Friday, July 17, 2009

Nellikai Oorugai - Indian Gooseberry pickle and a question


Whenever I think back of my childhood, I fondly remember the Otaheite Gooseberries (சின்ன நெல்லிக்காய் / Phylanthus acidus/Phylanthus Distichus) tree that mom planted, when we were kids. It was a small tree in our backyard, that bore a million fruits which was more than enough for us and all the kids on the street. Passers by would shake the tree and enjoy the fruits and my mom gladly let them enjoy them. She would make lip smacking pickles out of these berries and I used to eat bowfuls at a time. Yes, bowlful of pickles, when she wasn't home! :) But what she liked more was the storebought Indian gooseberries/Amla (பெரிய நெல்லிக்காய்/ Phylanthus Officinalis / Phylanthus Emblica/ Emblica myrobalan). She'd make pickles out of these too, but these would get eaten just one at a time. :) Although my tastebuds have grown to like it these days. When I was about 12, the small tree was taken down by somebody whose business it was totally NOT, and it just broke our hearts to hear about it. May her soul rest in peace.

Ever since Indira posted about finding Indian gooseberries in Toronto, I kept my eyes open for it. After two yrs of living in TO, I finally found it. Nice, juicy looking gooseberries! I bought a lot to make pickles but we started eating one here and one there. We'd eat one and then drink water and enjoy the sweetness it brings (unlike eating sugarcane where we have to wait to drink water!). Before we knew it, there was none left for pickle-making. :) Then began another gooseberry hunt!

Meanwhile my mom planted another gooseberry plant (Indian gooseberry, this time around) back home in my parents garden in Salem, and it grew lean and tall and started producing juicy gooseberries and mom was telling me all about it. She was making pickles after pickles and looking for new ways to use the gooseberries, whereas here I was still looking for those elusive berries. We f.i.n.a.l.l.y got some gooseberries and made the pickle after 3 yrs of wanting to make the pickles! The wait was totally worth it! And yes, the pickles vanished real quick.

Before we goto the recipe, does anybody know if அருநெல்லிக்காய் is the Otaheite gooseberries or the Indian gooseberries? [Yes, the popular consensus is that it is the star shaped former.]


Wash the gooseberries and steam them for 5-10 mins until they are just soft enough to press them open and remove the seed inside. Don't cook them too long, the pickles gets mushy that way. If you can press it open to remove the seed, its time to remove it from the steamer. I use the steamer basket that came with the rice cooker. Separate the gooseberries into tiny wedges. Use a knife if you have to but I find that they separate into wedges easily. Or you can use the whole berries with the seeds if you like it that way.

Heat 3 tbsp sesame oil in a pan, add 1/2 tsp mustard seeds and let them pop. Add, a pinch of asafetida, the gooseberries, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, 1-2 tsp red chilli powder, salt, 1 tsp pickle masala (dry roasted mustard+methi seeds, finely powdered) and saute for a while. Adding curry leaves, while tempering is optinal. Add the juice of a lime and stir once or twice and then swtich off the heat.. Let it cool down and then store in a glass bottle and use within a week or two. It might have a bigger shelf life, but we never get to test that out at our home. :)

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love nellikai oorugai too. I love this pickle with yogurt rice. Thanks for sharing the stories as well as recipes.

Ramya

Ann said...

We had a gooseberry tree too..nostalgic one.
Pickle makes me drool..Its long since i Had some..your presenta
tion is too good.

Ann said...

WOO! love this with thayir sadham.. yumm. But no idea abt the question

the conflicted cook said...

Though I'm not that much into pickles except the mango pickle, your posts about pickles bring nostalgia. Especially the one about tomato pickle and your mom. We got all our pickles from our grandmother but tomato pickle was the only one that was made by my mother and sent to our grandmother for years. She was very good at it. May be one of these days (ok.. maybe months, years) I can make it and make my mother proud.

Shyam said...

Oh, when you mentioned drinking water after eating one of these nellikkai and how it tastes sweet, I suddenly had a total flashback to when i was 14 or so, and we'd do EXACTLY that at my friend's place! :) Wow, I'd totally forgotten that taste experience, Kay! :)

RP said...

I am doing good.. just got busy with too many things. Thanks for checking. Good to see your new posts. :) How is the little one?

Kay said...

Ramya and Ann, me too! It tastes best with thayir saadam.

The conflicted cook, Do share you mom's tomato pickles please. :)

Shyam, we used to do that too, when cousins get together...Amla, water, amla water. :)

RP, So glad to hear from you. The little one is almost three. Time flies, eh?

Parita said...

I love amla pickle, looks soooo good, i remember my dad used to take out amla juice during winter and we had to compulsory drink it :) oh i loved it with a pinch of salt :)

indosungod said...

Looks gorgeous Kay.
Can you believe it? This is one pickle I don't like. I am not sure which kind is the Indian gooseberry but the gooseberry plant that is commonly found in homes around TN is the small kind and I thought it was called arainellikkai.

Kay said...

