Tag Archives: homemade

♧ PASTA ♧

Italian cuisine, swoop up the world and my country!

Deftly chiselling and carving its niche!

Italian ingredients, need stocking up in the pantry!

Arrives with an olive branch, now well within reach!

Pasta, distinguished, diverse in shapes and varieties, makes a gallant entry!

Surprise and sneak veggies, into the sphagetti!

Discover with glee, children fancy more and are hungry!

Gains approval, with complete unanimity!

Why bother searching ‘Ristorante’ up on Zomato?!

Make it at home, creamy, cheesy, flavourful with olive oil, oregano and tomato!

Wine and Dine! Divine!

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A PASTA !

PASTA IN WHITE SAUCE

Prep time : 5 mins; Cooking time : 30 mins; Serves: 4

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Creamy white sauce with veggies

Ingredients for preparing the Alfredo sauce | Béchamel sauce  (organic and natural) :

  • 1 1/2 tbsp  butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp plain flour or corn flour (for gluten free version)
  • 3 – 4 cups milk
  • 25 gms or 1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese | cheddar | cheese of choice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 – 3 cloves
  • 1/2 tsp pepper powder
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg powder
  • salt to taste

Ingredients for preparing the white sauce (organic and natural) :

  • 1 onion
  • 6 – 9 cloves of garlic
  • 1 1 /2 cups of finely chopped vegetables (an assortment of coloured capsicum, green or black olives, corn, peas, broccoli, zucchini, carrots, a few spinach leaves, a sprig of parsley or coriander leaves, mushrooms)
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 11/2 to 3 tsp Italian herb mix seasoning (a blend of rosemary, thyme, basil and oregano)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 50 gms or 1 1/2 – 3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese |  cheese of choice
  • salt to taste

Ingredients to prepare the Pasta (organic and natural) :

  • 500gms whole wheat Pasta or gluten free pasta made with rice flour | millet flour | buckwheat flour (for the gluten free version)
  •  2 tsp salt or as required
  • large pot of water for boiling the pasta

Method :

  1. Grate the cheese block and set aside.
  2. First  prepare the creamy Béchamel sauce. Melt butter in a skillet, add the flour and roast it for a couple of minutes. Poke and secure the cloves onto the bay leaf and add it in. Stir for about 2 – 3 mins then add milk and cook for about 5 – 7 mins till it thickens. Remove out  the secured bay leaf and cloves and discard. Mix in the grated cheese. Switch off heat. Grate in the nutmeg, add pepper powder and salt. If the sauce is too thick, stir in another 1/2 – 1 cup of milk. Set aside.
  3. Peel and crush the garlic and make a garlic paste. Peel and finely chop the onion. Finely chop, rest of the vegetables.
  4. Melt the butter in a skillet, add the crushed garlic paste and saute for a 1 -2 mins, till done. Now add the olive oil and throw in the onions. Add the salt and saute them till translucent, then toss in the assorted veggies, except spinach or any other greens and olives. Fry them for about 5 – 10 mins till lightly cooked and crunchy.
  5. Fold in the prepared Béchamel sauce, then add the seasonings, first the red chilli flakes, italian herb mix. Mix well and cook for about 2 -3 mins. Now add the spinach, parsley, any other greens (if added) and olives. Mix well. Alfredo white sauce is done. Switch off the heat.
  6. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente. 10 – 15 mins for regular pasta and about 7 – 10 mins for gluten free pasta or as per the instructions on the packet.
  7. Pour the sauce over the boiled pasta or vice-versa. Top with grated cheese and serve hot.

