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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

The different tastes forming this sweet sour hot and astringent dish are believed by Tamilians to represent the different facets of life and living and therefore are part of the meal on this auspicious start of the year. Pungent heat from the chilli, sourness from the mango, sweetness from the jaggery, salt, bitterness of the neem flowers and the earthy slightly astringent taste of the fresh turmeric – this is indeed a flavourful dish.

All the ingredients are seasonal and at other times of the year dry neem flowers are substituted for the fresh ones. Most of the ingredients were easy to put together as raw mangoes were plentifully available in the market and I had dark jaggery which would lend a rich colour and flavour to the pachadi. Fresh zero pesticide turmeric powder from First Ago Farms were on hand. The neem flowers though, led me quite a dance. In Chennai these flowers of the neem tree are easily available, either from a tree in a neighbours garden or in the vegetable market.

At Bangalore however, the neem in our apartment was just a sapling and not ready to put out flowers. Other trees in the neighbourhood didn’t seem to have flowers and were anyway too tall to attempt to pluck flowers from them. Our apartment ladies WhatsApp group suggested that I try with the vegetable vendors who sit at a makeshift roadside shop a short distance away. The first visit 2 days ago was promising, as the lady vendor said she would get the flowers for me and to come back next day. Four trips in the hot sun on a dusty road with tearing traffic and no pavement to speak off, and she said she would ‘pakka’ get them for me this evening.

A bunch of neem leaves with star like white fresh neem flowers
Fresh neem flowers for Mango Pachadi

I decided to make the Raw Mango pachadi without the neem flowers, when to my delight and gratitude, my friend Nisha ‘raided’ a tree at a temple nearby and got me a bunch of neem leaves, with, as my friend Kevin commented, star like pretty pretty little flowers. Carefully snipping off the flowers without stalks and leaves, I had my 2 teaspoons full of precious Neem flowers for an authentic raw mango pachadi! If the friendly roadside vendor does get me more flowers this evening, you will very soon see a post for a neem flower rasam, on the blog!

Other traditional recipes :

Panakam – the Jaggery Summer Cooler

Panakam or Panagam: Traditional chilled drink of Jaggery water with dry ginger -specially made for Sri Rama Navami festival - easy, refreshing and healthy
Panakam – traditional jaggery drink

Neer Mor – Delicious Buttermilk

Neer Mor for a refreshing summers drink. Buttermilk with herbs and cucumber
Neer Mor for Summer

Kothavarangai Paruppusilli 

Cluster Beans Paruppu Usili_Paruppu Usili
Cluster Beans Paruppu Usili

Print Recipe
Raw Mango Pachadi with Neem Flowers - for Tamil New Year Yum
Raw Mango Pachadi is specially prepared on Tamil New Year's Day. Seasonal unripe mango, fresh neem flowers, chilli and Jaggery are cooked together and the sweet, sour, hot and savoury flavours meld into this delectable traditional and rustic stew.
Raw Mango Pachadi for Tamil New Years Day in a brass bowl with a tempering of chilies and mustard seeds and garnish of Neem flowers
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Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
cup
Ingredients
Cooking the Mango
Dissolve the Jaggery
Thickener For the Pachadi
Tempering
Garnish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
cup
Ingredients
Cooking the Mango
Dissolve the Jaggery
Thickener For the Pachadi
Tempering
Garnish
Raw Mango Pachadi for Tamil New Years Day in a brass bowl with a tempering of chilies and mustard seeds and garnish of Neem flowers
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. i. Slice mango into even sized pieces, or grate the mango. I keep the peel intact but this makes the cooking time longer, so if you want you may peel the mango and then slice it. Heat water (quantities are in instructions above for cooking the mango) and add the slices of mango. Add turmeric and salt, stir. Bring to a boil and then simmer till the mango is soft and cooked. (about 20 -30 minutes, maybe more if the peel is retained). Once the mango is cooked, if there is water above the level of the mango, boil it away.
    For Mango Pachadi, add mango pieces, turmeric salt to the water
  2. Meanwhile, heat the water (quantities in instructions above for dissolving jaggery). Break the jaggery into small chunks and add. Stir till the jaggery dissolves (about 5 minutes). Switch off the stove. Filter to remove any impurities, and keep aside till the mango is cooked.
    Dissolve jaggery in hot water
  3. Add the dissolved jaggery to the cooked mango. Stir well. Boil on high for 5 minutes or till the mango stew is thick, stirring frequently so that it does not 'catch' at the bottom of the pan and burn. The colour of the pachadi will darken as it cooks. The darker the jaggery, the darker the pachadi will turn. Dissolve rice flour in water and add, to thicken the raw mango pachadi. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Remove from the stove and transfer to a serving bowl.
    Add dissolved jaggery to the cooked mango
  4. Heat oil and add mustard seeds. Once they burst, add green chilli slices. Pour the tempering onto the raw mango pachadi.
  5. Heat ghee and fry the neem flowers on low flame, till they darken to a rust brown or dark red. Pour the flowers over the pachadi. Serve with rice and sambar, rasam and portal. I like it with dosa and chutney too.
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