Thanks Indo! Indian gooseberry is the bigger round one, the Otaheite ones are the star shaped smaller ones. From what you say, I think the latter is arai nellikai. I love, love, love the star shaped ones. :) Having fun in India?

Kay said...

Thanks Parita, amla juice with a pinch of salt, huh? I might give it a try when I visit my mom.

Vani said...

My grandfather's house in Mysore had an amla tree and we'd do the same - drink water after eating them and enjoy the sweetness. :) Pickle looks great!

Navita (Gupta) Hakim said...

oh thankk u so much for this recipe..i love gooseberries...yum!

Srivalli said...

this looks yum..we have a pickle similar to this with the amla, though the arainellai (smaller star shaped) are mostly eaten as such..I guess every kid would have had that exp right..drinking water after eating amla!..

Kay said...

thanks y'all.

So, the consensus is arainellikai/arunellikai is the star shaped ones! :) Thank you!

Mandira said...

Wow, what a find! The pickle looks great.

Pritya said...

Dear Kay, the gooseberries and the memories...a lovely read!

Shyam said...

Kay - this is a follow-on from your comment on Nupur's blog. Show us how to make holes in medu vada plllllllllllllleeeeeeeeease? :) I dont have a medu vada contraption!

Kay said...

Thanks Mandira and pritya.

Shyam, I'm off to your blog to write notes. :)

Hindu Marriages In India said...

Very good recipe.

Bong Mom said...

Thanks Kay. How is India treating you ?

Nazarina A said...

This is just a fascinating recipe for gooseberries!The more I read, the more I wanted to pop a piece in my mouth!

Malar Gandhi said...

Hi Kay,

Its been a while...How are you?

Nellikai Oorugai, makes me nostalgic...mommy makes them with 'arai nellikai' and thats the one I love.

Hmmm, can't even think about it here...just used cranberries, they turned out fine.

Sheetal Kiran said...

What lovely memories of amla and a fantastic recipe too! My grandmother would dry Indian gooseberries and then do some magic to it ... it tasted absolutely divine whatever it was that she did! I am off to ask my mother after seeing this pickle recipe!

Madhuram said...

Not updating yet Kay? Will call you on Tuesday.

Anonymous said...

Dear Kay
Thank you for blogging this blog and the other one as well.As in one of the comments Bee has quoted 'I bow to thee',so do I.You are such an inspiration.I do want to share some of the many things that you have inspired me to do off late.How can I send you a mail?The contact me link does not open;-)

Asha said...

So so good to see you again too Kay. Happy new year, my best wishes for you and family always. Hugs!:))

Nellikai pickle is so yummy, I used eat a lot in Bangalore, smaller ones too but I don't get them so much here.

Malar Gandhi said...

Dear Kay,

Wish you and you family a Very Happy New Year, may all your dreams come true.

Hugs,
Malar

Kay said...

Thanks dear anonymous, you can reach me at tabtomorrow AT gmail
sorry for not getting back sooner. Life has been very hectic recently. hope you understand.

Sandeepa, India trip was lovely! Three months of pure bliss! :)

Malar, I was on a long trip to India, how have you been. Thanks for the new yr wishes. Happy new yr to you too!

Asha, :) So good to see you here. Thanks and Many Hugs to you too.

wine information said...

At first I thought this was fried chicken chunks. Gooseberries have an amazing flavor, very tangy indeed! Cheers

Gulmohar said...

that looks terrific....Would be best with yogurt and rice.yummmm

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原諒 said...

thx u very much, i learn a lot

Maaya said...

yummy what a great pickle. i love the color and taste.. great combination

Mallugirl said...

new to ur blog.. the story on the gooseberries and mutton soup kept me here for a while. so u are based out of canada?

Kay said...

Mallugirl, yes, we live in Toronto!

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Sharmi said...

You made me go on a nellikai hunt:)

ramesh said...

How do you increase the shelf life of nellikai pickles because it is not available throughout the year.

Kay said...

sharmi, did you find them? of course you'd have!! ;)

no idea, ramesh! we eat 'em all up!

pink dogwood said...

I am going to have to come to Toronoto just to get these :)

Nice blog - happy to have found it :)






Dr.Sameena Prathap
said...

Hi Kay,

Landed on your page just now...Love the nellikai oorugaai...Going to follow you dear..:)

Dr.Sameena@

http://www.myeasytocookrecipes.blogspot.com

Krishnaveni said...

Nellikai oorugai looks very nice, my fav pickle, beautiful picture

Daffy's Dream said...

wow! yummy stuff.thanks for sharing the recipe.

Thanks for stopping by and for lovely comments

GM said...

I have many many good memories of childhood friends with Nellikai ...especially the smaller ones.

Ain said...

wow..sounds scrumptiously tasty..
first time here maheswari..love your space..
awesome presentation with nice recipes..Superb methods.
Am your happy follower now..:)
do stop by mine sometime..

AIn said...

wow..sounds scrumptiously tasty..
first time here maheswari..love your space..
awesome presentation with nice recipes..Superb methods.
Am your happy follower now..:)
do stop by mine sometime..