In the last thirty years of my life I have never seen my Mom hanging out with her friends (like I do) or even making a phone call for a chit chat or a gossip session. She dedicated all her life to us - my dad, little sister and me. Her typical day would be spent cooking three meals in the kitchen and a snack for us to eat when we get back from school and then she will finish the household chores like cleaning, washing, ironing while watching the melodramatic serials on the Television. Amidst all this she never had an opportunity to mingle with friends and She is always her own friend.
But there are few exceptions here and there. Through my Dad's job there are few families with whom we were quite close. While the Men were out for work the ladies would meet for a mid morning chat or a low tea before the kids arrived from school. She seldom participated in those conversations. But occasionally some of those aunties would come home. Among them there was one generous and benevolent Auntie. She lightens up the soul with her broad smile and voluble banter. I simply adore her, for many reasons. Amma and Auntie would exchange the produce from our gardens, home made pickles during summer and other treats while they discuss the worldly affairs. Among the countless transactions, there was one garden fresh tomato pickle that became our family favorite. When the family approved of its greatness and its necessity, Amma had to pick up the recipe from her and put it down in her brown diary. Since then it has been cooked thousands of time in her kitchen and I can always find it on the kadappa (black limestone) countertop or in her pistachio refrigerator.
Unlike other pickles it is very easy to make and lasts 3-4 weeks if refrigerated. For us it doesn't last longer because the man of the house dunks it in idli, dosa, upma or spreads it on top of bread or gobbles it with curd rice. My friends from Andhra enjoy this pickle with hot steamed rice and generous serving of ghee and they swear that there is nothing more comforting than this and so do I.1. And this pickle makes a no mess and best travel food and goes well with Idlis or rotis 2. You can pack it along with other homemade goodies when you are sending away your son/daughter to the Dorm 3. The home alone husband can whip up a meal by pairing it with Dosa or Rice whilst you enjoy your vacation in your hometown. This is cool, huh? I am going to make this before I travel to India so that the husband and his dad can survive for three weeks. 4. When you get back home after a long day at work this dip and Dosa batter can be your savior.
Did I tell you already that it is so simple to make? When the tomatoes are getting mushy in the fragrant sesame oil, prepare the spice powder and the onion paste in parallel. Then cook until the oil oozes out with a sizzle making the pickle shine. So in 30 minutes you have a jar of zesty tomato pickle to delight you for the next few weeks. The copious amount of oil helps the pickle to last longer, so don't even bother about that. And did you know sesame oil is a treasure cove of monosaturated fats and has high Omega-6 fatty acid? It is as good as olive oil plus a long list of added benefits. You are feeling good, aren't you?
- 300 gm or 2 1/2 large tomatoes
- 1/2 cup Sesame Oil
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp Coriander seeds / Dhaniya
- 1/2 tsp Fenugreek seeds / Venthiyam
- 1/4 tsp Mustard seeds / Kadugu
- 1/4 tsp Cumin seeds / Jeera
- 22 Dry Red Chili
- 80 gm or 1 small Onion
- 20 gm or 1 inch Ginger
- 20 gm or 1 gooseberry size Tamarind
- In a skillet or kadai dry roast the spices one by one in a low flame until it splutters and releases it aroma. Allow it to cool and grind to fine powder. Keep aside
- Meanwhile heat sesame oil in another pan, when it is hot add roughly chopped ginger and tamarind. Fry until golden brown. Keep aside
- In the same pan add chopped tomatoes, 1/4 tsp salt and let it cook in the oil until it becomes mushy
- Simultaneously grind chopped onion, fried ginger and tamarind into smooth paste
- When the tomatoes have turned soft and mushy add the paste from the above step. Add salt per your taste. Stir it well
- Allow it to cook until the oil oozes out. This will help the onion paste to cook well and usually takes 8-10 minutes. The trick for long shelf life is to ensure that the oil separates and floats
- When oil separates and pachadi doesn't stick to the pan add spice powder, asafetida and cook for another couple of minutes until it blends well and the oil separates again
- Allow it to cool before you transfer to a jar for storing
- They last for 1-2 weeks if kept outside and will last for more than a month if refrigerated
- Add more ginger if you can take it
- You can also add shallots for a richer taste. I will try that next time