Monthly Archives: March 2009

Sugar and spice and all things nice

In which we remember our blog, our Telugu-ness and our lunch. (not necessarily in that order.)

Mango Rice and Ugadi Pachchadi


Yello. Please note the conspicuous absence of apologies and excuses. I have evolved so much, no?

So we woke up this morning feeling all wholesome, traditional and festival-ey. As this tends to be a bit of a rare occasion we usually like to commemorate it with wholesome, traditional and festival-ey food. And nicely enough, today be Ugadi. As they say, timing is everything. So here we have for you two things —

First, the Ugadi pachchadi, the traditional chutney/mixture combining the six primary tastes (shaD-ruchi) that symbolizes the different experiences that make up life. (Yes, deep philosophy can be found anywhere, you just have to look for it.) The six tastes in question are sweet, bitter, sour, tart, chili and salt. Jaggery for sweet, tamarind for sour, raw mango for tart, red chili for chili and salt for salt. Neem flowers are used for bitterness, and if you cannot find them then please don’t substitute karela/bitter gourd. It doesn’t work. Really. I’ve tried.

The tart and sour thing confused me for a while, but try sucking on a piece of tamarind versus a raw mango and you’ll quickly know the difference. Tart is what makes your tongue click against the roof of your mouth with a ‘tcha’ sound. Yes, that is tart. I think they call it vagaru in Telugu. Its that tongue pricking feeling that is most prominent in baby raw mangoes.

The funda of eating this pachchadi, as mom explains it, is that you have a spoon of this the very first thing in the morning on Ugadi. The first taste you encounter (after the taste of your toothpaste, preferably) determines how the rest of your year will be. I imagine the system can be rigged easily enough by putting copious amounts of sweet, but that’s a whole different ball of jaggery.

The second entity in the picture is the luminescent raw mango rice, that symbolizes the presence of one too many raw mangoes in the fridge that were bought for the aforementioned pachchadi. No, but seriously. Raw mango rice (known as maamidikaaya chaddi in Telugu. No, not chaddi as in what Dada Kondke used to wear. This is the softer d sound.) is truly a work of art. One of the simplest of rices to make (the only thing simpler is perhaps lemon rice) — it combines cooked rice, grated raw mango and tadka (also known as phodni, bagaar, popu, seasoning, whatever-you-wanna-call-it) to create a simple, flavorful dish that is so much more than the sum of its parts. Heavenly, it is.

Anyhoo, if you want recipes, please ask. If you want to eat it, cook it.

Happy new year, Ugadi, Gudi Padwa, Yugaadi, and Cheti Chand to all!