Friday, June 07, 2013

The Things I Don't Really Crave/Eat But Relish Making

Sometimes, I don't quite know why I do the things I do.

Sometimes I buy maida to make cake to get rid of extra fruit, and then I am stuck with the maida so I make more cake after letting it sit in the pantry for months.

I made marmalade last year simply because my uncle and I had a conversation about thick-cut marmalade and it seemed very romantic to make marmalade. Of course, it wasn't.

I don't really crave these things, leave alone eat them. Today, I gave away the marmalade to a friend who invited me for lunch.

Then, overtaken by an overwhelming urge to have some Andhra-style bobbatlu (poli/holige) after Ugadi went by, I used the last of the maida from God knows when to make them. I don't think I've kneaded dough in the last 14 or 15 years, if I ever did. But I plunged into it, literally. At one point, I couldn't extricate my hand from the dough, I couldn't even find it, it got stuck in it. A frantic call to a friend then had me adding ghee to the dough and rescuing my hand. I managed to make the bobbatlu which turned out better than I expected for a first-time attempt and earned appreciation from The Spouse and The Refuge of Failed Experiments (aka The Office).

The next day I attempted another batch but of course by then I had tired of the whole thing so I kneaded the very last of the maida, a little more ghee and the filling together and made sweet rotis.

Convinced I could now make chapatis, also something I don't really crave or eat, I bought a packet of wheat flour which is now resting unopened in my pantry. I was reminded of it today when my friend, who had me over for lunch today, mentioned the cooking classes she had been attending and a keema khameeri paratha (there was a fourth word in the name, I've forgotten) and offered to give me the recipe. I didn't rise to the challenge as I did in the above instances. I declined. The wheat flour will probably be given away soon.

A few weeks ago, my colleague treated us to a lovely green mango jam-kind of affair. She called it 'paagu manga, Tamil for 'mango in syrup'. It was all gold and languid syrup, and the mango pieces had a great texture, having lost their crunch after boiling but having acquired toughness and shape after stewing in the syrup. This was her grandmother's recipe from long ago, she said, and they used the relish as an accompaniment to curd rice, dosas and chapatis.

Of course, I had to make it, though I draw the line at eating it with curd rice and dosas. Having seen people eating chapati and jam in the hostel, I am more open to the thought of eating it with chapatis. I'm not saying I will, just that I'm less resistant to that idea.

About two weeks ago, I went home to visit my folks and came back with four green mangoes. I used one for dal, one is still in the fridge and I used the other two for this.

There are many notes below the ingredients and the method as I messed up somewhere, and had to do a lot of repairing, but let's get the basic recipe out of the way.

The ingredients

1 cup mango - 3/4 cup of sugar (that's the proportion - I used two mangoes, peeled and cubed)

Some honey

Some powdered cardamom

A smidgen of salt (my touch - optional)


Boil the peeled and cubed mangoes in water just enough to cover them. For just three minutes and drain them immediately. Dry them on a cloth for a few hours.

Then make a one-string sugar syrup and I did, with help from the Internet.

Put the mango pieces into the sugar syrup and let them soak for a few hours.

In the evening, stir in some honey, tasting as you go along, and the salt and powdered cardamom.

My experience

After I boiled the mango pieces for three minutes, they became soft, I didn't know if they would hold their shape at all.

The sugar syrup turned to a hard sheet of sugar at the bottom of the bowl and was all liquid on top - maybe the mangoes had oozed liquid as well but they were swimming in more syrup than I had made in the morning.

I was tempted to throw it out but I let it stay in the fridge for about five or six days during which I sought repair advice on Facebook and got a few suggestions, of which I took one - fish out the mango pieces with a slotted spoon, drain off the liquid and melt the sheet of sugar. When I did that, I ended up fishing out very little sugar so I added a splash of water and heated it. It caramelised and I abandoned the attempt.

Sitting in the fridge, the mango pieces seem to have absorbed some of the sugar and attained a texture somewhat similar to my colleague's own paagu manga.

I simply added some honey and the cardamom and salt to the mangoes. It looked runny and I was disappointed again, but I resolved to let it stay in the fridge for a few days.

It seems to be thickening.

I ate with my popped amaranth cereal for some texture, it wasn't enough to sweeten it, though.

All in all, I am very taken with its process of maturation.

How, or whether, I will eat it is another thing entirely.


  1. I make loads of things here at home which i don't crave or eat. Maybe i should say I make things here at home which i don't eat as i don't like to eat them but then make for family.
    You don't make chapathi's at home.
    Never had this, but i think i will like it as they are made with mangoes :-)

    1. Finla, I should have said neither of us crave or eat these things. :-D

  2. I did this last year when I went overboard with pickle and jam/ preserves making! I have learnt my lesson. I'm making only small jars of them this year, if at all! :)
    However this mango "chutney" is calling to me.............

    1. Aparna, I resisted the temptation to use a third mango! I just have about 2 cups of this. And it's quite tasty, only I don't crave it.

  3. Happens to me very often, Sra. Last week, I bought a boxful of semi-ripe alphonsos. Now they have all ripened at the same time.smells great and tastes great and all that, but I don't seem to be making a dent in the stock. Soon you will see a post on the blog for kulfi or ice cream or something like that once I decide what to do with the mangoes.

    1. Exactly!

      In fact, I have two ripe mangoes and one watermelon from last week still in the fridge and no wish to taste them!

  4. :-D

    At least it makes for good laughs!

    What you have is very similar to the North Indian murabba - now, don't ask me how it is made!

    I envy you your wheat-flour-free life! I live with roti-loving folk. Left to myself, there would be very little wheat flour in my life! When I was a grad student on my own, I ate roti maybe a couple of times in a year! You have a good reason to stay away, of course! If you need help extricating your hand from the devil dough! That was LOL funny!

    1. Anita, I looked for murabba recipes before I set out on this adventure because I had only had an oral recipe to go by. None of them were exciting nor did they seem to mention the jammy consistency of the sugar syrup and thickening and all that.

      It was downright frightening to get my hand stuck in the dough! I managed to set it free the first time but not the second, not till I called my friend and she told me to add more ghee!

  5. Sra, funny story and made a great start to my day :)
    We grew up eating hardly any wheat flour stuff at all. Maybe the occasional Sunday pooris that is all.

    Maybe now I have good reasons not to buy maida at all. I use the whole wheat flour for making everything. No body seems to notice. I have seen paagu nellikai(the small kind) which tastes heavenly.

    1. Indo, thanks! Here we get a dry, sweetened nellikai in plastic pouches nowadays, I don't know how they do it but it's nice.

  6. Loved it, Sra!

    I remember trying a lot of recipes and usually begetting disasters, which, fortunately, often taught me something.

    I laughed out loud at 'Refuge of Failed Experiments' but it is true. I'd take to office cakes the family would refuse to eat, perfectly good ones, and there'd be only crumbs on a plate a few minutes later.

    Btw, the fastest disappearing act occurred when I took a bottle of homemade grape wine to office for Christmas. And a colleague insisted I sell her my bottle of apple wine - first ever sale of any food/beverage item. And afterwards the guys in office will boost your confidence some more with sweet compliments.

    1. Hi Anna, finally managed to reply to your comment, couldn't get into my own comments all these days!


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