Learn to Make Veppampoo ( Neem Flowers) Pachadi
Humans have always maintained ecological balance with nature and tried the best to live in harmony utilizing the best of what the best our nature can offer. Tamil New Year is celebrated with neem flower pachadi. Here is an easy to make recipe.
If you have access to a neem tree, arm yourself with a long stick with a hook, get some adventurous neighbourhood boys to pull down a few of the neem flower bunches.
Once you have got the flower bunches, you have to separate the flowers from the tiny stalks. It is a soothing and calming exercise. Get about half a cup of neem flowers. When separating the flowers from the stems, throw away any small neem seeds you may see. At this time of the year they would still be only in the flower stage. Cut up about three chilies into small pieces. Take a small ball of tamarind and extract the juice.
Take a wok or even better a copper-bottomed kadai (I am averse to nonstick frying pans), add about 2 teaspoons of ghee and saute the neem flowers on a low flame. It will turn a lovely greenish white at first, then suddenly start browning rapidly. Do not let the flowers get burnt. Add a little asafoetida (hing) and the cut chillies. Saute for one or two minutes and add the tamarind water. Close the lid and simmer for a while. Once the chillies are cooked, add a little, maybe about half a spoon to a spoon of jaggery that has been pre-cleaned. Otherwise, melt the jaggery in water and use after straining. Wait till it thickens sufficiently and remove from fire. The pachadi is ready and is delicious as a side dish with rice, idlis or dosas.
If you do not have access to fresh flowers, any ‘country medicine shop’ will stock dried neem flowers. Just buy the dried flowers. They will already be brown and dry, so saute them carefully in the ghee taking care not to burn them.
Courtesy: Ms. Sheelarani of Arogyamantra.