when i first started writing this recipe, i realised that i didn’t have a direct translation for “pachadi” - a word that is common to south indian cooking, but which cannot be succintly condensed into a single-word definition for those unfamiliar with the cuisine from this part of the world. on a very general basis, pachadi is a form of side-dish that is commonly made from yoghurt and vegetables – similar to raitas. but yoghurt apart, there are other forms of pachadis as well - such as the one i am writing about.
mangai pachadi (translated as “pachadi made from raw mangoes”) is based on a sweet-ish sauce made with jaggery (aka gur/vellam) and green/raw mangoes with a hint of green chillis – needless to say, it brings together a medley of tastes in one delectable dish. i love mangai pachadi and used to pester my mum to start buying raw mangoes the moment they hit the market stalls to make pachadi. normal days apart, mangai pachadi is a must-have on the lunch menu in many homes on the occassion of the tamil new year, which falls on april 14. when made specially for the new year, neem flowers are added to it. the reason this dish is made on the new year’s day is for a special one: with a combination of sweet, sour, bitter and hot tastes, the dish is meant to symbolise the different types of experiences that life keeps sending our way. and just as we enjoy the fusion of tastes in the pachadi, we are to welcome all the experiences - with a smile
1 medium-size Raw/green mango (or 2 small raw mangoes)
100 gms Jaggery
2 tsp Fresh Neem flowers (optional)
2 small Green chillies, cut into slivers or pieces
1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
A pinch of Salt
Ghee, to temper
Making the Mangai Pachadi:
Cut the mango into thin square slices and boil it in plain water until the pieces become soft. Keep aside to cool. Cut up the jaggery into little cubes, add just enough water to immerse the cubes and bring the mixture to a boil – take it off the heat once it starts to boil. Then strain the liquid through a tea filter to remove all impurities. Temper the mustard seeds in about a bit of ghee, add the neem flowers and green chilli pieces and saute it. Put the jaggery-water mixture on low to medium heat, add all the ingredients including the boiled mango pieces and bring to a boil. When the sauce starts to thicken, take it off the heat. Cool slightly and serve.