Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gongura Pachadi

The plan was to go visit my brother and his wife this weekend. And so we set off. Loaded the minivan with sleeping bags for the kids, a couple pillows, some clothes and the stuff from the Indian store. The place they live in does not have one single Indian grocery store! And so they usually buy all their stock when they visit us. Now since we were going to visit them, they gave me a tiny list, that included kari patta (curry leaves) and I do know that my sister-in-law is quite fond of gongura leaves as well and so I just bought a couple bunches of gongura as well. Now thankfully I was sensible enough to call my bro when we left the house to tell him that we were on our way. Apparently there was a winter storm warning and he suggested that it would be better for us not to go. Oh well and so we came back home and unloaded everything and I put the perishables back in the refrigerator. So much for our weekend trip!

The botanical name for Gongura is Hibiscus cannabinus and well, I am not sure what the common English term is. I think Red Sorrel leaves.........not sure. Anyway, the leaves are sour like heck and the most popular dish made out of Gongura is Gongura Pachadi, a chutney of sorts, in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh in India.

I was thinking that perhaps I could give the gongura to one of our friends who might actually cook it, rather than letting it rot in the fridge. But I surprised myself by actually going ahead and cooking it myself! My cousin, my sister-in-law and my mom--- all of them gave me one basic recipe that sounded very easy and so I went ahead and made Gongura Pachadi for the very first time in my life!!

 Gongura Leaves

  • Gongura leaves
  • Green Chillies
  • Red Crushed pepper (my substitute for red chillies- I was out of red chillies......)
  • salt
  • oil 
  • I separated the green leaves from their red stems and washed the leaves. I then dabbed the leaves with paper towel to sort of dry them (I must admit that I was a little impatient and so a lot more dabbing would have actually worked better.......).
  • I took a nice big pan and poured several teaspoons of oil into it; note: several teaspoons. And got the heat going.
  • I then threw in the washed and dried (err, sort-of-dried in this case) gongura leaves into the hot oil along with the green chillies and the red crushed pepper. I added salt to taste.
  • Fried everything together. Within a minute or so of frying, the green leaves started to turn really dark. My sis-in-law had told me that it would happen. Good, so I was on the right track!
  • Now my mom had told me to fry it all until the leaves turn crispy dry. However, the impatient me (no, no, not lazy!!) decided to stop frying mid-way. Anyway, this was my first time and basically an experiment, right?
  • I turned off the stove and let the fried leaves sit to cool off. I then transferred it into my food processor and pulsed it a couple times into a chutney consistency. There and that's it! The pachadi was ready and hopefully my experiment was a success!
 Gongura leaves washed and dabbed dry with paper towel

All fried up and ready

Gongura Pachadi ready to be eaten!

The Real Way to Eat this Stuff: 

My cousin P had suggested that the real way to eat this stuff is by mixing it with fresh hot steaming rice, a little bit of ghee (clarified butter) and some finely chopped raw onion. That is exactly how my husband and I ate it. It was pretty darn good! There was that sour thing going on as well as the kick from the green and red chillies. As for the onion-- the crunch totally added a joy-factor to the eating!

So my experiment was successful and guess from now on I shall be buying these sour leaves more often. Oh yeah! And I did not let the gongura rot in the fridge.

Now I gotta figure out what I'm going to do with the four packets of curry leaves that are lying in the fridge!!


Mol1 said...

Ooooh! i shall try this chutney soon. Btw, I use gongura leaves in dal, saute the leaves along with the tadka and add to boiled arhar dal.

Dreamer said...

Aah! the dal idea sounds good. :)