Cold spice


Many years ago, when my husband and I were at a loose end one Saturday, we decided to go out for an ice cream. My husband heavily recommended a small ice cream shop, whose specialty ice creams were all the rage.

We finally got there. It was a hot and humid day, so it was the perfect day for an ice cream.

The shop itself was small and unassuming. We sat down and reviewed the menu. Exotic ice cream flavour-names caught our eye. And as I scanned the menu, my husband laughed out aloud.

He said, “I know what you should have. The Green Chilli Ice cream.”

“Green Chilli Ice cream?” I repeated.

“You love spice and you want ice cream, so imagine..it’s the perfect combo for you”, said my husband.

I gave in, still not convinced about the flavour. But well, the order was placed and we waited. I have to admit though, that I was a little excited to try it.

Our ice creams arrived. The scoop was a pale green.

I dug into it with the spoon. The cold hit my tongue first, following which the spice of the green chillies spread across my tongue, sharp and piercing, the cold no longer numbing the senses.

My husband looked at me expectantly.

“Hmmm, can’t really say anything, have to eat some more”, I said.

But five spoons later, I was still struggling with the ice cream.

I told my husband that cold spice is not really my thing, though I love spicy food.

Green chillies were never meant to be made into ice creams.

My husband had to eat both our portions, as I ordered another regular mango scoop.

Have you tried any interesting ice cream flavours?

Life lessons from Indian Pickle


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A road-side vendor selling an array of mouth-wateringly delicious pickles, taken in front of Tipu’s Fort, Palakkad, Kerala, India, Picture Credits – Sastha Prakash, http://www.sasthaprakash.wordpress.com

We Indians can pickle most vegetable & fruit,  with our own unique blend of spices, depending on which part of the country one hails from.  In most Indian homes, you can find pickles made from mangoes, raw mangoes, gooseberries, lime, citron, citron leaves, curry leaves, coriander leaves, bitter gourd, green chillies, red chillies, tomatoes, egg plant, garlic, gongura…the list goes on and on.

Like a million other people, I need pickle with my lunch and dinner. Steaming hot rice mixed with pickle and a dash of ghee (clarified butter), a lovely way to start lunch. The wonderful thing about these pickles is that they pack so many tastes in one single spoon – sour, sweet, salted, mind-numbingly spicy (this is my favourite), bitter, or a mixture of all these.

Be warned, Indian pickles can cause sensory overload!

I recently read a recipe to pickle orange peel.  The Chinese New Year is being celebrated all around me, and during this season, Mandarin Oranges are available aplenty.  So, I gave it a shot this morning.

After sputtering mustard in oil and adding a pinch of asafoetida, I added finely diced orange peel to the oil. Once the pieces of peel were well fried, I added tamarind pulp, chilly powder and salt, allowing this whole mixture to simmer for a while.  Once the peel was properly cooked and mashed, I finished by adding jaggery (a coarse sugar made by drying the sap of the palm tree).  The finished product was yummy and looks like it can be eaten with most anything – rice, dosas, paranthas or as a sandwich spread. (Recipe Credit – Ms.Bhama Narayanan)

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Orange peel pickle – hints of sour, bitter, sweet, salt and spicy

As I tucked into my meal with my freshly pickled orange peel, I started thinking  about how our lives can be likened to an everyday meal, & pickles.

Most days, we are comfortable with the way our lives cruise along; the same routine, the same newspapers, the same people at the tube station whom we nod at, the mechanical chores that are unavoidable; this is our comfort zone and we are mostly happy to be where we are, very much like our everyday meals. We are creatures of habit and do not get too adventurous with food, or experimenting with food on a normal day.

However, just like the dollop of pickle, which enhances the quality of what we eat, and makes us experience stronger flavors, our lives are spiced up now and then, when we meet interesting people, experience something different or have unexpected surprises.

These are truly life’s pickles – when we feel more intensely.

However, one cannot eat too much pickle everyday, just like how ‘everyday’ cannot be exciting and wonderful.

Most days are vanilla days…but pickle days, now & then are most welcome.