Oct 21, 2013
Pirandai chutney used to be one of the many dishes served whenever brahmins are invited for a feast. When I was very young, I din't know its medicinal value and pirandai chutney used to be the only item untouched in my leaf. Feasts in south India are normally served in plantain leaf. The leaf will be filled with traditional dishes, that are prepared with no onion, no garlic, no mushroom. Varieties of vegetable dry curries, salads, raithas, mixed rice, chutneys, and special sweets etc. will be served on the leaf. We colloquially call this 'elai saapaadu' or 'elai ootaa'.
Total ignorance it was to ignore such a tasty and healthy chutney. Now that I know its value, and the more I long for it, it is not easily available in the city vegetable markets. In my native, my uncle used to bring a bunch of pirandai from the city outskirts where it grows in the wild and pirandai used to be tender and fresh. In my recent trip to native, I made sure that I bought the pirandai. Wanted to try the chuyney in my own kitchen and enjoy all the goodness the plant can offer.
Handling pirandai is not easy. It makes the hands itchy and as a preventive method, gingily oil is applied to the hands before touching the pirandai. One way is to hold the pirandai using a paper and trim the sharp ribs and also fiber is removed. Tender pirandai is used for chutney as fiber is much less and smooth texture of chutney is possible. Using little tamarind in this recipe is highly recommended as it neutralises the itching tendency of this stem.
Before I go to the recipe, let me not forget to tell you the healing power of this stemmed vine.
Cissus quadrangularis or Pirandai as it is called in tamil, is a plant/creeper/herb from the grape family. Its a magic medicine for people suffering from degenerative bone and joint pain. Pirandai is used widely in the country side. Using the tender stemmed vine, this traditional dish called Pirandai Chutney or Pirandai Thogayal is prepared.
This vine, which heals fractured bones faster, is loaded with vitamin C and Calcium. The benefits of pirandai also includes healing digestive problems, breathing problems, cough, nausea etc. It also acts as an appetizer. This chutney tastes almost like heerekai/peerkangai/ridge gourd chutney.
Here is the recipe.
Tender pirandai links - one handful
Urud dal - 2 tablespoons
Dry red chillis - 2
peppercorns - 1 teaspoon
Curry leaves - 2 sprigs
Asafoetida powder (hing) - half teaspoon
Grated fresh coconut - half cup
Jaggery - 1 teaspoon
tamarind - small lemon sized
salt to taste
gingely oil - little
Wash the pirandai. Apply gingely oil in your hands and carefully remove/trim the sharp ridge. chop it to one inch and remove the fiber if its present. Keep it aside. rub your hand with salt if there is an itching sensation.
Heat a table spoon of oil in a kadai and roast the urud dal until golden. Reduce the heat and add curry leaves, peppercorns and red chillies. Fry for a minute and turn off heat. Transfer it to a plate to cool.
In the same kadai, heat a table spoon gingely oil and fry the chopped pirandai. You will notice that the pirandai shrinks and color changes to pale green. Turn off heat and keep it aside to cool.
When the above preperations have reached room temperature, combine the roasted ingredients, pirandai, jaggery, tamarind, asafoetida powder, grated fresh coconut and salt and grind it in a mixie using minimal water. Grind it to a coarse paste (like in the picture) or add little more water to make it to a smooth chutney.
Mix a spoon of this chutney and a dab of ghee to steaming white rice and serve immediately. This chutney does not need seasoning. This is a great accompaniment for iddli, dosa or as your taste permits, even chapathis too.