'Mandi' is very famous in Chettinad; it's one of the ‘must’ items in the lunch menu during festivals. Mandi along with Curd Rice is a very common picnic/travel food those days. I still fondly remember those days, when my mother would narrate, how they use to carry Congee/Porridge with Mandi for travel. It's surely a mouth-watering dish. It goes very well with Plain hot rice, Curd rice, Idli and Uthappam.
Mandi is my mother's specialty, inexplicably it comes out very well every time she makes it, I think it's her love which turns the dishes delicious :)
It can be done in many ways,
- just with Chinna Vengayam/Small onions and Green/Dry Red Chillies.,
- with Small Onions, Chillies and Ladies Finger.,
- with mixed Vegetables, like Chow-Chow/Choyate, Brinjal, Drumstick/Murungaikkai, Carrot, French Beans, Unripe Mango/Maangai( for me Maangai is a must ingredient), Potato, Avarakkai/Indian Broad beans, kothavaranggai/Cluster beans, etc.,
My M-I-L also makes very delicious Vegetable Mandi, also known as 'Pala Kai Mandi'.
Benefits of Rice Water:
Mandi in Tamil means 'rice water', which is nothing but the water used to wash the uncooked rice.
Rice water or Mandi has been used in Asia for generations as a therapeutic ingredient for diarrhea and symptoms of stomach upset. It's been used for cosmetic purposes too, as face washing liquid and even as a toner. In Chettinad, Mandi or rice water has been used for making gravy for ages.
To prepare Rice water/Mandi, wash the rice in half cup of water briefly, to remove dirt from the rice. Soak 1 to 2 cups of rice in 1 and 1/2 to 3 cups of water for few minutes. (The ratio of rice to water is roughly about, 1:1 and ½) Drain and save the water to use for gravy.
Ingredients: (For Mixed Vegetable Mandi)
Chow Chow - 1/4 Cup (diced)
Carrot - 1 (diced)
French Beans - few
Indian Broad beans/Avarakkai - few
Drumstick/Murungaikkai - 1
Maangai/ Unripe mango - few pieces
(reduce the amount of Tamarind, if using Maangai, to avoid excess sourness)
Potato - 1 to 2 according to the size (diced)
Small Onions/Chinna Vengayam - 12 to 15 (halved or quartered according to size)
Green Chillies - 12
Or Red Chilles - 10 to 12 ( I prefer Green Chilies though)
Kothavaranggai/ Cluster Beans - 10 to 12
Brinjal - 3 to 4 (diced)
Tamarind - a small ball (about the size of a gooseberry) - soak & extract juice from it.
Large ripe tomatoes - 2 (diced)
Salt - to taste
Kadugu/mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp.,
Perungaayam/ Asafetida - 1/4 tsp. (roast well in oil)
Curry leaves - few
Dry red chili - 1 to 2
Oil - 2 to 3 tbsp. ( for all the Veggies to get coated)
Soak the tamarind in the rice water, prepare the vegetable and set aside. In a large pan/Kadai, pour oil and add the tempering ingredients, Kadugu/mustard seeds followed by Perungaayam/asafetida, red chili and curry leaves. As the seeds splutter add Chinna Vengayam/small onions and sauté for few minutes. Then add green chillies, Drumstick, Avarakkai, Kothavaranggai, French beans and Chow Chow. Let the Veggies cook for ten minutes, now add potato, carrot and tomato.
We need to add the Veggies which take longer time to cook first, then after sometime you can add the Veggies which take relatively lesser time to cook, that's the idea behind it.
Allow the vegetables to cook well, add Unripe mango or Maangai little later, as it takes very little time to cook. This way we can ensure all the vegetables are cooked evenly and few don't get mashed up.
Extract tamarind juice/puli thanni from the rice water and pour it over the vegetables. Allow it to blend well for 10 to 15 minutes.
Delicious, aromatic Chettinad Mandi is ready to serve.
Tips Tips Tips:
Some people add rice powder to thicken the gravy; I always skip this part, as I feel it ruins the taste, some way or the other. I just cook for few more minutes, for the gravy to thicken.
I've given the ideal list of vegetables for the Mandi. Try to add all the vegetables listed above for a healthy dish, nevertheless you can cook the Mandi with whatever vegetables (from the above list preferably) available. It will turn out perfectly well.
For Vendakkai Mandi/Mandi with Ladies Finger:
Ladies Finger/Vendakkai - 250 gms (diced)
Small Onions/Chinna Vengayam - (halved)
Green Chillies - 8
(Or) Dry red Chillies - 6 to 8 (according to the spice level of the chillies)
Large ripe tomato - 1 to 2 (depending on the size)
Potato - 1 (diced) - optional
Rice Water - 1 cup
Tamarind - small ball
Unripe Mango/Maangai - few pieces (optional)
It's almost the same procedure as above, using the same tempering ingredients, can use less oil.
Do the tempering, add small onions and chillies, sauté for few minutes before you add the Ladies finger/Vendakkai and potato.(if using) Cook for few more minutes, add the tomato and cook thoroughly, add Maangai little later. (If using) Pour tamarind soaked rice water, cook for 10 more minutes or until the gravy thickens a bit. Now Vendakkai Mandi is ready to serve.