Thursday, March 26, 2009

Happy Ugadi with Bevu Bella (Neem Jaggery) and Mangai Pachadi(Mango Jam)

Happy Ugadi with Bevu Bella (Neem Jaggery) and Mangai Pachadi(Mango Jam)

It was long long ago. So long ago when the whole of south India was known as The Deccan or The Carnatik. Many families from the Tamizh speaking areas moved on foot in quest of their fortune to the Mysore Samasthanam –the erstwhile Mysore Kingdom. With its patronage the families were firmly rooted, and spread their branches far and wide, thus giving rise to a new clan which can be named as the Tamizh Kannadigas.
My siblings and me, were born in the seventh generation of one such family and grew up on the waters of the Cauvery and moulded in the Kannada soil. Though our family retains Tamizh and its culture, it has also imbibed the culture and traditions of the Kannadigas, and I am proud of our hybrid culture.

Today is UGADI – the Kannada New Year’s Day. We celebrate it with great festivity with the Mavu (mango) and Bevu (Neem garlands) thoranas, Bevu Bella (Neem and Jaggery preparation), Mavinakai Chitranna (mango rice), Obattu, and Mangai Pachadi (mango relish).
Bevu Bella
Tender neem leaves, neem flowers and jaggery are pounded in a pestle and made into tiny balls which are swallowed as the first thing in the morning on the Ugadi day. This is to remind us that life has to be taken easy, though it is a mixture of sweet and bitter experiences. The leaf should be dry, otherwise it will become watery - like mine, and cannot be rolled into balls!!
Neem cools down the system and helps in healing it. It also destroys worms.

Mangai Pachadi
Raw Mango – 1
Jaggery – 1 cup
Salt – ¼ tsp
Turmeric powder – 1 pinch
Cooking oil – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – ¼ tsp
Red chillies – 2
Neem flowers ( dried or fresh ) – 1 tsp

1. Peel the mango and dice it into pieces. (Save the peel which can be used in chutneys or in mango rice).
2. Boil one cup of water in a pan and add the mango pieces.
3. Add salt and turmeric powder and cover with a lid.
4. Cook till the mango pieces are tender.
5. Add jaggery and cook till it becomes like jelly.
6. To seasons, heat oil and add mustard seeds.
7. When it splutters add the neem flowers.
8. Add the broken red chillies and add this seasoning to the mangai pachadi.

Savour the pachadi which is sweet , sour, salty, spicy and bitter- all at the same time. It can be relished with rice, dosas and chapattis.