The neem flower is a tiny ingredient with stupendous curative powers. From protecting your gut, relieving painful migraines to keeping skin ailments at bay, these flowers are replete with blood-purifying properties.
The neem tree ideally flowers during spring. The best way to harvest these flowers is by collecting them on a clean cloth or a mat from under the flowering tree. You can then rinse the flowers in a large sieve, sundry and store them in a dry air-tight container. Radha Prathi suggests a few recipes using this bitter condiment.
Neem Flower Rasam
Ingredients: A tbsp of neem flowers; 1 tbsp of cumin seeds; 1 tbsp of tur dal; 1 tbsp of peppercorns; 2 red chillies; 1 tbsp of tamarind extract; ½ tsp of mustard seeds; 1 tsp of ghee; a sprig of curry leaves and salt to taste.
Method: Grind the cumin seeds, pepper, chillies, tur dal and curry leaves to a fine powder. Add tamarind extract, the powder, and salt to a litre of water and allow it to boil to half its quantity on a low flame. Add another half a litre of water and bring the contents to a boil. For the tempering, add ghee to a pan and toss in the mustard seeds before turning off the heat. Then add neem flowers to the pan and sautÃ© them lightly. Add the tempering to the rasam along with some curry leaves. Serve the rasam hot as it is or with some hot rice and ghee.
Neem Flower Rice
Ingredients: A tbsp of neem flower; a pinch of asafoetida; ½ tsp of pepper powder; 1 tbsp of ghee; 1 tbsp of lemon juice and salt to taste.
Method: Heat the ghee in a pan and toss in the asafoetida and the neem flowers before turning off the heat. Add pepper powder, lemon juice, and salt and allow the mixture to stand for 10 minutes. Add the mixture to a tablespoon of freshly cooked rice. Serve immediately.
Neem Flower Podi
Ingredients: A small cup of neem flower; a pinch of asafoetida; ½ tsp of turmeric powder; 1 tbsp of peppercorns; 2 sprigs of curry leaves; a tbsp of ghee and salt to taste.
Method: Heat the ghee in a pan and toss in the turmeric powder, asafoetida, peppercorns and curry leaves and turn off the heat. Add the neem flowers to the pan and sautÃ© them. Grind all the roasted ingredients together with salt. Store the mixture in an airtight container. You can mix the powder with rice for a healthy meal.
Neem Flower Pachchadi
Ingredients: Two tbsps of neem flower; 2 tbsps of jaggery; 2 red chillies; ½ tsp of mustard seeds; 2 tbsps of tamarind juice; a pinch of asafoetida; 1 tbsp of oil and ½ tsp of salt.
Method: Grind the chillies, jaggery, salt, together and mix it with the tamarind paste. Heat a pan, add oil, toss in the mustard seeds and asafoetida and turn off the heat. Then add the neem flowers and saute them well. Add the previously prepared spice mixture. Stir well and the pachchadi is ready to be served.