Recipes Beyond Borders- sometimes Exotic, mostly Healthy, always Delicious

Ingredient: salt

Raw Mango Pachadi with Neem Flowers – Mangai Vepampoo Pachadi

Raw Mango Pachadi with Neem Flowers – Mangai Vepampoo Pachadi

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Memories of growing up, in Kharagpur in West Bengal are filled with images of festivals and celebrations and more importantly, the food that (to us at least) was the highlight of each such day. Every festival meant a traditional meal prepared by my mother with devotion and culinary expertise, and very often, new clothes as well as the freedom to run around the house with friends, playing and getting in everyone’s way. The Tamil New Year’s day or Puthandu, was no exception. Apart from the Neer mor and panakam which we drank by the gallon, one of the special dishes for the banana leaf meal at mid day was the Raw Mango pachadi.

Mango pachadi ingredients -turmeric mustard seeds, mango, jaggery lump, chilli and neem leaves with flowers
Mango pachadi preparation

Made from green mangoes plucked from a tree in our garden (and now of course from the supermarket), dark jaggery, chillies and turmeric powder, the raw mango pachadi or stew was flavoured by fresh neem flowers, fried to a crisp in homemade ghee.

Fresh neem flowers fried in ghee for garnish for Raw mango pachadi
Fresh neem flowers fried in ghee

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Gujarati Kachumber Salad – Colourful 10 minute Summer Cooler

Gujarati Kachumber Salad – Colourful 10 minute Summer Cooler

This Gujarati Kachumber Salad is a no-brainer, and goes with almost any type of meal. Or have it for lunch with a bowl of chilled soup on the side.  You need basic vegetables – onion, tomato and cucumber as well as lemon juice. The other ingredients are optional and can be mixed and matched with whatever veggie is on hand. The salad doesn’t really need a recipe. I used one as I wanted it to be authentic Gujarati. There are similar versions of the salad found in various Indian cuisines, with variations on the way the vegetables are sliced/grated, and which combination is used. Quantities are flexible and can be adjusted to your taste.

Kachumber Salad Mixed salad of fresh vegetables with lemon juice and chilli and garnished with pomegranates
Kachumber Salad Mixed salad of fresh vegetables with lemon juice and chilli and garnished with pomegranates

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Refreshing Neer Mor – Buttermilk with chilli ginger herbs and cucumber

Refreshing Neer Mor – Buttermilk with chilli ginger herbs and cucumber

A few days ago I had re-posted my recipe for Panakam (the delicious jaggery and dry ginger drink for hot humid days) on my social media pages. Among the many ‘likes’ and responses to the recipe for this cooling drink, I was surprised to see how many of my readers asked about the recipe for Neer Mor. Surprised, because Neer Mor is so easy to make that it doesn’t really need a recipe. I then realised that just because something is simple doesn’t mean one automatically knows what goes into it and in what proportions.

Well then, here is my post on Neer Mor, with the recipe card below.

Neer Mor for a refreshing summers drink. Just buttermilk mildly spiced and herbed and with cucumber
Perfect Summer Cooler

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Goan Bitter Gourd Kokum Dal – Easy Indian Lentil and Gourd curry

Goan Bitter Gourd Kokum Dal – Easy Indian Lentil and Gourd curry

My first foray into Goan Cuisine, and it turned out so well! I found a large variety of vegetarian recipes to try out, and wanted to use ingredients specific to the Goan and Konkani cuisines. The Goan Bitter Gourd Kokum Dal that I finally came up with, tick marked all the boxes I set for the post: Tasty, nutritious, easy, authentic and it incorporated the two ingredients I had been set for this month’s Goan Theme challenge from the FB group I belong to, Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge. More about this group, later on.

First, a little about some of the ingredients I used to make the Goan Bitter Gourd Kokum Dal. The recipe I finally firmed up  after browsing the internet and the few cookbooks I could find, needed kokum as well as terphal, a species related to the Himalayan Sichuan Pepper (which seems to be variously known as teppal, tefla etc). I consulted my daughter Mridula as to what the ‘tefla’ in the recipe was (I thought it was a kind of fish!)  I could have tried sourcing the kokum and terphal in one of the many Mangalorean stores dotted around Bangalore, but then opted to buy them online from amazon as I was not sure I would be able to get the terphal spice elsewhere. The rest of the ingredients were ones I already had at home. Bitter gourd or karela is a favourite on my dining table. If you hesitate to take karela because of the bitterness, then do try it in this dish – the jaggery, the kokum and the spice all go to reduce the bitterness and in fact enhance the taste of the bitter gourd. And you know it is chock full of nutrition and health benefits, right?

