As you are all aware, back home we make Veppam Poo Pachchidi on Tamil New Year’s Day as a starter in the plate/banana leaf – this practice is special to Tanjore district although in other places they have mango pachchidi to which veppam poo is added. The idea behind is that since this Pachchidi has all the six tastes (aru suvai – sweet, salt, sour, bitter, hot or urappu and thuvarpu) we will continue to enjoy food consisting of all these tastes throughout the year! (You are welcome to come up with any other explanation!). I give below my recipe learnt from my mother.

Ingredients (for a family of 4):

  1. Veppam Poo (Dried neem leaves): 4 teaspoons
  2. Tamarind: the size of a small lime (soaked in 2 cups of water)
  3. Salt: to taste
  4. Red chillies: 6 (or as to taste)
  5. Mustard seeds: 1 teaspoon
  6. Asfoetida: A couple of pinches
  7. Curry Leaves: about 8-10
  8. Goor or Vellam: the size of a small lemon

Roast the Veppam Poo with a small amount of oil and keep it aside (making sure you don’t let it be burnt). In pan add a small amount of oil and when hot put the mustard seeds, red chillies, curry leaves, salt and asafoedia. After the mustard seeds spluttering noise has subsided, strain the tamarind water and pour it into the saucepan and let it boil for a few minutes. Once the raw smell of tamarind has gone, put the goor/vellam and boil till it is dissolved. The liquid in the saucepan by now should be have a gooey or soup-like consistency; if not you may add about ½ teaspoon of rice flour fully dissolved in water and add to the pachchidi to get the consistency and take it off the fire. Then add the roasted veppam poo and serve as the first item on the plate/banana leaf and enjoy your food throughout the year!