Neem flower is considered an antiseptic that can cleanse your system. It is also known to cure skin impurities when applied on the skin. There are quite a few South Indian dishes that incorporate neem flower. Like a neem flower powder in parts of Andhra and Tamil Nadu that is very similar to a curry leaf powder, usually mixed with hot rice and ghee. Just like the other ingredients in the Ugadi pachadi, the spices in some of these dishes balance the bitterness of the neem flower. And almost always, the neem flowers are added towards the end of the cooking process. But you can't quite escape the bitter taste of the neem flower even in these dishes. We've rounded up a few traditional South Indian recipes with neem flower. It's clearly an acquired taste, but one that comes with tangible health benefits:1. Neem flower chutneyThis is one of the easiest dishes to enjoy the health benefits of neem flowers. You can mix this with hot rice and ghee or enjoy it as an accompaniment with dosas.
Ingredients: Dried neem flowers: 1/2 cup
Urad dal: 1/4 cup
Red chilies: 8-10
Tamarind: size of a big size lemon
Jaggery: 1/8 cup
Curry leaves: small bunch
Asafoetida: 2 pinches
Ghee: 1 tablespoon
Method:1) Fry the urad dal in a pan with 1 tablespoon of ghee. Remove from the pan once the dal turns golden brown.2) Roast the dried neem flowers in the same pan till they turn crispy. Add the tamarind and then the other ingredients including the urad dal.3) Keep stirring in the pan adding very little water till the coarse mixture turns into a pickle like consistency.2. Neem rasamMy mother has dozens of rasam recipes under her sleeve but not all those rasams can match the goodness of this rasam infused with neem flower. This is her simple recipe.Ingredients: Neem flower: 1/4 cup
Juice from tamarind (tamarind extract): to taste
Tur dal (cooked and mashed in a soup-like consistency): 1/4 cup
Asafoetida: a pinch
Ghee: 3/4 spoon
Crushed pepper: 1 teaspoon
Dried red chillies
Mustard seeds: 1/4 teaspoon
Curry leaves: a small bunch
Salt: to tasteMethod:1) Fry the dried neem flowers in 1/2 teaspoon ghee till they turn golden brown. Keep it aside
Boil tamarind juice in another dish (till the raw smell leaves)2)Add the dal, water and salt; simmer for a few minutes and add the crushed pepper before turning off.
3) Add 1/4 teaspoon to another pan. Roast the crushed red chillies, mustard, asafoetida and curry leaves before tossing in the neem leaves.4) Add this mixture to the pan with the dal/tamarind water and boil briefly.5) Close the lid and let it simmer for a while before serving6) You can mix this with rice or just consume it like a soup.3. Neem flower KuzhambuMrs Lalitha Rajan from Chennai is an expert in Chettinad cuisine. This is her recipe. It tastes equally good with rice or thick dosas.
Ingredients:Onion shallots (small onions): 20
Turmeric: 1/4 teaspoon
Chilly Powder: 1 teaspoon
Coriander powder: 1 teaspoon
Tamarind water (Extract from a tamarind the size of a lemon)
Water - 350 ml
Salt - to taste
Curry leaves: small bunch
Tomato (chopped): 1
Cooking oil: 1 tablespoon
Jeera: 1 teaspoon
Mustard seeds: 1/2 teaspoon
Fenugreek: 1/4 teaspoon
Urad dal: 1/4 teaspoon
Method:1) 'Temper' the mustard seeds, jeera, fenugreek, and curry leaves.2) Fry the small Onion along with this3) Add the chopped tomato. Sauté.4) Then add the chilly powder, salt, coriander powder, turmeric and garlic. Sauté for ten minutes
Add the tamarind water to this mixture; boil till it reaches the desired consistency.5) In a separate pan add a little oil and temper 1/2 teaspoon of jeera, 1/2 teaspoon of mustard seeds, urad dal and curry along with 1/4 cup dried neem flowers. Turn off as soon as the neem flowers turn golden brown6) Add this mixture to the gravy and turn off once it simmers.
About the Author:Ashwin Rajagopalan is a cross cultural training expert and lifestyle writer. When he's not writing about food, he thinks about gadgets, trends and travel experiences. He enjoys communicating across cultures and borders in his weekday work avatar as a content and editorial consultant for a global major and one of India's only cross cultural trainers.Disclaimer:The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
About Ashwin RajagopalanI am the proverbial slashie - a content architect, writer, speaker and cultural intelligence coach. School lunch boxes are usually the beginning of our culinary discoveries.That curiosity hasn’t waned. It’s only got stronger as I’ve explored culinary cultures, street food and fine dining restaurants across the world. I’ve discovered cultures and destinations through culinary motifs. I am equally passionate about writing on consumer tech and travel.