There are so many small things that our ancestors did on a daily basis to remind themselves of the beauty of life. Also they really believed that life has its ups and downs and the key to managing it lies within us.
In this post, I want to discuss a recipe that is used traditionally in south Indian houses for New Year: the sweet mango pachadi (sweet mango pickle). This is the first dish, that people eat before they feast on the rest of the food. Now, please don’t begin wondering if I have started a food blog, No. This dish truly shows what life is and reminds us how to handle it. So, I feel, it fits neatly into the idea of lifefulness.
The pachadi has 6 different tastes, each denoting a different type of emotion. It is called arusuvai in Tamil. It represents the mix of things that life offers and even if one of the flavours is missing, it is incomplete:
- Sweetness from the jaggery – represents happiness
- Spice from the chilli & ginger – represents anger
- Tanginess from the mango – represents surprise
- Bitterness from the neem flowers – represents sadness
- Sourness from the tamarind juice – represents disgust
- Saltiness from the salt – represents fear
It is a bundle of emotions that makes each of us who we are. Imagine having only one of the emotions from the above. How would life be? Very boring! Life is a good mix of things to keep us going. There is an equal need for each of these six, to attain balance. In fact, anger and sadness too are an integral part of our life and research has shown that experiencing and accepting these is important for our psychiatric health, and any attempt to suppress them could lead to issues. Fear too is something that is required at different levels – and excess, or absence, of it could cause trouble.
Having said this much, I would like to share a simple version of this recipe as well for you to try:
- Cut raw mango pieces into small cubes.
- In a pan, add a tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, add a teaspoon of mustard seeds. Allow it to crackle.
- Add 2 green chillis, cut into small pieces, and a finely chopped slice of ginger.
- Add the cut mango pieces and add some water.
- Allow it to boil and add tamarind water.
- As the mango pieces start to get cooked, add half a cup of jaggery.
- Now our last two ingredients, 2 teaspoons of neem flowers and salt. I have used dried ones, you can use fresh ones too.
- I add a little hing (asafortida) as I like the taste of it, you may choose to or not.
Hope you try this recipe and experience the burst of 6 flavours in every bit of it.