Monday, June 27, 2011
Certain mundane things can trigger off Memories---and act as a connection with the Past.For me it is the month of June when I connect with my Past---when I preserve Raw Green Mangoes for the year ahead!!This is the most Nostalgic period of the year for me---a tribute to my both my Grandmas!!I feel a part of the ancestral chain each time I perform this task---it's my salute to my female Ancestors!!I follow the Time honoured methods to create these as lovingly as they did--for Love adds the greatest Spice to any Food you cook or make!!
Mummy too made her own Pickles---but this activity would take place in the Winter.This was because she made the North Indian style of Pickles---Spicy Vegetable Pickles with Cauliflowers,Turnips and Carrots,Stuffed Red Chillie Pickles and stuffed whole Lemon Pickle---with the "Kaagazi" or Thin skinned Lemons available in plenty during the Winter.All these Pickles would be cured in the Sun for 10-15 days and would last for the entire year ahead.There would also be a special Lemon Pickle cooked entirely in the Sun---pieces of Lemon would be smeared with Rock Salt,Red Chillie and Cumin Powders and left covered overnight.Sugar would be added to it the next day and a cloth would be tied over the open mouth of the Ceramic Jar or "Barni" as we call it.This would sit in the Sun--religious stirred before and after it's Sun bath every day!!This was exclusively used on the days Fasts were observed--or during a bout of Fever and it's recovery--for Lemon pickled this way has great medicinal properties!!Another Lemon Pickle we loved was made with whole Lemons and Salt----in the Bihari Style!!There were also the Sweet Preserves of "Moraavala" made with tart Indian Gooseberries called "Aamlaa/Aavalaa"in Sugar Syrup as well as Carrot "Murabba"---cooking tiny sweet Red Carrots in Sugar Syrup--both these Sweet items flavoured with Saffron Threads and Cardamom Seeds---makes my mouth water just to remember it!!
In the Summer she'd pickle the tiny Green Mangoes that would fall off the Mango Trees---shaken off by the strong gusts of Wind during the pre-Monsoon Showers.We had 30 Mango Trees in our Garden and she would pickle these whole!!This spicy Pickle was called "Bee-Aambli" Pickle and Salt was the main preservative here though Sesame Oil too was used liberally.As Summer progressed she'd make the North Indian spicy Mango Pickle in Mustard Oil---something I miss as I grow older--for a similar tasting Pickle is hard to find!!Besides there would be the usual Summer Parcel from Poona---sent by my Aaji---choc-a-bloc with home made Pickles,Mango "Moraamba",Mangosteen or "Kokam" Sherbet Concentrate, Dried "Kokam" skins,Split Pigeon Peas,Dried Field Beans, Dried Fish---a true Treasure Chest for us to dig into!!
After my marriage I shifted to Bombay and I learnt the authentic way of making the Spice Powder for various Pickles from both my maternal Grandma Aaji and parternal Grandma Akka----not just that,both of them taught me the Art of Cooking and by following their instructions to a "Tee" today I enjoy the reputation of being a good Cook.I spent most of the last week following their instructions and pickling and preserving 8 kgs. of Raw Green Mangoes--slaving away in the Kitchen over a hot stove.The best compliment I got for it?This morning my grandsons Aseem and Saumil(Shilpa's sons)paid us a visit.Seeing the Jars of Mango Pickle in the Kitchen they unscrewed the lid and inhaled the aroma deeply."Ma, just see!!Komal Aaji has made lots of Mango Pickle for us to carry back home to Singapore---how GREAT is that???!!"