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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Authentic Andhra ~ Beerakaya Pottu Varugu


 Beerakaya Pottu Varugu - Sun dried Ridge Gourd Peel

Varugu - The Telugu word stands for something that has been sun-dried and can be stored year round. And in vegetarian homes, "that something" usually stands for the vegetables / vegetable peels / greens / fruits. When most of the families were agro based, the people always ended up with surplus amount of vegetables and fruits in their homes. In pre refrigeration era, they had to come up with ways of not letting their hard work go down the drain. And one of the methods of preservation of their extra bounty was to sundry them and storing them for later use. Probably our freezers now would not have served the purpose if their surplus was really a huge one. The wilted or the matured vegetables that were not fit to go into any dish and their peels also went for sun drying besides the surplus stuff and were put to use later on a rainy day. If a portion of the vegetable was rotten, that was discarded and the rest was sun dried too. Such was the frugality of our ancestors.
Sundrying and pickle making have been two methods of preserving the agricultural bounty in all cultures. Sundried tomatoes, dried mango (amchur), dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) are some of the things that we buy from stores even without thinking. I think this process of varugu making at homes is somewhat becoming obsolete in this modern era because everyone has to depend on their local grocers / markets for their supply of veggies and fruits. In India, the prices of vegetables now seem to have reached such a height that buying them for everyday cooking itself seems a Herculean task for many.
However give it a try this summer, if you have a vegetable patch in your backyard or when you get vegetables at bargain prices.

 
(Beerakaya Pottu - Ridge Gourd Peel in Telugu)

During summer my mother prepared this beerakaya pottu varugu, when she was visiting us. I had never seen my mother preparing any varugus as she also depends on her local market for vegetables and fruits. One day casually my father was mentioning how his mother used to prepare dosakaya / vankaya (lemon cucumber / eggplant) and other vegetable varugus when they had extra from their fields. The next day when my mother was preparing something with the ridge gourd, she mentioned that the peels could be used to prepare varugu besides the chutney. She showed me how to prepare this yummy varugu when I requested to. After tasting it, I wish I had prepared some more and I will do it the coming summer for sure.


The following quantities are just to give an idea. Use chilies and salt as per your taste.

Ingredients:
Ridge gourd peels - 3 cups
Red chilies - 10 to 12
Salt to taste


Method:
* Wash the ridge gourd peels and remove any strings if present. They must be clean and fresh.
* Slightly crush the ingredients together so that red chillies are ground. Do not add any water while doing so. Traditionally a stone mortar is used for the purpose.
* Sundry them till they turn crisp. We had to dry them for 3 days.
* Fry the dried peels in hot oil. Serve with rice and ghee.




This goes to  Food Palette - Brown hosted at Torview.

Post a Comment

9 comments:

Priya said...

Very interesting dish..never heard about this sun dried peels..

kitchen queen said...

wow! nice innovative idea of using ridgegourd peel.

harini-jaya said...

This is something new to me..I know mango varugu and other types but this is interesting too..

Smitha said...

this summer i will make it!...i love it totally!
Smitha
http://smithasspicyflavors.blogspot.com/

Priya said...

I've never heard of this dish, but it looks super delicious. I've only made beerakaya thokku pachadi, but this sounds much better.

I think most of our best regional cuisine comes from enterprising home cooks who were just trying to use their produce better.

Latha said...

Waiting for summer to make this. Love it.

Indymac friends help center said...

wow, even though I am from Andhra, this is so new for me. Love it.

Pritya said...

Suma, enjoyed reading your writeup, about traditional frugality & their thinking. Great to see a traditional dish being revived. Really clever thinking on the part of our elders. The photos look so fresh - must taste yumm!

Torviewtoronto said...

looks fabulous never had this