Saturday, November 21, 2015

Pirandai Thogayal

Pirandai (scientific name Cissus quandrangularis, also called as devil's backbone or adamant creeper) is a very common plant that grows all over the fence. I have seen that plant in that way right from my childhood. Anytime you need, just cut a few nodes lengths of the creeper from the fence and make yummy chutney or thogayal. I love it! Basically, I like more of thogayal (kind of pesto) than sambhar. This ranks first in my list, especially this recipe which is my mom's. She includes 14 ingredients in making this. Wow .....amazing taste. Pirandai thogayal is very common in brahmin households. It is made now and then for its health benefits (here is a list). This thogayal is always made during Thevasam (death anniversaries). Thevasam sappadu (meal) is very special and always everyone loves the food and it is also a ritual followed that grandkids and great-grandkids must eat that meal (belief is our forefathers come on that day and they will bless us). This recipe is always followed in our home (but we omit asafoetida if we prepare thogayal for thevasam).

The creeper is quite unique - the shape of the stem, its properties). Here is a picture of the plant growing in a pot on my terrace. It grows very easily. Just plant a node and water it. You will have a good amount of pirandai pretty soon. 

When using pirandai, make sure to pick tender stems. Chop off the nodes and discard them. Tender leaves can be used to prepare chutneys too. If you have stems that are a little matured, chop of the sharp edges. Sometimes handling pirandai may cause your palm or fingers to be itchy. If you feel so, just wash with a little tamarind extract or smear oil in your palms and then process pirandai. Generally, pirandai is used for making thogayal and its extract is also used for making tasty urad dhal appalams.

There are many ways to make this thogayal. I feel this recipe to be awesome. Just go ahead and try it. I am pretty sure you will agree with me. The 14 ingredients give a unique blend of flavors and overall give yummy magical flavors dancing in your tongue. It is raining heavily for the past few days and I craved to have this thogayal to brighten up a little. We had a wonderful meal. OK...a long intro for this pirandai and so here is the recipe. 


Pirandai - 1/4 cup, chopped
Curry leaves - 5 to 6 sprigs
Mustard - 1/2 tsp
Urad dhal, whole - 1 tsp
Black pepper - 1/4 tsp
Ginger - 1 to 1 and 1/2 in, peeled and chopped
Red chillies - 3
Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp
Green chilli - 1, chopped
Coconut - 1 and 1/2 tsp
Jaggery - 1 tsp
Tamarind - 1 tsp
Sesame oil - 2 -3 tsp

The ingredients for Pirandai thogayal


Chop the pirandai stems into small pieces, discard the nodes. (Tender leaves can be used too and they can be added along with the chopped stems to cook).

Heat a teaspoon of oil in a pan and saute the chopped stems of pirandai. It will change color. Keep aside. It should be cooked well or else it can make your tongue feel itchy.

In the same pan, heat 1 tsp of oil and fry red chillies, mustard, urad dhal, black pepper, tamarind, and asafoetida. Keep aside.

Heat another tsp of oil, add the green chilli, ginger and saute for a couple of mins. Add the curry leaves. continue to saute for 2 more mins. Add coconut and after a min, switch off the flame and let it cool.

Grind all the above with salt and a tsp of jaggery. Sprinkle water and grind to a smooth paste. Pirandai thogayal is all ready!

A bowl of rice mixed with a tsp of pirandai thogayal and a dollop of hot oil.....Heaven in your bowl!

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