Mooli Ka Achaar/ Mullangi Urugai (Indian Style Daikon Radish Pickles)
I don’t watch a lot of television, though I can spend 2 or 3 hours straight in front of it on occasion when there’s something really good showing. One habit I have never managed to develop is watching serials, whatever language they might be in. A lot of serials on television, both English and Indian, are best left alone considering they seem to meander along without a halfway decent plot in a manner that I can only describe as “flogging a dead horse”. Of course, I’m not talking about travel or food shows though there are a few of those I would avoid.
In the past, the really good serials always seemed to air at times when I had to cook, take care of something, or it was dinnertime! So I never watched those regularly because I was always missing out some critical part of the story and the rest didn’t make sense.
Nowadays that I have more time to spare, either there isn’t anything worth watching when I am free or I don’t seem to enough patience to watch a lot of the stuff that is being shown on television despite having a hundred channels to view.
I still haven’t figured out why I don’t seem to particularly enjoy many of the popular series that a lot of people keep talking about like The Simpsons, The Office, Friends, Sex And The City, Desperate Housewives, to mention a few. I'm not being judgemental here, about television series or who watches what but just saying how it is with me.
However, I do remember watching a particular episode of Friends where Phoebe was singing one of her off-key compositions while strumming her guitar. It was something about a “smelly cat” (huh?) and somehow that’s what came to mind when I saw the bunches of garden fresh “mooli” (Daikon radish) sitting in my kitchen. What I meant was that I knew if I didn’t cook them up into something they were likely to “not be a bed of roses and not friend to those with noses” as that song goes!
I have since found that if you can manage to get hold of farm/ garden fresh and tender mooli/ Daikon radish, the “smelly cat” description doesn’t hold at all. You can also use the green leafy part to cook up a nice stir-fry to serve on the side with your lunch.
Somehow, the “mooli” or “mullangi” as we call it at home, never featured much I my childhood. Except for the occasional appearance in mullangi sambhar ( a gravied spicy lentil preparation) where the vegetable even if it smelt a bit funny lent the sambhar a most interesting taste.
This was probably because this vegetable was more of a North Indian winter vegetable which wasn’t grown in the Southern parts of the country. In Goa where we live now, this is a vegetable that you cannot escape wherever you go in the market during the season for it. It even comes to my door, as my vegetable lady will insist on trying to sell it to me even after I have told her that no one likes it in our home.
The only way mooli gets eaten in our home is disguised as parathas (stuffed Indian flatbreads). Since there is only so much of mooli parathas one can eat in a week, I decided it would be a good idea to tuen it into pickle, preferably of the non-vinegar kind. A natural conclusion since I hadn’t yet recovered from my pickle making high. A net search and asking some of my pickleexpertblogger friends led me to various recipes where vinegar invariably seemed to find its way in.
So I did the only thing I could in the situation. I came up with my own pickle recipe which a bit South Indian (curry leaves, asafoetida and sesame seed oil), a bit North Indian (well, the mooli and amchoor which is dried, powdered raw mango and a souring agent) and just a bit of this and that which all added up to a rather interesting sweet, sour and spicy pickle. AIf you would like to try it out here’s the recipe.
- rim the leaves and ends off the Daikon radish and wash them. Dry very well, peel and then cut them into roughly inch long pieces about 1/4" thick.
- In a wok, heat the 1 1/2 tbsp sesame oil and stir-fry the Daikon radish pieces on high heat, adding the salt, till they’re half cooked and still crisp. Remove from the wok and keep aside. In the same wok, heat the 1/8th cup oil and let the mustard seeds splutter in it. Turn down the heat and add the asafoetida powder and the curry leaves and stir a couple of times before turning off the heat.
- Once the oil has cooled down a bit, add the turmeric powder, amchoor powder and chilli powder and mix well. Now add the stir-fried Daikon radish and the powdered jaggery. Mix well and allow the pickle to cool completely.
- Transfer to a sterilised glass jar with airtight lid. Refrigerate until use.