Recipes Born Of Nostalgia: Mavalli Kizhangu Oorugai / Pickle

It is summer and this time usually makes me nostalgic. Many memories resurface like the countless hours spent with my nose in a book (no schoolwork!), just chilling with friends under the shade of Gulmohars in IISc and my trips to my maternal grandparents’ home in Salem, Tamil Nadu for the summer holidays. The latter is associated with fond memories of the time spent with cousins and my paati’s (grandmother) food!

Food was a way in which she expressed her love for us. I vividly remember our frequent special dinners – we cousins would sit around her in a semi-circle in the open verandah under the moonlight with little plates of appalam (papad) and oorugai (pickle). She would mix rice with sambar/rasam/curd and put a ball of it in our palms and we would gobble it up. Believe me, a more delicious meal was never had, immaterial of what was on the menu. We ALWAYS ate more than what we would eat if served on our individual plates. I guess this also was a way to make sure all the children ate without any fuss. These sessions were made more special with the stories we traded and the competition to see who would get the last bite.  How I miss those times and what I would not do to go back in time just one more time….

One of the food items that I miss most of my paati’s is the mavalli kizhangu oorugai. It is a pickle made from a root and is very pungent in both smell and taste. You either love it or absolutely can’t stand it…there is no middle ground! I have not had the one she has made in over 20 years since she passed away. Though I have had ones made by my aunts and mom, I still miss the OG taste. So when I recently visited Malleshwaram (an old part of Bangalore), and came across a lady selling mavalli kizhangu, I knew I had to try my hand at making the pickle. It is pretty simple really and here is the recipe my mom gave me for it.


  • Mavalli kizhangu 250 grams
  • Salt 1 ½ Tsp
  • Tumeric ¼ Tsp
  • Red chili powder ¾ Tsp
  • Curd 150 ml


  • Soak the mavalli kizhangu for a bit and wash it. This is a root and will have a lot of mud. So rinse, rinse, rinse, and rinse again!
  • Peel the root and cut it into small pieces. The flesh part is around a stick, which is what we want to use. The stick has to be discarded.
  • You can give the pieces another rinse to get rid of any mud/dirt residue.
  • Mix the salt, turmeric, and chili powder in the curd.
  • Add the mix to the cut pieces of mavalli kizhangu and give it a good mix so that everything is well coated.
  • Wait for 10 minutes and then transfer the pickle into an airtight glass jar.

That’s it! Now just wait for it to ferment for a fortnight or so and you can enjoy the mavalli kizhangu oorugai with curd rice! Yummy food for the summer heat!

The curd mix for the pickle needs to just about coat the pieces. There is no need to dilute it. The pickle will automatically leave water as it ferments. The longer you let it ferment, the yummier it tastes!

The mavalli kizhangu is not a summer specialty. It is more of a winter root that is grown in hills and forests. It is mainly grown in South India and is also called as Magali Kizhangu in Tamil or Magali Beru in Kannda. It is known as Decalepis Hamiltonii in English. It is not very easily available, though you may find it in older markets of South India. I associate the pickle with summer because of my visits to my grandparents during this time.


As I grow older, I often think back to the simpler and happy days of my childhood. A big part of that was food and some are very specific to our family or a particular member. Though I am not a great cook, I thought of putting together those recipes from my family together as my legacy for the next generation. So do look forward to more from my #RecipesBornOfNostalgia series.

This blog is dedicated to my maternal grandparents – Mani Tattaa & Nagam Paati – and to my cousins, aunts, and uncles who made all my summers so beautiful and memorable.


This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla in collaboration with Monidipa Dutta.  

About Author


Blogger, Content Creator, Knowledge Facilitator, Hobby Photographer & Mom To A Naughty Dalmatian.


  1. I’ll come and taste if you have some at home! 😉

    1. Come on! But I think you may have had it once…..I had bought back a store purchased one one one of my Salem trips.

  2. I didn’t know about this root, so I looked it up. It has so much medicinal value. Quite sad that we can’t find it in North India. The pickle is so easy to make, I would surely like to try the recipe.

    1. Hope you get to taste it. Yes…it has some good properties as well. Unfortunately very difficult to procure

  3. I can only thank you for sharing this beautiful recipe for your Paati’s Mavalli kizhangu oorugai.THis is something you don’t get in restaurants and through this post, I have discovered something new about food. Food is the best kind of memory!

    1. Thank you Preeti. You are right….this pickle is not served in restaurants. Atleast I haven’t seen it in any that I have visited across the South States.

  4. The recipe sounds tempting to me and I agree its nostalgic when some recipe reminds us about our childhood days and especially about someone who loved us so much. We take time to understand the essence of such love but when understand at least for me tears roll round from my eyes. I want to know as you added curd in it… will it be right store it for long even in freeze… will it not hamper the quality of the food if stored for long. Please guide me so that I can at least give it a try.

    1. I have stored it even for year so that it lasts till my next trip. No issues. I guess the spices and juices help the fermentation & it doesn’t spoil

  5. Kaveri Chhetri says:

    I can totally totally relate to the nostalgia bit Vasu, as I have similar fond memories of my granny and certain things that only she cooked the best.
    I had never thought u could keep something in curd for so long… my first thought was, doesnt curd spoil fast? nonetheless, i would definitely want to try this pickle… keep for me ok😉

    1. Yes….come & taste it 😋

  6. Though I am not aware of this root and the pickle, your memories took me to another world. The nostalgic moments are the top reason to stay cheerful:)

    1. Enjoy you trip down memory lane 💖

  7. Your post made me nostalgic and reminded me of the good old days. This is the first time I am reading about the root. The recipe is quite easy and I will try to find if I can get the root.

