One chef, one recipe: Mango Pulissery by Pramila Radhakrishnan

Mother to prolific author Sudha Menon, Pramila Radhakrishnan has ensured her daughter’s life was rich with the flavours of good food and great memories. Amongst others, this recipe for Mango Pulissery from Recipes for Life is a classic
Author sudha menon's mother pramila radhakrishnan is a veteran in the world of traditional kerala cuisine, and has now passed down the wealth of her recipes to her daughter and the rest of the world.
Author Sudha Menon’s mother Pramila Radhakrishnan is a veteran in the world of traditional Kerala cuisine, and has now passed down the wealth of her recipes to her daughter and the rest of the world.

When Sudha Menon first thought of penning down Recipes for Life, she solely sought to document recipes that had hitherto only been passed down through word of mouth. One of her biggest inspirations for the same was undoubtedly her mother. 

In her book, the author speaks fondly of her culinary memories and her mother, each recipe preceded by a warm little anecdote. Through the journey of the book, she was able to relive her childhood as well as ensure those memories were never tragically lost to time.

The tart mango-and-cucumber curry, for instance, was born of necessity in the sultry summers of Kerala. It also happened to be the perfect time to gather mangoes, jackfruit, ash gourd and vellarikka-Madras cucumbers. This resulted in her mother and aunts producing ‘one magical dish after the other’ based on the fresh produce available on their land on a particular day.

While most people might recoil at the idea of unexpected visitors at home around lunch, Pramila Radhakrishnan has a different story to tell. Sudha Menon’s amma remembers how the matriarchs would simply fetch a couple of ripe mangoes, roast a few red chillies in the wood-fired stove and voila – you have the perfect fiery accompaniment to a simple rice and sambar meal. 

If you're looking for inspiration to jot down all the recipes from your family across generations, look no further than recipes for life by sudha menon for inspiration
If you’re looking for inspiration to jot down all the recipes from your family across generations, look no further than Recipes for Life by Sudha Menon for inspiration

On yet other days, they would make the same chutney with raw mangoes (chammandi) freshly plucked off the tree behind the kitchen. These made for some great rainy day chutneys that complemented kanjee (rice porridge) made with red, unpolished rice.

While these recipes are certainly personal to the author and her mother, the vast cuisine of Kerala is slowly but surely making its presence felt across India. Gone are the ignorant days of sambar, appam and stew, or dosas. So this recipe for Mango (or Mambazha) Pulissery is a godsend for all looking to explore the cuisine. 

For the uninitiated, it is a delicious curd based mango curry prepared using ripe mangoes, curd, basic spices and fresh coconut. The mild tangy, sweet and spicy flavour profile is just what you need to go with a bowl of plain rice, or any other starch of your preference. Do give it a shot, and make haste to document your generational recipes too! 

Ingredients

  • 4-5 ripe mangoes
  • ½ ltr curd
  • ½ a grated coconut
  • 4 green chillies chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4-5 black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp of red chilli powder, or as per your taste
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 2 sprigs of curry leaves
  • 1 whole dried red chilil
  • 1 tsp of crushed jaggery
  • ¼  kg chopped yellow cucumber or ash gourd
  • Salt to taste

Method

  • Grind the coconut, green chillies, cumin and pepper corns to a fine paste.
  • Toss the chopped ripe mangoes, yellow cucumber/ash gourd into the cooker with the chilli, salt and turmeric powder and a little water and set to cook. Remove from the stove after three whistles, stir gently and then allow to boil on slow flame.
  • Add the coconut paste to half a litre of beaten sour curd and the crushed jaggery. Mix well and add to the vegetables and allow to simmer on slow flame, stirring to make sure the curd doesn’t split.
  • Season with mustard, fenugreek, whole red chilli and add sprigs of curry leaves.

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