PASTA IN RED SAUCE :

Prep time : 5 mins; Cooking time : 1 hr; Serves: 4

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Spicy tangy red sauce with tomatoes

Ingredients for preparing the red sauce | Marinara sauce (organic and natural) :

  • 1 kg tomatoes (preferably sweet roma ones)
  • 1 green capsicum
  • 9 – 12 garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar (optional, if the tomatoes are not sweet enough)
  • 1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 11/2 to 3 tsp Italian herb mix seasoning (a blend of rosemary, thyme, basil and oregano)
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp pepper powder
  • 3 – 4 basil leaves | tulsi leaves
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 2 – 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 50 gms or 1 1/2 – 3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese |  cheese of choice

Ingredients to prepare the Pasta (organic and natural) :

  • 500gms whole wheat Pasta or gluten free pasta made with rice flour | millet flour | buckwheat flour(for the gluten free version)
  •  2 tsp salt or as required
  • large pot of water for boiling the pasta

Method :

  1. Make a few gashes or slits across all the tomatoes. Bring a large pot of water to boil and blanch the tomatoes for 2 minutes. Drain and shock them in cold water and then peel all of them.
  2. Puree half the quantity in a blender and finely chop the rest. Finely chop the capsicum, garlic and basil leaves.
  3. Take butter in a skillet and roast the garlic for about 3 mins, then pour in the olive oil. Add in the tomato puree, finely chopped tomatoes and capsicum. Cook covered for 5 mins. Open the lid stir well and cook covered, for atleast 30 mins. The longer you cook the tomatoes, the tastier the sauce.
  4. Roast the fennel seeds and powder them in a dry grinder.
  5. Then add the sugar, fennel seeds powder, Italian herb mix, red chilli flakes and pepper powder and cook for about 5 mins. Add the finely chopped basil leaves. Marinara red sauce is done. Switch off heat.
  6. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente. 10 – 15 mins for regular pasta and about 7 – 10 mins for gluten free pasta or as per the instructions on the packet.
  7. Pour the sauce over the boiled pasta or vice-versa. Top with grated cheese and serve hot.

PASTA IN MIXED SAUCE OF WHITE AND RED :

Prep time : 5 mins; Cooking time : 1 hr; Serves: 4

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Mixed sauce of both white and red.

Ingredients for Mixed sauce of White and Red :

  • Prepared White Sauce
  • Prepared Red Sauce
  • 500 gms Prepared and boiled al dente pasta
  • 50 gms or 1 1/2 – 3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese |  cheese of choice

Method :

  1. Mix the freshly prepared white sauce and red sauce together
  2. Pour the mixed sauces over the boiled pasta or vice-versa. Top with grated cheese and serve hot.
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Pasta in mixed sauce of red and white. This one gets the highest vote @ home!

BAKED PASTA :

Prep time : 5 mins; Cooking time : 30 mins ; Serves : 4

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Baked pasta. Goey goodness!

Ingredients :

  • Freshly prepared Pasta in white sauce pasta | Pasta prepared in red sauce  | Pasta prepared in a mixed sauce of White and red
  • 100 – 150 gms parmesan cheese block |  cheese of choice
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See this is what I mean?!

Method :

  1. Grate the cheese.
  2. Make alternate layers of  prepared pasta and grated cheese or pour in the prepared pasta and cover only the top layer with grated cheese, in an oven proof baking dish.
  3. Bake at 170 C for about 30 mins or till the cheese layer on the top melts and bakes to a golden brown colour. Serve hot.
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A Yum!
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♧ DAL ♧

When one enters a typical Indian kitchen, what is the one thing you are sure to hear and find?! One whistle blow and a minimum of one Pressure cooker! Elementary, my dear Watson! and ‘one’ word, in this foreword is one too many! Once again, Elementary, my dear Watson! Elementary!

Pressure Cooker is a fantastic gadget discovery, a useful cooking aide and an excellent lifetime investment. In the recent years, dependence on a Pressure cooker has increased manifolds and rightfully so!. An indispensible tool in all my years of engaging in the culinary arts.

Points in our defence :
▪ retains nutrients and flavours of the food.
▪ saves time. Big time!
▪ saves energy | gas | fuel.
▪ saves clean up effort, thanks to one pot cooking with closed lid technology.
▪ A cooler kitchen ambience both in terms of looks and feel, thanks once again to the trendy modern, less noisy, safe versions that retain heat and steam from escaping.
If you have never owned one, time to get past the enigma, the advantages are too good to pass up!

