Gooseberry/ Amla Pickle or Nellikai Oorukai

Gooseberry is one vegetable whose nutrient power stays intact in any form we take them: fresh berries, pureed, cooked, sundried, pickled, powdered or whatever. It is such a sought for item in Ayurveda; which is  used in healing so many diseases and helps in leading an immune, long & healthy life. Intensely rich in vitamin C, Amla does a good fight against common cold and other such infections. Available almost through the year, it is a common man’s inexpensive and natural remedy for hair & skin care. Vitamin C is one nutrient that our body cannot store and use, so we need to supply it every day; pickle is an easy way to achieve this because we can store pickle and consume in small quantities regularly as it is not viable to add fresh amla in everyday cooking.
Serves: NA
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time:  30 minutes
1.      Gooseberry (Amla) – 1 kg
2.    Gingelly oil – 200ml
3.    Mustard seeds – 1 tbsp
4.    Asafoetida – ¼ tsp
5.     Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
6.    Chili powder – 3 tbsp
7.     Salt – 3 tbsp
8.    Jaggery – ½ tsp
9.    Fenugreek roasted and powdered – ¼ tsp
Step 1: Wash, pat dry and steam cook the gooseberries whole to a soft texture. I do not add water or salt to the berries while pressure cooking for 6-8 whistles. This is most of the cooking time; tempering the pickle takes around 10 minutes.
Step 2: Once the pressure subsides and is cool enough, the berries can be taken out and deseeded easily by hands as they already are almost split up into wedges.
Step 3: Now heat Gingelly oil in a kadai and splutter mustard seeds in it, sprinkle asafoetida and add the gooseberries.
Step 4: Add salt, turmeric powder, chili powder, jaggery to it and mix well with light hand so that the gooseberry wedges don’t get mashed up.

Step 5: Once mixed well, taste and adjust spices; add fenugreek powder and mix well. It is added at the end so that the aroma is arrested inside the pickle.

Step 6: Save it in an airtight container and refrigerate for longer storage. Relish with curd rice, parathas, khakhras and so on.
*After cooking the gooseberries sometimes there is some amount of moisture let out by the vegetable; this can either be used in the pickle or be used in a different recipe such as gooseberry soup or so. I prefer not to use it in the pickle as moisture reduces the shelf life of pickle.

Curry Leaves Pickle/ Karuveppilai Thokku

In my childhood days when we were sent to buy vegetables from the local market they gave us curry leaves & coriander leaves as compliments; these days in the departmental stores they seem to be price-tagged separately. In Chennai we still get these as compliments from some vegetable vendors. This seems a very trivial thing but that gesture is a feel good thing because there is an old belief linked to this; they say curry leaves are not to be bought and anyway they shouldn’t be omitted also, so we get them gifted by veggie vendors. Okay, that could be a superstition but a harmless one.  A lot of such accumulated compliments took form of thokku in my kitchen last week. Curry leaves are extensively used in south Indian cooking especially for tempering the dishes and are known to aid in hair loss and premature graying of hair in addition to being a rich source of vitamin A.

Serves:  2

Preparation Time:  5 minutes

Cooking Time:  20 minutes


1.      Curry leaves – 3 cups
2.    Gingelly oil – ¼ cup
3.    Salt to taste
4.    Red dried chilies – 4
5.     Tamarind – gooseberry size
6.    Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
7.     Asafoetida – ¼ tsp


Step 1: Soak the tamarind in luke warm water. Seperate curry leaves, wash and let the water drain out completely.

Step 2: Heat a spoon of oil and sauté curry leaves in it until they become supple & aromatic. Transfer into a mixer jar.

Step 3: Fry the red chilies in the same kadai and transfer it to the jar. Turn off heat. Add soaked tamarind along with the water and some salt to the jar.

Step 4: Once it cools down enough grind into a fine paste, add some water if necessary. Adjust taste as required.

Step 5: Heat a spoon of oil the same kadai, splutter mustard seeds, sprinkle asafoetida and pour the paste into it. Keep stirring occasionally and cook open until all the moisture in it evaporates; add the rest of the oil spoon by spoon.

Step 6: Once the oil starts to separate, the thokku is done and store it in a airtight container after it cools down.

