Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Ugadi is round the corner.The rain washed neem trees sway in the morning breeze carrying the pleasant fragrance of the tiny neem flowers. This is the season to collect, dry and store the tiny pearl white flowers for future use. The foremost among the abundant health benefits of neem flower is its ability to improve and protect digestive health. Neem flowers do not lose their fragrance even after they are dried. The flavour of any rasam is greatly enhanced by seasoning it with a pinch of dry neem flowers in ghee.
Neem flower is one of the ingredients in a traditional recipe called Angaya Podi which is included in postpartum diet. The flavoursome, slightly bitter-spicy powder is good for the digestive health of one and all. It is interesting to note that different parts of different plants like seeds, flowers, leaves, berries, roots and spices go into the preparation of Angaya Podi.
Coriander seeds - 1/2 cup
Neem flowers (sun dried) - 1/4 cup
Curry leaves - 1/2 cup
Dried Turkey berries/ Sundaikkai Vattal - 1 tbsp
Dry ginger root - 1 piece
Pepper - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Red chillies(broken) - 2
Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
1.Smash the ginger and then powder it in a mixer.
2.Pass the ginger powder through a tea strainer (to separate the fibers)and keep the fine powder aside.
3.Wash and pat the curry leaves dry.
4.Dry roast coriander seeds, dry neem flowers, sundaikkai vattal, pepper and cumin seeds separately till they change colour and emanate a pleasant aroma. Use medium or low flame so that they do not get burnt.
5.Roast the curry leaves till they turn crisp and start spluttering.
6.Heat one drop of ghee in the pan and roast the broken red chillies till they become crisp and switch off flame.
7.Immediately add the asafoetida powder.The heat of the pan is enough to roast the asafoetida powder.
8.When all the ingredients cool down grind them together into a smooth powder adding salt and ginger powder. Cool the Angaya Podi and store in a clean dry bottle.
Add a teaspoon of Angaya Podi and a teaspoon of fresh ghee to steaming hot rice and relish two or three morsels at the start of a meal. The hot delicious morsel activates the digestive juices and kindles the appetite.