While watching a Cooking competition TV show, I noted the judges look down on the pressure cooker (pun intended) and remark “Pressure cooker has done all the cooking, where is the Chef ‘s skill here?”
Surprisingly though, I have yet to come across a scene, where they make similar observations, when a contestant uses, a Kitchen aid professional stand mixer or an Industrial oven for baking!

With dietary practices increasingly linked to lifestyle diseases, here comes a ‘Dal’ recipe, to cheer about. Dal is lentil based, hence protein rich. Nutritious, healthy, vegetarian and a simply flavoured, frugal dish.

‘Dal Chawal’, a North Indian staple is the common man’s comfort or soul food. There are diverse ways of making it, here I share with you my easy, home style, delicious pressure pan way!

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Ah! the simple pleasures of life!

Prep time: 10mins; Cooking time : 20 mins; Serves : 4

Ingredients (organic and natural) :

for the dal:
  • 3/4 cup Thuvar Dal | Red gram lentil or Masoor Dal | Pink lentil
  • 1/4 cup Moong Dal
  • 3 1/2  – 4 cups of water
  • 2 onions
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dhania powder | coriander powder
  • 1 tsp jeera powder | cumin powder
  • 1/2  tsp garam masala powder (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp haldi | turmeric powder
  • salt to taste
for the tempering :
  • 1 tsp jeera | cumin
  • 1/4 tsp of  hing | asafoedita
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 – 2 green chilies
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 1 tb.sp ghee | Mustard oil | cooking of choice

for the garnish: 

  • 1/2 a lemon
  • 3 sprigs of coriander leaves
  • 1 tsp dry kasuri methi | fenugreek leaves
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One pot ‘Dal’

Procedure :

1. Cut the onions and tomatoes into half and then cut those halves into about 4 pieces, basically chop them in big pieces and add it to a pressure pan, also add the washed and rinsed Thuvar dal. Now pour water and pressure cook with the whistle, till you hear 3 – 5 whistles. Cool down to room temperature.

2. Open and roughly mash up the lentils with the back of the ladle. Add the seasonings turmeric, coriander powder, cumin powder, garam masala powder and salt. At this stage, one can add approximately 1/2 a cup more of water,if a light and runny consistency is desired. Mix well. Let it simmer on a low flame for about 5 mins. Switch off.

3. Grind the garlic, green chilies and ginger coarsely in a blender or crush them in a mortar and pestle. Finely chop the coriander leaves. Set aside.

4. For the tadka | chaunk | tempering, take oil in a small kadai | skillet, add jeera, hing, along with the blended mixture of garlic, green chilies and ginger. Fry for a few minutes till lightly brown and the inviting roasted garlic aroma fills your kitchen. Switch off the heat. Pour this tempering, onto the Dal in the pressure pan.

5. Squeeze in the lemon juice. Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves and kasthuri methi leaves after finely crushing them between the palms of your hand.

Variations : 

1. Few finely chopped Spinach, Radish leaves or any greens of your choice can be added in along with the seasonings, in Step 2.
2. While tempering, include 1/4 – 1/2 tsp of red chilly powder (at the end being careful about not to burning it) and 1 – 2 whole red chilly broken into 2 – 3 pieces in the above recipe.

3. General rule (time varies depending upon the quality of the lentils) to cook the dals on a stove top (if you have yet to procure the pressure cooker) – Soak the Thuvar Dal | Masoor Dal for atleast 2 hours and then cook on a slow flame covered with a lid, along with 3 1/2 cups of water for 30 mins. Check in between to make sure it does not overflow. Mash the lentils between the fingers to check if it is soft and if not boil for for some more time, till done.

Serve hot with rice, curry, pickles and experience the simple pleasures of life!!!
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¤ VEN PONGAL | MILLET VEN PONGAL ¤

Ven Pongal is a wonderful dish, served as breakfast or tiffin in South India and also quick and easy to make with simple ingredients.

Traditionally, Sakkarai pongal, the sweet version and Ven pongal, the savoury one are prepared for ‘Thai Pongal’ – the Tamil Harvest festival – the Tamil equivalent of Thanksgiving. It is celebrated, by boiling the first harvested rice of the season and as it overflows, saying ‘Pongalo Pongal’  and “Thai Pirandhal Vazhi Pirakkum” meaning “the birth of the month of Thai (comes in January as per the English Calendar) will pave the way for new opportunities”. The act of overflowing denotes and symbolises, abundance and prosperity. All done outdoors, in appreciation of the Sun god, solar energy provider of the bountiful agricultural produce.

