Out of the 26 options available in the English language, at least one ought to be a food post right? This is the one. Did you ever experience a food coma after some cheesy oily pizza and pasta? All you parent mommies out there, I am sure you would have had morning sickness during your first trimester (at least). Did you feel the need to have something that would give you instant relief from your gastric and bloating? Travel bugs, senior citizens, pregnant women, indigestion cramps, who else and what not? There is an angel out there who answers everyone’s calls and that’s Naarthangaai aka the citron. It is a mandatory item in South Indian shelves, and is considered a dead lift agent in every household.
The aroma is medicinal and inviting. It looks and tastes very similar to lemon, but the citron has a unique flavor that works on call for all of the troubles thrown by the stomach. Greenish skin that peels off in ease, dry epidermis, and a juicy interior flaunts its flavor upon cutting it open, citron is our dear mitron (if you do not know the significance of this word mitron, I urge you to – Mitron ). Yes Citron is a favorite friend. Ironically, we don’t want to hang around Citron all that often because Citron’s continued demand means there is an ongoing trouble in the system. Now that we have an idea about it, let us look at some lip smacking citron recipes.
Naarthangai saadham [Citron Rice]
Very similar to the traditional lemon rice, wash and rinse the rice pellets before pressure cooking. Upon release, temper the rice with mustard seeds, lentils, curry leaves, Asian Indian green chili, hing powder, turmeric and salt. Once the rice cools to lukewarm, squeeze the citron cuts on the rice and mix it to homogeneity. Those who have tasted this recipe should have already conquered the mild citron sweetness in addition to a lemon rice’s sour that haunts them right now.
Uppu Naarthangai [Salted Citron]
This is a go to snack for the in-digested souls. Yes. You read it right. Upset stomachs can afford snacks? Remember citron is our mitron, so the answer is an undisputed yes. The beauty of this recipe is its simplicity. Citron balls are cut to pieces, and sun-dried after adding turmeric and salt to the juicy flesh. That’s about it. No oil, no tempering, flavoring or detailing. All the flavors get imbibed in its tissues, on exposure to sunlight. It is dried to an arid outer skin and is believed to stay edible for several years when it is maintained cold. Ceramic pots are known to be the signature citron containers in traditional households. Be sure to always have a back up at home. It can cure diarrhea and constipation alike. Pregnant keep smelling this magic ingredient to relieve themselves of the morning sickness. With yogurt rice, this is typically a go to medicine without side effects.
Naarthangai Oorugai [Citron pickle]
Now this is a luxurious version of the previous recipe. There is room for some glamor in the name of gingelly oil and spices. With glamor, comes a price and that is the preparation. Fenugreek and hing are dry roasted and powdered to finesse. Aroma is waiting to be added. Meanwhile, salt and spice blinks at the citron from inside the jars. So take them both and grind them to fine powder [dry red chilli and sea salt]. Mix the aroma and the spices together and set the stage for some absorption. Similar to the previous recipe, cut the citron to pieces, and add the prepared powder. Make sure to mix them well for an unbiased mixture. Warm the gingelly oil to mild heat, and pour it over the flavored citron. Of course watch the delightful seeping of the hot oil into the crevices and cracks of the citron forest. Allow it to settle down for 3-4 days, or more if you like it well immersed in the bath. Some people add more heated oil just as a preference. More oil preserves it longer. Relish the pickle with snow-white yogurt rice or piping hot plain rice. Citron redefines heaven.
Naarthangaai Pachadi [Citron side]
There are two variations to this dish. A spicy and a sweet version. In the spicy version, tamarind water bath filled with citron pieces, is brought to boil on the stove. The full becomes half, by thickening of the tamarind pool, and injecting the flavors into the citron flesh. Oil tempered mustard seeds, urad dal, curry leaves, and hing are added to the reduced mixture and salted to taste. For the sweet version, jaggery could be dissolved in the tamarind bath and brought to boil. Without jaggery, the sour n spicy version tricks the taste buds into eating until the finish line. A perfect side to any bland main, a healthy option not to be missed.
A husband’s sister is a naathanaar to his lady. As a gesture to honor sister-in-laws’ relationship, this name, similar to naarthangai, is a metaphorical reference to a medicine like bond that needs to preserved and savored eternally. Apparently, Google requested a dessert’s name for Android last OS, and naarthangai was a favorite among the Asian Indian options. A bunch of other interesting recipes and memories can be savored, for citron is always a mitron.
This post is 14/26 of AtoZChallenge.