So, some time ago, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a beautiful wild lemon, known in Tamil as Gadarangai or Kadarangai, straight from an organically home-grown tree in Madras. While I was thrilled to hold the beauty in my hands, I was clueless about what to do with it. I mean, I have eaten kadarangai pickle from a store-bought bottle, but no other dishes made from it. We haven’t really cooked with the fruit at home, ever.
For the uninitiated, kadarangai or wild lemon is a fruit that is similar in appearance to a lemon, only larger. From the inside too, it looks like a larger lemon, with seeds and all. It tastes like a lemon too, quite juicy and sour. The outer skin is green when the fruit is raw and turns yellowish as it ripens. The kadarangai skin, too, holds a faint bitterness, like lemon peel, but it is safe to cook and eat. This fruit is commonly found in parts of South India, and has a lovely aroma of its own. Thanks to its sourness, is largely used in making dishes like pachadi, pickle and spiced rice. (Check out this link if you want to know how gadarangai looks like from the outside and when cut into pieces.)
There is another variety of lemon commonly available in South India, too, called Citron (Narthangai in Tamil), and Kadarangai is slightly different from that. As far as I know, though, gadarangai and narthangai can be used interchangeably in the same recipes. They are both varieties of lemon, after all!
Well, like I was saying earlier, I didn’t know what to do with the gadarangai, but was thrilled to learn how to cook with it. So, I resorted to the Internet, which gave me a whole lot of options. I decided on a kadarangai pachadi or wild lemon relish, and it turned out absolutely wonderful – fragrant and sweet and sour and burst-of-flavour-in-the-mouth, just as I had imagined it would be. The husband and I ate it with just about anything, from rotis and curd rice to dosas and idlis, and loved the experience.
Now, kadarangai pachadi is commonly made in a kadhai, but this particular recipe advocated the use of a small pressure cooker. Since I was in need of a quick recipe, I followed it mostly, with a few little variations of my own
Without further ado, I will note down the method I used for the pachadi, here.
Ingredients (makes a medium-sized bowl):
1 kadarangai aka wild lemon, chopped into large pieces, seeds removed (Ensure that all the seeds are removed, otherwise the pachadi might turn out bitter. There is no need to remove the skin.)
A small gooseberry-sized ball of tamarind (Use only a little quantity of tamarind, just enough to add flavour to the pachadi, considering that the kadarangai is sour already.)
Salt, to taste
Powdered jaggery, to taste
Red chilli powder, to taste
2 teaspoons, turmeric powder
4 tablespoons, oil
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
A pinch of asafoetida
1 teaspoon urad daal
A few curry leaves
4 green chillies, slit length-wise
2 teaspoons of fenugreek (methi) powder
- Soak the tamarind in warm water for about 10 minutes and extract a thick paste out of it. Do not add too much water, else the pachadi will become watery. Keep aside.
- In a small pressure cooker bottom, heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds and let them splutter.
- Add the urad daal and asafoetida. Fry the urad daal for just about a minute.
- Now, add the chopped kadarangai pieces. Fry them for a couple of minutes.
- Add salt, red chilli powder and jaggery to taste, as well as the slit green chillies, curry leaves, and fenugreek powder. Saute till the skin of the kadarangai starts changing colour, on a medium flame.
- At this stage, add just enough water to cover the mixture. Mix well. Check for seasonings, and add any, if required.
- Close the pressure cooker. Cook for 3 whistles and switch off the gas.
- When the pressure has released entirely, open the pressure cooker. Let the pachadi cool down completely, and then transfer to an air-tight container.
- This pachadi can be stored for a couple of days at room temperature, but it spoils easily when the weather is hot, as it contains water. It is advisable to store the pachadi in the refrigerator if you want it to last a little longer. Refrigerated, the pachadi keeps for 4-5 days.
Do you like the sound of this recipe? I hope you will try it out, too!