Coming from a family of pickle experts from Andhra Pradesh, our house was always full of jars of pickles. I have fond memories of waiting up for the loads of spicy pickles to make entry into our house in Chennai all the way from Vijayawada. My Mammagaru (Paternal grandma) would make a trip to our hometown during the summer, just to make pickles and was she an expert or what?! From mango based pickles like Avakkai, Maagai to specialty pickles like Chinthakaya (raw tamarind pickle) and Gongura (Sorrel leaves pickle), she made everything. For an entire month, the only happening work at the kitchen would be preparing pickles. Infact, the whole house would smell of red chillies, dried mangoes and other condiments. My mammagaru did leave on her legacy with both her daughters-in-law (my aunt and my amma) and they have taken upon themselves to be the next pickle queens of our family. If not for anything, I wanted to record this recipe for all the legacy it carries and there are going to be other Andhra special pickle recipes on this blog, very soon.
Moving onto Gongura Pachadi, it is made from Sorrel leaves. One of the popular pickles from Andhra, it is not as tedious as the mango based pickles to make at home. I learnt the recipe from Amma while my parents were visiting us earlier this year. The success of making good Gongura at home is in getting good quality Gongura/Sorrel leaves – the ones that are quite tangy. Amma mentioned a simple test to check the sourness of the leaves. If the leaves wilt quickly on placing in heat, they are bound to be tangy. The only effort lies is picking the leaves and separating the stems. Lucky for us, dad is very good at this job and spent over 2 hours cleaning up the Gongura leaves. When just the leaves are used, the Pachadi/pickle turns out smooth and tasty. This is called Niluva Pacahadi as it stays well for over 6 months when stored in clean air tight container and a clean spoon is used. Gongura is best served with hot rice and a dollop of sesame oil/ghee with a side cut raw onions/shallots – comfort food at its best. *Now that’s a true Telugu girl speaking her heart* 😀
To make Gongura Pachadi
What I used –
- Gongura/Sorrel Leaves, 3 cups (tightly packed)
- Dried Red Chillies, 200 gms
- Gingely/Sesame Oil, ¼ cup (or more)
- Fenugreek Seeds, 1 tsp
- Mustard Seeds, 1 tsp
- Salt, 3 tsp (adjust accordingly)
- Garlic Pods, 6-10 (optional)
How I made –
1. First clean the sorrel leaves by removing them from the stems and washing them thoroughly in running water. Spread them on a clean white cloth and let them air dry for atleast a day. No need to put the leaves in hot sun.
2. In a thick bottomed pan, dry roast the leaves until they are completely wilted and turn dark-ish green/brown color on a low flame. Remove them on to a plate and let them cool down.
3. Mix half of the salt with the roasted sorrel leaves and grind them into a fine powder. Remove onto a bowl.
4. Meanwhile, in the same pan, heat 1 tsbp of oil. Add fenugreek and mustard seeds. As they splutter, add dried red chillies. On a low flame, fry the chillies until they turn deep red. Add the remaining salt. Remove from heat and let it cool down. Grind this into a smooth powder as well.
5. Remove the red chilli powdered mix into a bowl with ground sorrel leaves. Mix them both well together – if required, pulse them together in the blender. At this stage, check for salt. In a pan, heat ¼ cup of sesame/gingely oil. Once the oil is hot, remove from heat. Add garlic pods (optional). Let this completely cool down. Add it to the powdered mixture of sorrel and red chillies. Mix well.
6. Store in an air tight container and use dry spoon. Let the pickle rest for a couple of days before using for better taste. Serve a tsp of it with a cup of hot rice and sesame oil/ghee.
- There are a number of versions of making this Gongura Pachadi but this is how we have been making it at our house ever since I have known it.
- The roasted sorrel leaves once cooled down and mixed with salt, stay well for over a year aslo. The rest of the procedure can be done in individual batches to prepare fresh pacahadi as and when required.
- All the grinding would happen in a large sized mortar and pestle (rolu-rokali in Telugu) which adds to the taste of the pickle. With changing times, mixer-grinders are being used these days.
- Adjust the red chillies as per spice preference. As per the sourness of the sorrel leaves, quantity of the red chillies differ.
- Adjust salt as per liking. The pickle has to be properly salted or else, will not stay for long.
- Salt and oil are the preservatives of this pickle and no skimping on oil either. The pickle must be wet with oil and on storing for 2-3 days, should float on top.
- Garlic is optional but I love the flavor and insist on adding.
- For best taste, Let the pickle rest for a couple of days. Serve it with rice with a side of raw onions – nothing can beat this combo.
- Store it in a glass/porcelain container for longer shelf life.