Hi Everyone, Happy Ugadi to you all. We at home, celebrate all South Indian festivals, as each state has been a part of my life in different stages of my life. Ugadi is closest to my heart, because of its ritual of making “Ugadi Pachadi”, which has a very close semblance to our everyday lives. The pachadi is a culmination of five different flavours which our palette can immediately identify and appreciate as we tend to see how closely it resembles our life, which is filled with so many sweet, sour, bitter and spicy memories.
Ugadi, or The New Year for the Telugus, Kannadigas and Maharashtrians is celebrated on the first day of the Hindu Lunar calendar month of Chaitra.
This marks the beginning of spring, welcomed with trees full of fruits and flowers in full bloom. Mangoes are just entering the market for the year. Ripened chillies from January are dried and sacked for sale , vegetables look fresher than ever, and gourds of all sizes and forms decorate the market floors.
This year, I am at my mom’s place for Ugadi. I won’t miss the chance to go to the market to re-live my childhood memories of going vegetable shopping with my dad. So me and my hesitant other half Mahesh started off to the market with my dad.
We were welcomed with markets full of green neem flower bouquet , raw mangoes plucked rather young, mango tree leaf bunch, fresh vegetables, ash gourd in heaps, small tender pumpkins, and some left over “Pandumirchi” fresh red chilly as it is the last of its season.
We got some fresh palm jaggery, dark brownish black colour which is made locally. Did you know how it is made ? Palm jaggery is made from the sap of the tree. The sap is collected from top of the tree for few hours a day and the pure sap is boiled and poured into moulds to make the nutritious palm Jaggery. Easy as it sounds when I write, it takes a man to climb a 90 ft tree twice a day to collect a 250 ml of the sap from one tree. The sap is collected in mud pots tied up on top of the trees while the sap falls in drops as small as a tear from the eye.
Neem flower bouquets exchanged hands for a mere Rs.10/- . This was the smell of summer holidays, the sweet and tart smell of the new blossom all over town from my childhood. My mom had picked up the fresh neem flowers from our backyard, so we moved on to the next vendor selling Tamarind.
The tamarind lady had three varieties of tamarind, which has been beaten down with salt. Do you know why they do that ? It is to free the fibre from the pulp of the tamarind and remove the seeds well. I picked up a kilo of that for my kitchen back home. We all drove home with the supplies while my mom was busy in the kitchen and kids were getting dressed for the day.
We stopped by for a swig of fresh coconut water from a vendor as the heat was slurping our energy silently. The coconuts were half the size of the usual once, as if we had asked for a by 2 coconut by mistake.
My dad made the Ugadi Pachadi as he had done all these years. My mom prepped the plate with all the ingredients and we all surrounded him to see the making of it. Well it takes just 3 minutes, once the ingredients are all ready..
Ugadi Pachadi is made with a few spoons of jaggery, a pinch of salt, a few piece of sour mangoes, a teaspoon of bitter neem bloom, a hint of green chilly spice, a piece of tart tamarind pulp and a small piece of dates to adjust them all.
We all had a spoon of it as Prasadam, affirming our lives to be filled with lots of sweet, a bit of sour, a hint of bitter, a taste of tangy and dash of spicy memories as always.
Here is the recipe for Ugadi pachadi.