“You make these interesting dishes, when I am out of town.” observed Sri. Objection, my lord (feminist issue? no offence please, sticking to a standard phrase here), beg to differ “You are out of town, when I make these interesting dishes.”  Ven Pongal is a type of Kitchdi,  which I make often, as Pa loves it. He enjoys Millet Pongal and we have come to enjoy it along with him. Encore, made it again. We wolfed down, our respective share of the soft, buttery and peppery Ven Pongal. No one spoke, sign of good food.  Now ‘All izz well’ (did you just sing it like Rancho, in the bollywood movie Three Idiots?! Don’t even bother answering that, rhetorical question!)

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Prep time : 5 mins; Cooking time : 15 mins; Serves : 4

Ingredients for Pongal:

  • 1 cup rice | millet (preferably kuthiravalli | barnyard millet, samai | little millet, thinai | foxtail millet)
  • 1/4 cup moong dal | payatham paruppu | green gram lentil
  • 2 – 3 green chilies
  • 1 inch ginger
  • Rock salt powder to taste
  • 5 1/2 cups of water

Ingredients for Tempering :

  • 1 tb sp Ghee | clarified butter | cooking oil of choice
  • 9 -11 cashewnuts
  • 11/2 tsp jeera | cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 3 stems of curry leaves
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One pot dish – Little MIllet | Samai Ven Pongal

Procedure :

1. Finely chop the ginger and green chilies. Set aside. Grind the cumin seeds and peppercorns together coarsely, in a mortar pestle or a dry grinder. Set aside.

2. Dry roast rice | millet and moong dal together, till fragrant. Wash and rinse them well. Take a pressure pan and add the rice, lentils, finely chopped ginger, finely chopped green chilies and water and pressure cook with the whistle for upto 3 – 4 whistles. Switch off heat. Once the pressure is released open the pressure cooker and add salt.

3. For tempering take ghee | oil in a pan, fry the cashewnuts, curry leaves and freshly ground cumins seeds and peppercorns in that order till lightly brown and fragrant. Add it to the pongal in the pressure cooker. Mix well.

Serve hot with Sambar, Coconut chutney or Gothsu (gravy of vegetables and lentils in tamarind sauce).

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♧ PULI RASAM | TAMARIND RASAM ♧

Rasam is a comfort food and can be categorized as a soup or an entree, of a typical South Indian Meals menu. An incredibly popular dish (in fact, sharing this recipe on reader requests). It never ceases to fascinates me, that Rasam is common, standard, routine, ordinary yet so very amazing at the same time!

Puli Rasam | Tamarind Rasam is a healthy appetizer soup which is sour, tangy, peppery, delicious, fragrant, warm, soothing, cosy,  zingy experience – all at the same time!

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Tempered Tamarind Rasam

Prep time : 10 mins; Cooking time : 20 mins; Serves : 4-6

Ingredients :

  • Red Gram Lentil | Toovar Dal – 1/2 cup
  • Water – 5 cups
  • Tomatoes (local country / wine ripe variety) – 3 or Cherry tomatoes (lend a hint of sweet taste) – 9 -15
  • Whole Tamarind without seeds – a small gooseberry sized ball
  • Garlic (optional, if one is observing a fast otherwise, highly recommended) – 1 whole bulb
  • Sambar Podi | Powder – 1 tsp
  • Rasam Podi | Powder – 1 tsp
  • Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  • Asafoetida | Hing – a pinch
  • Ghee | Sesame Oil – 1 tsp
  • Rock Salt – to taste
  • Coriander leaves – 3 sprigs
  • Curry leaves – 7 – 9

Method :

