Its a fairy tale memory. Rains lashing deafeningly on the asbestos roof, The Ataphol (sweetsop fruit) tree swaying in the approaching storm, the fragrance of sticky rice and fried potatoes being cooked on the Chulha, mud stove, and I am tucked into a Kaathaa, patchwork quilt, on a four poster bed; my sticky hands smeared with Boroi Aachar. Its over 30 years now but the taste and smell of this Aachaar doesn’t fade. It haunts, forcing me to buy poor, city cousin lookalikes which are a disappointment. Primarily these pickles are a mis mash of 80% tamarind and 20% Boroi.
Boroi or Kul or Jujube or Indian Plum; for lack of a better name; grows wild in Assam. There are many variants but the one that goes into my grandmother’s pickle looks like this
On a surprise weekend trip to ‘Manoribel’ which is a quaint Seaside resort near Bombay, I once agin chanced upon this berry. My daughter Zenobia joined in my joy and skittled around collecting the fallen berries, which were strewn all around the Manoribel grounds. My little rabbit collect more than a kilo of these. Oh! how I rejoiced
Over the next 5 days the berries were sun dried and then popped open to check for worms. Which sadly diminished this Boroi treasure to just half a kilo.
I shredded about 250 grams of jaggery (1:2 proportion to the Boroi).
In a pot, I added a glass of water to this jaggery,and brought it to boil. As the jaggery bubbled and thickened a little, I added the Boroi to it, sprinkled salt to taste, put on a lid and let it soften on low flame.
Separately on an iron skillet I prepared the magical Bangali Bhaja Moshla
Bangali Bhaja Moshla
Dry Roast and then Grind the following
Cumin Seeds-2 tsp
Coriander Seeds-2 tsp
Fennel seeds-2 tsp
Tej patta- 1 Big or 2 small
Cinnamon Stick-1 small
Red Whole Chillies–6-8 (depending on heat tolerance)
The Boroi will soften and become slightly gooey in 30 mins. Add a little water if its sticking to the pot and a little more jaggery if you find the pickle too tangy for your taste. To this add the Bhaja Moshla and cook further ; approx 15 more mins; till the Boroi mix turns a wine-brown shade. Add Paanch Phoron and cook for another 5 mins.
Your pickle is ready. Let it cool and then bottle in an air-tight Glass or Ceramic pickling jar(Barani). keep this in the sun for 2-4 days for an added flavour, but really no self-respecting toddler would allow this to happen The pickle must be stolen and polished off before the stipulated sunning days get over. May mine outlast my daughter’s AND my parents’ greed. Amen