Friday, April 15, 2022

Nellikkai and Nasi Lemak


Photo credit: wikimedia commons

Nellikkai ia the Tamil word for the fruit gooseberry. Its small round and green and actually slightly bitter. In Tamil literature five tastes are mentioned - sweet , sour, spicy or hot, salty and there is one more that we call thuvarppu. Some food items like betel nuts, gooseberries, banana flower etc have this taste and after some googling I figured out ita called astringent ( slightly bitter and acidic).

The gooseberry is supposed to be loaded with health benefits and is good for immunity, good hair, etc.  

In Kerala its a common practice to preserve gooseberries in salt water and that one is a mouthwatering snack. In our homes we make pickles using gooseberry , salt , red chillies and other spices. Surprisingly pickle and cucumber are synonymous in some parts of the world. In India thats not the case. We make pickles with mangoes, lemons , onions , chillies , gooseberries and even cauliflower . We marinate them in salt , add a lot of oil, red chilli powder and spices to give them longevity and to give us finger licking goodness every time we add some to our plate. 

Gooseberries can also be made into a pachadi or raitha ( something like a salad with curd ). Boil some gooseberries  , remove the pits, grind it with some coconut and green chillies. Then add them to curd and temper with mustards crackled in hot oil. It tastes awesome and has like a mountain of health benefits all grandmothers would vouch for ! 

Food from other lands : 

Nasi Lemak is a food item popular in Malay speaking parts of South East Asia. Nasi means rice and Lemak means fat. It translates to fatty or rather creamy rice. Its cooked with rice , coconut milk and a sort of leaf called pandan leaves used extensively in this part of the globe. Its typically served with sambhal , a spicy type of sauce . When I was working in Kuala Lumpur one of my Malaysian colleagues brought Nasi Lemak for a pot luck. That version is the best I have tasted so far . 

Food for Thought :

Norunga Thinraal Nooru Vayathu

This is very relevant to the theme of this blog.

Nooru - hundred

Thinral - if you eat ( thinru is the verb)

Norunga - crushed or chewed properly

Vayathu - age

If you chew or bite your food properly you live up to a hundred. 

The fast food culture is all about picking food on the move and wolfing it down to pacify ones hunger. In the day to day mad rush, I have done it too ! It is stressed by the wise that we need to treat our food with respect too. Eating slowly focussed on the food and chewing it properly is imperative for good health. 


  1. Tht chewing properly quote i need to implement it most....I love amla achar.. due to impact of American cartoons and shows, my daughter also thinks pickle is a cucumber 🥒😅

  2. I'm not sure I've ever eaten a gooseberry. They're not widely grown in the United States. But I do like varous pickled foods. I like your reminder of the importance of chewing food slowly and thoroughly - it changes the entire experience of eating when you are paying such close attention to it, and it's certainly much better for our bodies.

  3. I don't like the taste or smell of Nellikkai but it's my mom's favourite!!!

    Hopping in from the A-Z community,

  4. Oh my goodness, mango pickles sound amazingly delicious!

  5. Nasi lemak is one of my favorite dishes from my time in Malaysia!