Step 7: This is so versatile that it can be served with idli/ dosa/ roti as chutney or for steamed rice as thovial (sort of a dense curry) or for any variety rice as pickle. 

Milagai Pachchadi

At our home this is one of the regular side dishes that accompany the pongal which is prepared on the day of Pongal festival. We just love it so much for this stimulates our taste buds by rendering a mixture of tastes; sweet, heat, salt and sourness. It is not frequented at home as it is pretty much concentrated and so we indulge as and when prepared. Apart from pongal it goes well with curd rice.

Yields:  1 cup

Preparation Time:  5 minutes

Cooking Time:  15 minutes


1.      Green chilies – 5-10 (depending on the heat of chilies)
2.    Tamarind extract – ½ cup
3.    Jaggery – half a lemon size
4.    Salt to taste
5.     Gingelly oil – 1 tbsp
6.    Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
7.     Curry leaves – 1 sprig
8.    Asafoetida – 1 pinch


Step 1: Heat oil in a pan, splutter mustard seeds in it, add curry leaves, asafoetida and green chilies to it. Sauté until green chilies let out a nice aroma and turn whitish.

Step 2: Dissolve jaggery in ½ cup of water, filter and add it to the pan.

Step 3: Add the tamarind extract, salt and boil in simmered heat until becomes thick. Adjust salt, sour and sweet if required at this stage.

Step 4: Serve with steamed rice or curd rice. This can be stored for few days.


Mint-Coriander-Curry leaves Thokku

Whenever the women of a family is planned to absent for some days from cooking, we have a habit of preparing thokku (pasty pickles) so that people at home can have it with idli or dosa or plain rice or even rotis. As a descendent of this custom, I had made this mixed thokku before my fil’s surgery. I had all three greens and for convenience I had used all of them in this recipe, it did taste well with all flavours felt; generally it is made with one of the three greens in the same procedure.

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes


1.     Mint leaves cleaned – 1 cup
2.     Coriander leaves cleaned with stem – 1 cup
3.     Curry leaves cleaned – 1 cup
4.     Green chilies – 2
5.     Ginger – 1” piece
6.     Red chili powder – 1 tsp
7.     Salt as per taste
8.     Tamarind pulp as required
9.     Gingelly oil – 3 tbsp
10.   Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
11.   Asafoetida – ¼ tsp
12.   Fenugreek powder – ¼ tsp


Step 1: Grind all leaves, green clilies and ginger into a smoot paste with minimum water possible.

Step 2: Heat oil in a kadai, splutter mustard seeds, sprinkle asafoetida and pour in the ground green paste.

Step 3: Add tamarind pulp, salt and chili powder and adjust these three by tasting.

Step 4: Simmer the stove and stir occasionally to avoid burning at the bottom.

Step 5: The thokku is done when moisture in it evaporates and oil separates. Turn off heat when done.

Step 6: Once cool store in a clean and dry air-tight container.


Fresh Pepper & Mango-Ginger Pickle

This is watery pickle which goes perfectly with curd rice. Fresh pepper corn sprigs and mango ginger are available during season and my granny or mom grabs them at every possible chance to make this mouth watering pickle. Unlike most pickles of India that betters on ageing for months, these are eaten fresh say within 15 days or so; the pickle contains water and  the crunch of them is lost in time which could be the reason.

1. Mango ginger – 1 cup chopped 
2. Fresh pepper corn sprigs – 4
3. Gingelly oil – 1 tbsp
4. Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
5. Chili powder – 1 tbsp
6. Salt – 3/4 tbsp
7. Fenugreek powder – 1 tsp
8. Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
9. Lemon – 1


Step 1: Peel and chop the mango ginger into 1/2 ” pieces.

Step 2: Break the pepper spring into small ones with each containing not more than 10 pepper corns.

Step 3: Heat a cup of water and keep it ready.
Step 4: Now heat gingelly oil in a pan, splutter mustard seeds and switch off the stove.
Step 5: Immediately before the heat subsides, add to it the chili powder, turmeric powder, fenugreek powder and salt.
Step 6: When the spices foams up fully, add the hot water and add in the mango ginger & pepper. Squeeze in lemon juice.
Step 7: Mix well and store in air tight container after cooling down.
Step 8: Serve with curd rice.

* Store in refrigerator if using for more than 2 days.