Nellikai, or the Indian Gooseberry, is a very potent fruit. It looks somewhat like green grapes, only bigger and round in shape. It tends to be sour, astringent and slightly bitter in taste. The essential vitamins and minerals that it contains are extremely beneficial to the body. This is a summer berry, and is traditionally made into jams, murabba (a type of dried sugar candy), the whole fruit is preserved in honey and eaten as is, made into pickle, consumed as fresh juice, used to flavour rice along with some spices (nellikai saadham) etc. It is cooling in nature, and is consumed extensively during the sweltering Indian summers. As per Ayurvedic texts, gooseberry juice is known to balance all three ‘doshas’ or imbalances of the body – namely ‘vata’, ‘kapha’, ‘pitta’.
So this is a really easy dish that is a fantastic accompaniment to the quintessentially South Indian ‘thayir saadham‘ or rice mixed with yoghurt. Read on for the recipe!
- Nellikai / Gooseberry – 250 gm
- Oil – 1/4 cup
- Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp
- Asafoetida / hing – 1/2 tsp
- Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
- Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
- Fenugreek powder – 1/2 tsp
- Salt to taste
Cooking the Gooseberries:
- Wash the whole gooseberries in running water.
- Pressure cook the gooseberries with enough water for 1 or 2 whistles, until soft. Just add enough water to immerse the gooseberries (about 3/4 of a cup), don’t add too much.
- Now let the pressure release itself naturally. Once cool, drain the water.
Prepping the gooseberries:
- Quarter the gooseberries with a knife.
- When you try to open them, they will open up like a flower, and you will be able to easily remove and discard the seed within.
- Remove the seed from the fruit.
- Repeat the process for the entire batch until you remove all seeds. Each gooseberry will give you four quarters. If the gooseberries are on the larger side, you can get upto 6-8 wedges per fruit, depending on how you cut.
After removing all seeds, use a clean dry spoon to lightly fluff the gooseberries so that any pieces sticking together will come separate.
Making the pickle:
- Heat oil in a pan until hot.Add the mustard seeds and allow it to splutter, add hing immediately.
- Sprinkle salt, chilli powder and turmeric powder on the gooseberries.
- Add this entire thing to the hot oil.
- Mix well. Sauté on medium flame for a minute or two. There is no need to sauté more than this, because we have pre-cooked the berries already.
- Now add fenugreek powder, mix well. Switch off the stove.
Allow to cool for an hour, until it reaches room temperature.
Transfer the pickle to a clean and dry airtight container. Refrigerate the pickle; it will last upto a month if handled cleanly.
TIPS & TWEAKS
- DO NOT refrigerate the pickle while hot. Allow int to naturally cool down to room temperature and then refrigerate.
- Refrigerate and always use a clean and dry spoon to take the pickle out of the container. This way, it will last for upto a month in the fridge, unspoilt.
- If you don’t want to pressure cook the berries, you can cook it covered in a saucepan with boiling water, until the berries become soft.
- Don’t miss adding the fenugreek powder, it imparts a beautiful taste and aroma to this dish.