mostly about food and cooking, but also the stories about the Bread and the Butterflies!

The Mangoes are Sour

In Chutneys, Dips and Spreads, From the Garden, Low Fat, on the side, Preserves, Tea Party, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on May 20, 2008 at 8:29 pm

chopped mango

A big chunk of my readers live outside India. And all of them will appreciate how I have tried not to rub salt on their mangoes wounds this year. There has been no talk of mangoes, whatsoever, on this blog so far this year; no debate on which mango is the King, or that mango is King.

But ’tis the season and you all have access to reasonably good unripe sour mangoes. Sour mangoes are loved all over Asia, cooked with dal, with vegetables (it is the perfect foil for bittergourd), or enjoyed as a relish such as Pel’s nam prik wan kap mamuang khiew. And when you don’t want to fuss, just slice them up, dip in salt, and taste nirvana. Not as much fun today when my teeth sour much too quick, but a favourite summer activity when we were kids.

Much of the Indian crop of sour mangoes ends up as pickle. Mangoes preferred for pickle making are not the same as those that are ripened for the sweet fruit. From a bunch of hundreds of flowers that bloom in an inflorescence, only one or two ripen into a mature fruit. Some of the unripe fruit that drops to the ground is good for a quick pickle to tide over till the prized Ramkela arrives in late-June. My mum sent over some of the fallen fruit from her trees and I made it into a pickle (much like this) which was promptly devoured. With the really tiny ones I was hoping to make South Indian-style mavadu pickle but didn’t get around to it and the baby mangoes shrunk without the brine :( .

ramkela sour mango

It is believed that the best time for pickling mangoes is after the first monsoon rains are past. The monsoon arrives first at the Kerala coast, and takes a while to reach Delhi. So while those of you in peninsular India are getting ready to fill up your stoneware jars, I will be doing this annual ritual only in early July (pictures are from last year) – if the monsoons are on time. The stormy weather all through this week and last, here in Delhi, has made it seem a little bit like the monsoons though.

Sour mangoes make for great mint and coriander chutneys in the summer. With the following tip you can have sour mangoes year round to make your favourite chutneys!

ramkela sour mangoFor the Maharashtrian style pickle, sour mangoes are chopped into small dice. The portion with the stone has flesh that can only be removed in slivers and is unsuitable for pickling (it will soften too quick). It used to be my father-in-law’s job to scrape all the flesh off the stone of the 5 kilos of mangoes that were pickled every year. Preserved in salt these slivers would provide us with sour mango for chutneys all through the year.

The first time I tried to make this preserve I did not salt the mangoes enough, and it spoiled even under refrigeration. The trick is to put enough salt, and then some. And then some more. You cannot over-salt this. When made into chutney the mango pieces have all the salt you will need! I finished the last of my preserved mango last month coinciding with the arrival of fresh sour mangoes in the market. This time I had got my salting right and did not even need to use precious refrigerator space; the jar of salted mangoes shared shelf space amicably with all the other pickles in my kitchen cupboard.

salted mangoTo preserve sour mangoes layer sliced mango with salt (add handfuls of salt after every one-inch layer of mango) and fill the jar to the top. Top with more salt. Use in place of fresh sour mangoes; remember to reduce or omit salt from the recipe.

All of my salted mango preserve ends up in chutney such as this coriander-coconut chutney. Here is the recipe for another favourite chutney that is the perfect dip for pakoras and kababs.

Pudiney ki Chutney
(Mint Chutney)

2 small bunches fresh mint (enough leaves to fill a 4 quart mixing bowl), rinsed
fresh coriander (cilantro), half the amount of mint leaves
1 medium onion, quartered
10 hot green chillies (or to taste)
1 t cumin seeds
1 medium sour mango, peeled and slivered
salt

In the jar of your grinder add the onion at the bottom, then mango, and then the rest of the ingredients. Layering like this will release enough liquid quickly so that no water is needed for the chutney. Grind to a paste.
Variation: Use tomato in place of sour mango for an equally delicious chutney.

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  1. Ohh how can you be in India during mango season and not talk/write about it??
    I love mango pickle in all its forms. And the salted mango pieces….I am salivating :((

    :D Right! Sour green mangoes do trigger memories for all of us!

  2. “But ’tis the season and you all have access to reasonably good unripe sour mangoes.”

    huh?? we pay a bomb for those green-looking things here and when we cut them they are yellow. we get lucky with a real green mango maybe once or twice a year.

    The mangoes are sour after all then! Is there a market there then for preserved sour mangoes?! Maybe I should try selling the idea!

  3. Wow! I never knew about this simple preserve before…interchangeable with the more-usual lime juice in this chutney eh? I never tried it with onions; usually I add a bit of ginger and garlic paste, but will surely try this out…and also go a green-mango-huntin’….and yours just drop from the trees…[sighs]

    I paid attention when my MIL was in the kitchen…she would always refrigerate it though. Ii thought if we can brine other vegetables, and pickle mangoes…then why do I need to give up refrigerator space?

    This chutney is very very good :D . When it is mango season, I use green mangoes; the original recipe (had it at a collegemate’s home) used tomatoes.

    Yeah, I get a few handfuls of them green mangoes, but not for chutney – Amrapali ambis (green mangoes) are not sour enough.

