My grandmothers grew up about 30Kms apart in 2 different villages both in agro families but their cooking styles and lifestyle in general could not have been more different. My maternal grandparent's family is pure vegetarian, nope not even egg, whereas my paternal grandparents family grew up eating whatever dared to move. Well not everything but you get the idea. Both Kongu women born, brought up and married and lived within a 50Kms radius of each other but if you have them cook something both dishes though theoretically the same would taste very different. Hence my reluctance in making claims of authenticity or traditionalism. Authentic or traditional to one's own family perhaps but that is probably how far the claim can go.
I remember more of my maternal grandmother's (a.k.a ammayee) cooking because, one: she still lords over her kitchen at a ripe age and hence having spent a lot more time in her kitchen and watched her cook and having learned most from my mother who carries her own mom's style of cooking of course.
cut green mango
My paternal grandmother (a.k.a aatha) on the other hand left to live with my uncle after my grandfather passed away while I was still in college. When I really started paying attention to how food I ate was cooked aatha had stopped cooking regularly. But she pitched in other ways, by making notes, cooking tips jotted down on pieces of paper or old diaries.
rice mixed with pickles
As for the cooking styles my ammayee's is more nuanced and very succinct whereas aatha's very rustic and very creative. She paired items that normally nobody would have thought to do but in hindsight always made sense. What I particularly remember are her pickles. We always had bottles from ammayee which can be neatly categorized as mango, garlic, lemon and a mixed vegetable pickle would be precisely that with mixed vegetables. Aatha's pickles on the other hand were hard to categorize, lemon pickles did not have just lemon, mango pickles did not have just mangoes and in a way all of them were mixed vegetable. The lemon pickle had green chilies, ginger(thanks to Cilantro for reminding me, the mango ginger or ma inji was as far as I knew only used by aatha), garlic and green pepper corns, the mango pickle had lemon juice, garlic and green chilies. It did not have too much red chili powder the taste came mostly from the green chilies, garlic or ginger. Her pickles were a lighter shade and very fragrant. Some of her other pickles like magali kilangu pickles made with sour buttermilk as one of the ingredients have been just her speciality, I know of no one who has even attempted it.
So when I chanced upon this mango pickle recipe in this delightful blog whose contributors are college pals there was no looking back. I had picked up the mangoes earlier in the week to try out one of who else but ammayee's recipes. The pickle rather reminded me so much of aatha. The combination of ginger, garlic and green chilies along with the mangoes looked like something she would make.
Recipe Inspiration: Kaduku Manga Achar
Instant cut mango pickle with ginger, garlic and green chilies
1. 1 Firm green mango cut into small cubes - 2 cups worth
2. 6-8 garlic cloves chopped into small pieces
3. 1 inch piece of ginger sliced into thin sticks (julienned)
4. 8 green chilies sliced into small rounds
6. juice from 2 limes/lemons - a little less than 1/2 cup
7. distilled white vinegar - 1/4 cup (optional, did not have enough lemon juice so added a bit of vinegar)
8. 1 tbsp pickle masala powder or red chili powder
9. 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
10. 1/2 tsp fenugreek/methi seeds
11. a small tiny piece of asfoetida (1/4 tsp)
12. mustard seeds
13. 1/4 cup of sesame oil
14. salt - 1/2 tbsp or as per requirement
1.Roast the methi seeds and asfoetida and make a fine powder.
1. In a kadai or wide mouthed pan, heat the oil and when hot add the mustard seeds and let them splutter
2. Now add the ginger, garlic and green chilies and let them cook for 2 minutes
3. Add the turmeric, chili and methi powders. Give a good mix for 30 seconds
4. Add the lemon juice and let it come to a slight boil. Switch off the heat and add the vinegar if using.
5. Add the mango pieces and salt and mix. Let cool and transfer to a glass jar.