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Arbi ki Kadhi – Colocasia Root in Yogurt Gravy

Arbi ki Kadhi – Colocasia Root in Yogurt Gravy

Simple traditional food can be so tasty, and often is comfort food for most of us. This delicious Arbi ki kadhi is one such dish. I made it in the Chhattisgarh style, though there is probably little variation in the method followed in most regions of India. The kadhi takes very little time to make and needs just the basic ingredients you usually have at home. There’s very little prep to be done -boiling and peeling the colocasia/arbi is the main ‘task’, apart from slicing onions. After that it is just whipping the ingredients together and putting the kadhi to cook. Curry leaves and cumin add flavour to the kadhi.

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Baingan Badi Sabzi – Curried Aubergine with Black Gram  Fritters

Baingan Badi Sabzi – Curried Aubergine with Black Gram Fritters

Exploring the cuisine of each State in India by turn, is such an enriching experience. This Baingan Badi Sabzi, a delicious eggplant and lentil fritters curry from the traditional Bhojpuri cuisine prevalent in the Indian states of Bihar and UttarPradesh, is interesting to make and has ingredient options that make it nutritious too. The main ingredient is the brinjal or eggplant/ aubergine. This is accompanied by small sun dried badis which seems to have many names – wadi, wadiyan, mangodi etc. The basic ingredient for making a badi is flour – though the flour and spices, herbs to be added differ across regions. I have made a simple Bihari  Urad dhal ki badi, with black gram lentils. The recipe is given in the instructions below.

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Assamese Aloo Pitika – Mashed Potato in Mustard Oil

Assamese Aloo Pitika – Mashed Potato in Mustard Oil

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Venturing further into North Eastern Cuisine, I made Assamese Aloo Pitika, the delicious Aloo Chokha look alike. Simple, very easy and with the mustard oil giving its unmistakable fragrance and its unique character to the dish, I can’t understand why I have not been using mustard oil more often in my kitchen. Its not that I am not used to cooking with mustard oil. In fact we regularly made aloo chokha aka mashed potatoes, with mustard oil and the stuffed red chillies from my husbands village in Eastern UP, and it would taste awesome.

A heap of mashed potatoes with onions, cilantro and green chilli and with mustard oil dripping yellow at one side
Alu Pitika -Assamese mashed potatoes

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Oying Vegetable Stew From Arunachal Pradesh

Oying Vegetable Stew From Arunachal Pradesh

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This traditional stew from Arunachal Pradesh cuisine, Oying Vegetable Stew is simple, easy to make and delicious. There are just a handful of ingredients and no oil or spices are used. What makes the dish tasty is the freshness of the boiled vegetables and the flavours of the chilli and ginger. It healthy too, as well as vegan and gluten free.

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Tomato Peanut Orange Peel Chutney Andhra Style- with Turmeric

Tomato Peanut Orange Peel Chutney Andhra Style- with Turmeric

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You are going to love this chutney! Everyone at home did! Tomato Peanut Orange Peel Chutney Andhra Style – you can imagine the flavours and texture from each of the ingredients! Large yellow and red tomatoes from Lakshmi’s vegetable plot, bright fragrant orange peel, peanuts, chillies and spices and turmeric coming together with an incredible taste. Make sure you use juicy tomatoes for the chutney so that you do not need to add water during the process and dilute the flavours.  (more…)

Nourishing Masoor Dal for the New Mom – with Beans

Nourishing Masoor Dal for the New Mom – with Beans

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Continuing the series of recipes that I started earlier this year when cooking tasty and nutritious food for my daughter after child birth, this is an easy and tasty Dal or lentil stew. As I have said in the post on Cooking for the New Mom on this blog, Tur dal (Towaram paruppu in Tamil) or pigeon pea lentils are to be avoided during the post partum period as they can be difficult to digest as well as can be gassy for the baby. This nourishing Masoor Dal for the New Mom, on the other hand is one of the best foods you can give the nursing mother. Masoor dal is easy to digest and is said to stimulate/ improve lactation, and is rich in iron and protein.  (more…)