Sunday, 25 December 2011




     1)    Vadukapuli (giant bitter lemon native to Kerala) – 1 no. (approximately 550 gm.)

     2)    Ginger – a 2 inch piece
     3)    Hot green chilies – 6 Nos.
     4)    Dry hot red chilies – 6 Nos.
     5)    Mustard seeds – ½ teaspoon
     6)    Curry leaves – 3 sprigs
     7)    Gingelly oil (sesame oil) – 3 tablespoons
     8)    Turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon
     9)    Jaggery (unrefined cane sugar) – 350 gm.

     10)     Sugar – 50 gm.
     11)     Powdered salt – 7 heaped teaspoons
     12)     Hot red chili powder – 5½ teaspoons
     13)     Vinegar – 1 ounce (30 ml.)
     14)     Asafoetida powder – ¼ teaspoon

To Cook:

          Wash the vadukapuli. Dry it with a cloth, chop it as finely as you can with a sharp knife. Take care not to accidently cut yourself since the peel of the bitter lemon can be hard as plastic and the inside can be a bit fibrous. Set aside. Peel the ginger and chop finely together with the green chilies, the red chilies and the curry leaves. Set a small pan on low heat. Tip in the jaggery together with 100 ml. of water. Stir frequently till the jaggery is fully melted. Sieve and set aside.

          Set a large flat bottom stainless steel vessel on high heat. Pour in the gingelly oil and throw in the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds are about to finish crackling, tip in the finely chopped pieces of ginger, green chilies, red chilies and curry leaves. Stir till the pieces are slightly roasted. Now tip in the chopped vadukapuli. Stir well and tip in the chili powder, the turmeric powder and the powdered salt. Stir nicely.

          Now add the melted jaggery and the sugar. Let the curry boil on high heat stirring all the time till the jaggery is reduced to a thick syrupy consistency (great care must be taken not to allow the curry to stick to the base, for if it is burnt, the only thing to do is to throw it away). Tip in the asafoetida powder. Pour in half an ounce (15 ml.) of vinegar and stir well. Switch off the heat and let cool naturally.

          Select a clean dry airtight glass jar (preferably sun-dried). Use a clean dry spoon or ladle to carefully transfer the curry into a jar. Pour the rest of the vinegar on top of the curry and put on the lid tightly. Let the curry rest for at least a day. Use a dry teaspoon to serve tiny portions of the curry as a pickle-like side dish to rice or chappatis. Handled carefully, pulincurry will remain in good condition for months. Rough handlers can of course resort to refrigeration for longer use.


     1)    Do not serve to small children as they generally cannot stand the taste. Adults, especially older people, love this curry. Adventurous, brave foodies must try this rare, peculiar, unique, nearly forgotten traditional Kerala curry.

     2)    The pulincurry starts to transform to more of a jam-like consistency after 10 days. The bitter lemon pieces get candied and become tastier every passing day. A month old pulincurry is so tasty; you will find that the bitter lemon indeed is no longer bitter, but sweet.

Pulincurry after having rested for two weeks

     3)    Cleanliness and hygiene is of the utmost importance in the making and the storage of this curry. The jar and the spoon must be absolutely clean and dry. Not a drop of water must be splashed even by accident. If the curry is to last long, a used spoon should never be put back in the curry. In case that happens, the curry has to be reheated.

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