Pirandai/ Hadjod/Adamant creeper Chutney.

I love it that ancient botanists- herbalists were very literal people. But they might as well have placed neon signs on this plant when they called it Hadjod or Asthisamharaka or Bone-setter. Like, no imagination required. If ancient Raju sprained his ankle from playing ancient games, ancient daadi would grind some Hadjod and apply a poultice to the ankle of ancient ghar ka chirag and next morning ancient Raju would be back to ancient mischief.
It’s laden with calcium, magnesium, antioxidants among a zillion other beneficial microgoodies, that will fix everything from a fracture to piles to menstrual issues to world peace- it is true though, if you don’t have fractures, piles or menstrual problems, the world will be peaceful.
Growing up at time when grocery shopping meant going to the backyard to forage, my long-suffering, long-dead mother used to yearn for the chutney or thoghayal made from this creeper (Pirandai in Tamil), so in a maudlin moment, I ordered a few cuttings from an online vendor thinking I’d grow it. They came wrapped in newspapers, looking near dead. But something has to be said about the fellow’s regenerative powers (Adamant Creeper is a befitting common name), that it never dies. I can forget to water it for weeks (I do) or water it excessively in guilt, nothing seems to harm it. And now in the rains it’s proliferating happily on my terrace.
Thuvaiyal, Thoghayal, Chutney in Tamil is a very simple, standard recipe. I don’t know why though. It’s like one fine day ancient Tamilians decided collectively that they had reached the acme of recipe development and no further R&D was required. The hero ingredient keeps changing, but all else remains EXACTLY the same ALWAYS:

Chopped Pirandai( just the top two or three tender segments of the stem, deridge, denode, deleaf, detendril after having oiled your hands beforehand, it can get itchy) : ½ cup, chopped into small bits
Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
Urad Dal: 1 tsp
Dried red chillies: 2-3
Grated coconut: 2tbsp
Tamarind: an inch sized bit
Sesame oil: 2tsp
Roast and brown the hadjod/ Pirandai in 1 tsp oil and remove
Roast and the remaining ingredients.
Grind all with a little water into a thick, coarse chutney. Salt to taste. It tastes delicious with steamed rice and a dollop of ghee.

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