members present at that time, all the details...I realized, I lose all these memories for prettiness sake of the blog. So, I chose not to replace them. After all, on this blog, they are supporting the protagonists, the recipes. :-)
Introspection of past (sans over-pondering) is good as it teaches valuable lessons, no matter how the past was, good/bad/or ugly. But, acceptance is key. I've accepted that I was not-so-great-photographer :-) (not that I excel at it now...) But, hey, every moment is a learning opportunity.
So, as we move on from past to future via present, on this day of Telugu new year, UgAdi, I wish all of you and your families a very happy new year!
Following the tradition, today I made UgAdi PaCHaDi. This PaCHaDi was originally consumed everyday for the first month of the Telugu lunar year. This was done so to ward-off spring related ailments and to boost immunity. Gradually this has been reduced to a ceremonial one day ritual.
The paCHaDi supposed to have all six tastes (as per Ayurveda)- sweet, salty, sour (tangy), astringent, pungent/spicy, and bitter. The paCHadi uses ingredients that are available freshly in the season: neem flowers to impart bitterness, green mango, new jaggery or fresh sugar cane. All of these are fresh in the season.
What you need to make the paCHaDi:
I don't use measurements for this, nor I taste it before offering it in the prayer. 'Eyeballing' measurements comes very handy in making such preparations.
1 medium sized green mango, peeled and chopped fine (imparts astringent and sour tastes)
2 tablespoons "new" tamarind * , soaked in a cup of water (imparts sour taste)
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns (imparts pungent/spicy taste)
1/4 cup "new" jaggery * (imparts sweet taste)
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh neem flowers or 2 - 3 teaspoons dried neem flowers (imparts bitter taste)
Rock Salt to taste (of course, imparts salt taste)
Extract juice from the soaked tamarind.
In a mortar and pestle, crush peppercorns, mango pieces. Add neem flowers and crush again.
Add jaggery and salt, crush to a paste.
Add tamarind juice, mix well.
Alternately, put all the ingredients in a food processor, and grind it into coarse paste.
Variation: Chopped sugar cane pieces can be added to the paCHaDi at the end.
* "new" tamarind and jaggery are the ones that were processed in the very near past, than the ones that were sitting on shelves/panties. Both tamarind and jaggery look paler than their aged counterparts.