    1. I really do hope you find it though I haven’t heard of it being available in the North. Would love to hear your views as you are such a great cook.

  8. maravalli kizhangu has numerous health benefits. Vadai is commonly made in my home. pickle seems to be new to me. but simple and easy it seems to be as a recipe.

    1. Vadai? Really??? Have never tried it. Do share the recipe….will try it the next time I find the kizhangu

  9. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Vasumathi. Reminded me of summer vacations when all of us cousins would get together. The mango orchard at the farm was the cherry on top. I haven’t heard of mavalli kizhangu and am curious to know more about it.

    1. It is usually not found in the North. Even in the south, it is not very common.

  10. They say old is gold, let it be people or memory. I clearly could see the love and feeling associated with the feeding and the way you remember those days. Thanks for sharing this beautiful post. Brought me memories of my childhood though it was not this close but a little near.

    1. Enjoy & relive the memories !

  11. I love the way you have weaved nostalgia with your love for this pickle. I immediately googled the availablility of this root in my location and alas it ain’t. Would’ve surely loved to try your recipe.

    1. Sadly it is not very commonly available. Even in the south, very few places carry it

  12. Your nostalgic memories brought a smile to my face! There’s something truly special about the simple joys of summers past. The way your paati expressed her love through food sounds absolutely heartwarming. Those moments of sitting under the moonlight, surrounded by family, and enjoying the delicious combination of rice, sambar/rasam/curd must have created lifelong memories
    This pickle is so easy to make, I would surely like to try the recipe 😋

    1. Simple times but treasured memories….

  13. I don’t know about this root. but the way you describe then it must be tempting. Our granny made the best meal, pickle recipe and papad ever. I do have many childhood memories like your Vasumati. love the pickle recipe.

    1. Thank you Neeta

  14. I don’t know whether I’ll ever eat this pickle anytime soon since I reside in Delhi. However, what this post has done is rake up nostalgia and beautiful memories of my grandma as well. Simple, joyous childhood days sprinkled with love and laughter with worries tossed in the air – those moments stay with us forever.Food is a lot about emotions. The OG pickle maker in the surrounding of the open verandah with cousins chomping on papads and pickle in moonlight, will never be recreated and hence it’s going to be difficult for you to replicate the eating pleasure of mavalli kizanghu. If I ever get my hands on the root, I will turn to this post for the recipe.
    Also, as a food writer who has done enough research on food, it amazes me the number of dishes, desserts, pickles, condiments that is made in our country. There is so much to taste and learn about food in India. Thanks for acquainting me with this pickle. I never knew of it before. Loved the post! Thank you for the share. 🙂

    1. I highly doubt you will find this in Delhi as it is not easily available even in the south. And you are right….Indian food has such a lot of variety and memories attached to them

  15. Aastha says:

    making pickles at home are one of my many memories with my Nani. Thank you for refreshing them with this post.

    1. Thank you Aastha

  16. Summer nostalgia is the same with everyone, isn’t it? I remember seeing Mom, Nani and then my MIl. make jars of pickles for home and others too. What fun memories those are! I haven’t heard of this root though. It has curd and no oil, so curious. Does it stay good for long?

    1. It does. I have had the one my granny made for more than a year infact…. making it last as far as possible till my next trip. I guess the spices help in fermentation and it does spoil

  17. It kinda looks like slim tapioca 🙂 I have never heard of this root though I hail from the South. So I am definitely curious to check this out. Thanks for the detailed recipe with pictures and kudos to the effort you have put in to write this post.

    1. Yes it is similar to tapioca and many ppl confuse the 2 also. But they are very different in taste. This one is found in hilli regions and smaller markets in towns closeby

  18. I would love to try making this pickle! my husband is a big Chator and all sorts of pickels fascinate him, especially the ones from the South!

    1. Do try it if you find the root and let me know how he liked it. It is fairly simple to make but quite difficult to procure.

  19. I do feel you, your post reminds me of my good old times when I was in school and Summer Vacations were more joyful than an international trip. We would have all local delicacies made by my Granny, my maternal grand mother. I would wait for my Summer vacation for 11 months every year and never got enough of these trips and slowly these trip started fading away. I have all memories now, only memories…..

    1. Simpler times but the joy & bonding was unmatched

  20. This is so new to me! I didn’t even know that root nor know any other similar recipe like this. It only show how diverse Indian. culture can be and how special your food is!

    1. Indian food uses so many things….leaves, stem, flowers and ofcourse the vegetable itself

  21. I have almost similar memories of my childhood. In my case, it was not my grandmother but the neighbour aunty who was the most accomplished cook I know. We were 5 siblings, 5 cousins and Aunty’s four daughters. We were made to sit in a semi-circle and one mudda or ball of food was placed in our palms. We waited patiently for our turn. I wish we could go back to those carefree, happy days. Is this pickle made of lotus stem? It looks like that only. MY mom used to cook them when we got them, which was rare indeed.

    1. So nice….I think this kind of ‘community eating’ with the kids is a South thing….never heard of it from the north folks

  22. This recipe is something new for me I haven’t heard about the root which you shared. I will surely check it out and give it a try.

    1. Do try it if you find the root. You will either love it or run away from it for life 😂

  23. I am from the south of India too, but my family never made this pickle. Wait…maybe they did, but I never tried it. I was a super fussy eater as a child. We were a joint family and as you mention my paati too would show her love through her cooking. Such wonderful days; you made me nostalgic!

    1. We were a joint family too with my paternal grandparents staying with us. But this pickle was never made here. It was always my maternal grandmother and she would send it in a big Boost jar for me to get back home 😁

  24. Noor Anand Chawla says:

    What a lovely tribute! Food is the most nostalgic treat indeed.

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