Maybe it was because I was so little, but while growing up in India our small house looked like an ever-expanding empire to me. From the backyard garden where my dad carefully tended to the flower plants to the terrace with a swing that made a unique sound when more than two people sat on it – there are so many little memories scattered all around that place I called home not too long ago. I have spent many afternoons in India cooking and eating some amazing homemade food with my family. Our kitchen was about a hundred square feet, but oh did we create some wonders in that little space!
The thing I remember the most is making mango pickle with my sister and my parents! Making pickle was a family effort and everyone had a role to play in the process. The preparations started days ago, with my dad in-charge of picking out the best mangoes. He was the one to go to the market in our family, so he would start keeping an eye on which vendor is bringing better quality mangoes, and at what price. After every trip, he would religiously report back to my mom about his findings. The precious mangoes would arrive in our home after careful comparison and often times drawn-out negotiations with the vendor. An afternoon would be set aside for pickle-making once mom cleared up her schedule!
A seasoned pickle maker like my mom had her steps down – the first one being wearing used, worn out clothes to avoid getting stains on our regular dresses! She would wear an old saree and find some old dresses that no longer fit me and my sister. I can still hear my grandmother in the background commenting on how fast we were both growing up! Our little kitchen would be transformed into a pickle making factory. While my parents and I would be focused on the task at hand, my little sister would run around the kitchen enjoying the process too much for my liking! Working together in a small space invariably started conversations – reflecting on the weeks past, and discussions about what lied ahead for the family. It was such a bonding experience!
I think cooking together as a family is a dying art. I see families not sharing a meal together for days, let alone cooking a meal together. When I look back upon my days in India, I don’t think about the restaurants where I ate nice meals, but I think about the little things I had done with my family where we all worked together, talked and did the more mundane things. Do you and your loved ones cook together? Maybe hold off that pizza delivery next time you have an evening free with your family! You might be amazed at how people open up while cooking together! Today, Anup and I have made raw turmeric pickle the way my mom used to make them!
Turmeric has a number of health benefits. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, could potentially ward off dementia and prevent cancer. Turmeric is naturally anti-inflammatory; it inhibits the growth of new blood vessels in tumors and it’s a powerful antioxidant. Turmeric is also an immunity booster. My mom used to use turmeric paste on wounds as turmeric is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent.
Most western kitchens rarely use turmeric and it’s a common misconception that turmeric is only for curry dishes! While the dried powder form of turmeric is more commonly available, I love the fresh raw turmeric. I love pickled roots in all types of dishes. From pickled turmeric to pickled carrots, these pickles are easy to make and can be used for weeks. This pickled turmeric can easily be added to a number of dishes – from salads to soups, sandwiches to wraps. I love pickled turmeric on a toast, but I am sure you will have your own favorite way of using this pickled beauty!
8 oz fresh raw turmeric roots
2 medium size carrots
juice of 4 lemons
1 tbsp salt
Scrub turmeric roots and carrots in running water. Peel the skin and slice in thin circles. You might want to wear gloves while cutting turmeric because it creates yellow stains on your hands. Alternatively, you can use a food processor with a slicing disk attachment.
In a big bowl put sliced turmeric, carrots, lemon juice and salt, mix well. Store in a sterilized jar and refrigerate. Shake well before use.