1. Wash and rinse the lentils and pressure cook them really soft with about 1 1/2 cups of water upto 4 whistles. Roughly mash them with the back of a ladle and set aside.
2. Soak the tamarind in 1 1/2 cups of hot water for 15 mins, Squeeze the tamarind well, discard the pulp and strain out the tamarind juice.Chop the tomatoes into 1/2 inch squares, if they are cherry tomatoes, keep them whole. Peel the garlic cloves and mince them into fine pieces. Add the tomatoes, garlic and Sambar Podi | Powder to the tamarind water and cook on low flame for about 9 -10 mins.
3. Once the raw smell of the tamarind, Sambar Podi | Powder go away and also the tomatoes soften, add the mashed lentils, salt and 2 cups of water and boil for another 9 – 10 mins.
4. Add Rasam Podi | Powder to the broth and cook till the distinct aroma of the Rasam podi | Powder  fills the kitchen, about 5 mins, till you see a layer of froth as you boil the lentils. Switch off the heat.
6. Heat Ghee / Sesame oil, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and Hing. After it splutters, temper the Rasam with it.
7. Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves and curry leaves. (yes, yet again – since these leaves grow easily in our tropical climate and are available fresh throughout the year, they make their appearance, in most Indian dishes)

Variation :

Goddu Rasam | Dhidir Rasam | Instant Rasam

To prepare Goddu Rasam, skip the Red gram Lentil | Toovar Dal and follow the above recipe. This variation of Puli rasam | Tamarind Rasam is also called ‘Dhidir Rasam’ meaning Instant Rasam in some households, as it is quick to prepare. This warm soup, light to digest, is welcome during monsoons or invariably when a family member, might be convalescing due to change of weather.

Piping hot Puli Rasam | Tamarind Rasam can be had along with rice or as an appetizer soup. Bon appetite!

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Puli Rasam |Tamarind Rasam|Lentil Soup

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◇ RASAM PODI |POWDER ◇

Change is constant. Can one refute this prelude?!

Though, somethings are best left unchanged like my Rasam Podi | Powder recipe (mmm… so fragrant even as I grind it)

Rasam Podi | Powder is added, at the end to Tamarind Rasam, Lemon Rasam  or any type of Rasam and brought to a boil. It is also added to Kootu (Vegetable and lentil dish) and Keerai (Spinach and Lentil dish) to enhance flavour.

Rasam Podi | Powder is the major zing factor of a freshly prepared Rasam | Lentil soup.

Disclaimer for Indians travelling abroad, intending to pack and carry this aromatic | fragrant spice mix, Rasam Podi | Powder – No guarantee of passing baggage clearance, right under the nose of a Customs official!

Prep time : 5 mins; Cooking time : 10 mins; Makes : about 1 1/2 cups

Rasam powder
Ingredients for Rasam Powder

Ingredients :

  • Cumin Seeds | Jeera – 1 cup
  • Black Peppercorns – 3/4 cup
  • Coriander seeds | Dhania – 1/4 cup
  • Red Gram Lentil | Thuvar Dal – 1 tbsp
  • Bengal Gram Lentil | Channa Dal – 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves – 1 tbsp
  • Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
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Dry roasted Ingredients along with turmeric

Method :

1. Dry roast all the ingredients, till lightly brown and aromatic, except curry leaves and turmeric powder. Set aside.

2. Dry roast the curry leaves, till lightly brown and add it to the ingredients along with the turmeric powder.

3. Grind all the ingredients coarsely in a dry grinder. Store this fragrant powder in an air tight container and use with a dry and clean spoon as and when required, up to 3 months.

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Fragrant Rasam Powder

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◇ SAMBAR PODI | POWDER ◇

Sambar Podi | Powder is the secret behind the grand and flavourful dish, Sambar of the South Indian cuisine.

Sambar is an accompaniment for most Tiffin | Snack items like Idli, Dosa, Uthappam, Upma (made with rice | millet’s), Pongal (made with rice | millet’s), Sevai (rice | millet noodles), Vadai, Bonda, also for lunch items like Rice with Vegetable Curry and Mixed Rice varieties.

Sambar Podi | Powder is also added, to flavour dishes like Sevai, Upma, Vegetable Curry, Gothsu (Vegetables and Lentil gravy dish), Tamarind Rasam and many other types of Rasam (Lentil Soup).

