We malayalees are a very imaginative lot. Which is why we name our children in ways that make them want to jump in front of a super express train. Only in Kerala would Suja's and Mathew's kid be called Maja, and Rani's and Balu's kid be named Luni. (Thus assuring the world that both parents contributed equally to the birth of the child.) Aprilmon would be the unfortunate boy who made his appearance on earth in April, and Maymol would be the girl who was born in, you guessed it, the month of May! With all due respect to people who make it to the obituary column, the names of the deceased's kids make for some fun reading at times. I came across an Anish, Binish, Danish and Finish brotherhood once. Guess the parents (one of them featured in the paper) had wanted a girl but decided to put a finish to all their trials with the birth of Finish.
But these kids who are so lovingly named by their parents grow apart from one another in due course of time over petty issues. "Mother had promised me all her jewellery!", "I want the roadside property, you can have the kandam", "I am not taking care of the old man unless I have more than your share of the bank balance" are frequent complaints.
My brother and I don't seem very bothered about money. Atleast I am not, I don't know if he is that noble. When we were kids, and even in our twenties, we fought over the more basic of needs - food. (Guess it wasn't nobility, but our well pronounced animal instincts that kept us away from fights over money). This meant that if we had a can of pepsi, we poured it into two glasses and double checked that the level of drink in our glasses was the same, always doing this at eye level to ensure accurate reading. We didn't share like civil beings, no sir. Everything had to divided equally to the last drop and morsel and any argument was settled through fist fights. I had no self control and finished my share quickly. But he kept some leftover so he could eat gloatingly in front of me the next day. Little did he know I would nick a bit, ok, more than a bit every now and then. :D (I have always been the smarter one.)
But, when it came to non vegetarian pickles, my mother always found excuses to give him more than she gave me. At first, he was away in college while I was at home, so he needed it more than me. Then, by the time I went to college, he started working in Bangalore. So again he was further away from home than I was and while he got prawn pickle, I got sardine pickle. And finally, when I made it to Bangalore, he packed his bags and went off to NY! Now he gets huge bharanis of beef achar and I get only a tiny bottle which gets over all too quickly. I am not so lucky all the time; sometimes all I am given is a slice of bread to clean up the pan in which the achar is made. The injustice of it all!
My only consolation is that I have the recipe for best beef pickle in the world.
1 kg beef
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
To taste, salt
3 teaspoons mustard seeds
½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2 garlic pods (around 40 garlic cloves - the small kind), each clove sliced into two
1½ inch piece ginger, chopped
2 tablespoons garlic paste
1½ tablespoon ginger paste
½ teaspoon fennel seeds, powdered
3 tablespoon red chili powder
½ teaspoon garam masala powder
To fry, gingelly oil (sesame oil)
3/4 cup vinegar, approximately
2 teaspoons sugar
Cut the beef into small pieces, about 3/4 inch cubes. Mix in turmeric powder and salt. Pressure cook without adding water till beef is cooked (but take care not to overcook it). Open lid and boil off any excess water.
In a large pan, heat oil and deep fry beef in batches over medium heat. Stir every now and then. (Again, do not over cook/fry, or the beef pieces will become tough). Keep fried beef aside.
In the same pan, add more oil if required so that you have about a cup in it. Add mustard seeds followed by fenugreek seeds and let splutter. Toss in chopped ginger and garlic and fry well. The ginger and garlic pastes need to go in next. Fry till oil separates. Reduce heat and add chili powder, fennel seed powder and garam masala. Saute for a minute. Add meat and mix well so that meat is coated well with the fried paste. Add some oil if the mixture appears dry. Pour in 3 quarter cup vinegar and mix well. Bring to boil and mix in sugar. Take off heat and let cool. Transfer to clean glass jars and store in refrigerator.
~ I know it sounds like a lot of oil and vinegar, but it you don't add so much, the pickle may get spoilt and wouldn't taste quite like a pickle. The recipe quantities are approximate, you may need to add more oil and vinegar if the beef pieces don't seem to be properly coated with the pickling liquid.
~ If the pickle is meant to travel overseas along with you or your family, then don't add so much vinegar. Once the pickle reaches its destination, add in more vinegar.
~ Pickle taken out of the fridge doesn't taste as good as it should. So, you can store as much as you would need for a week in a small bottle outside.
Enjoy with rice, bread and roti, and don't share with anyone!