Homemade powders should be patented but generously sharing, with my fine readers, transcends all technicalities!

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Roasted Ingredients for Sambar Podi | Powder

Prep time : 5 mins; Cooking time : 20 mins; Makes : about 3 1/2 cups

Ingredients :

  • Coriander Seeds | Dhania – 2 1/2 cups
  • Whole dry Red Chilies – 2 cups
  • Red Gram Lentil | Thuvar Dal –  3 tbsp
  • Bengal Gram Lentil | Channa Dal  – 1 tbsp
  • Cumin Seeds | Jeera – 1 tbsp
  • Black peppercorns – 1/2 tbsp
  • Fenugreek Seeds | Methi dana (optional) – 1/2 tbsp
  • Mustard Seeds (optional)  – 1/2 tbsp
  • Poppy Seeds (optional) – 1 tsp
  • Cinnamon Stick (optional) – 1 1/2 inches
  • Curry leaves – 3 tbsp
  • Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
  • Asafoetida powder | Hing powder – 1/2 tsp

Method :

1. Dry roast all ingredients except turmeric, individually, till fragrant and lightly brown. Cool down to room temperature.

2. Grind all the ingredients together to a fine powder in a dry grinder.

3. Store in an airtight container. Can be stored for up to 3 – 6 months.

Cook’s Note :

1. Can be made in bulk, by increasing the individual ingredient quantities, proportionately and grinding it in a mill.

2. Cinnamon sticks, Poppy seeds, Fenugreek seeds and Mustard seeds are optional and can be skipped, if one does not like the taste of these spices in their Sambar.

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Sambar Podi | Powder

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♧ MAAVADU | VADU MANGA | TENDER RAW MANGO PICKLE ♧

I am doing very well, thank you, in case you wondered.

Come Summer and Maavadu | Vadu Manga | Tender Mango pickle is a welcome delicacy, gives one – a good gut feeling. In the good old days, lady of the house, in South India successfully made it in bulk, shared in detail, her adventures relating to the tender mangoes selection, her recipe and then, distribute it in jars / bottles to all her near and dear, kith and kin, as she believed, ‘a success’ unshared, is a failure.

Only homemade pickles can claim to be healthy!

Pickles have higher content of salt, chilly and oil, necessary to  preserve them for longer periods of time. If the pickle is homemade, ingredients used will definitely be natural, organic, genuine in comparison to a store bought one, where one questions the quality, quantity of ingredients and may even contain, chemical preservatives. I rest my case.

Prep Time : 9 days; Serves : 21

Maavadu|Vadu Manga|Tender Mango pickle

Ingredients :

Maavadu | Vadu Manga | Tender Raw Mango – 9 cups

Sea Salt Powder – 1 1/4

Cold pressed Sesame Oil / Castor Oil – 1 tbsp

Turmeric – 1 tsp

Mustard Seeds – 1 tbsp

Red chilly powder – 2 tbsp

Method :

1. Wash, clean and dry the tender mangoes. Keep the tender mangoes in a glass or ceramic jar. Make sure to coat oil, turmeric powder and salt, evenly to all the mangoes and set aside for 2 days. Checking and tossing it around, every evening and morning and if possible, even in between. Two days later, the mangoes will ooze out water due to the salt applied.

2. Grind the mustard seeds in a dry grinder. Add mustard seeds powder and red chilli powder to the mangoes. Mix well, again set aside, for about a week. Check and toss it around, every evening and morning. Once the mangoes shrivel, shrink and absorb all the spices, it is ready for consumption. Store in glass bottles or ceramic jars. Refrigerate, in case, the weather is too hot but under ideal conditions, they can be kept outside to last for about 6 months to a year.(never tried that long, as I love this pickle)

Cook’s Note :

1. Keep the stems on the tender mangoes, if one plans to store this pickle for a long time.

2. If, not enough water oozes out of the mangoes, it means salt content is less, One can add about 1/4 cup more.

3. Sesame oil, is the better option, if Castor oil ( used as per traditional recipe) is not agreeable.

4. Use a fresh, clean and dry spoon every time you serve the pickle – helps to preserve the pickle longer.