  4. And yes, Bee is right. The two times in my life that I’ve found them they were hideously expensive!

    O well, there’s gotta be some upsides to living in a hot dusty country – we have the best mangoes (there I go) – green ones, and yellow ones! :D

  5. i just bought “one.”.yes uno mango to use in my fish curry for 2.5 dollars..go figure.. and u are making me want to take a cricket bat..grrr…

    Wow, that certainly is not cheap! Maybe we can put in some barter thing in place – all those who would like to receive a package of salt preserved sour mangoes, let me know how much and what the barter goods will be… :D

  6. I get green unripe mangoes that are yum and sour and tangy on the inside from time to time. A little person is always disappointed when this happens. Because when they’re yellow, they are sprinkled with salt and red chilli powder and devoured right away.

    As for ripe mangoes, my nirvana is in Ataulfo mangoes. Carbon footprint is smaller than that of the Indian / Thai mangoes and they taste almost as good as hapoos.

    Like Pel, I don’t put onion in my chutneys. The smell and taste of raw onions lingers. But I will surely try this recipe. Maybe next weekend even.

    What? You like Altu-faltoo mangoes?! :D You, the champion of the mighty Alphonso, switched allegiance? What will our farmers do? You traitor…
    Raw onion smell? No worse than raw garlic, I assure you! You try and tell me, ok…

  7. mint-coriander-onions w/ green mangoes.
    so many favourites in one chutney.
    if only i could get a good kairee. inspite of the steep price the quality is consistently inconsistent.

    Look out for the madteaparty brand on the grocery shelf at your friendly neighbourhood market soon….

  8. mangoes for risotto LOL! no seriously we do not get raw mangoes here unless you consider those green ones they try to sell as ripe mangoes here. i love the idea of this pickle.

    I like! How much for 1lb of arborio? LOL

  9. That’s a mouthwatering post Anita….I used up some small raw mangoes in Pudina-coriander chutney, instead of lemon juice and added some sugar to balance it out, like a typical Gujarati green chutney…as I see in your pics, you seem to be having a good bounty there from your mom’s tree!

    I made this chutney when my parents were over, but it got finished without being photographed…
    No, the bounty on these pages depicts the ramkela variety of pickling mangoes – from the market. What my mother grows are these beauties!

  10. Hi Anita,

    Lovely post..reading your blog makes me so miss ‘saddi dilli':(
    Luckily, I do manage to find raw mangoes in Singapore, else it would have truly been a case of sour mangoes er..grapes !

    :D Do share some local recipes on your blog, please!

  11. Iknow, I’ve been going a bit overboard with pickling mangoes. Suddenly realised the monsoons would be here in about 2 -3 weeks!
    Couln’t pickle any baby mangoes this year either. But I have some left over from what I pickled last year and this will have to do me.

    I might get some baby mangoes all the way from Chennai soon! Do you have the recipe on your blog?

  12. I’ve been fooled soo many times by the green outer color of the mangoes just to find a yellow tasteless hard fruit inside :( My mom makes a fresh theanga-maanga (coconut-mango) chutney with green mangoes that is absolutely yummmyy Anita, give it a try when you can, goes really well with dosa’s and rice.
    Lovely pics, I want to get one of those mango pieces out of the jar and suck on them all day :D I can’t wait to go to Houston this weekend cos my brother told me that the stores there stock green & ripe mangoes :)

    The chutney ingredients are coconut, green chillies, green mangoes, coriander?
    I hope you were able to get yourself some good green mangoes!

  13. Phew! I thought I was the only one ageing incapable of biting into raw salted mangoes… thanks for linking me!!

    Aging happens…and mostly, I find positives! :D

  14. i love green sour mangoes.;in philippines we normally eat it with some fermented baby shrimps called bagoong. seeing your photos makes me crave for this food.love green mangoes!!

    Sour green mangoes are bound to be loved in our tropical countries – I am going to search for some Philippine recipes!

  15. cute pickle. See you re browsing other blogger recipes. Hope you re participating my Tried and Tasted event this month then. It is all about cooking from other´s blogs.

    Of course! See you there!

  16. Sour mangoes are good :) Magoes ARE good in any form!! I can enjoy this goodness from your blog, a big hug to you for that :). Raw mangoes, salt and chilli powder, the mere mention of these things is enough to make me drool ;).

    Sour mangoes share the top spot with tamarind on my list of childhood treats. Those were simple times, of course.

  17. Tomatoes are in the original chatni recipe?! That’s totally new to me…but why not? I imagine green tomatoes might also be nice!

    Well, Anita…I went in search of green mangoes and found some right away. :-) I bought three from the first store: the first two that I cut were marvelously pale, crisp and tart (not as tart, I imagine, as very small, very young ones would be- depending on variety of course); the third was a bit yellow and the shell of the pit stopped my knife dead in its tracks (with the first two I was able to cut right through the pit!). Then, a while later, I decided to grab just one more for the day at another store; I bought two this time…I even squeezed them a bit in the bin first! And guess what? Both were yellow- one too soft (and a touch sweet) to count, the other just barely passed as “green”. And there, in a walnut-shell, you have it: 3 out of 5… for $2.59 a pound! (the main problem here being that I recently had my first taste of a homemade mango pickle. Did I ever- within the bounds of my over-long commentary to date- say that amla was my favorite? I must denounce that fallacious statement!)

    Green tomatoes? Why not?! Verde verde good, I’m sure.
    That seems to be a good price compared to what mallugirl had to pay, and 3/5 is not a bad score. Besides, it’s not like the 2 are going to go waste… :D
    Ah, mango pickle…naturally the king of pickles! I’m thinking I might be making a LOT of mango pickle this year!

  18. Sadly sour mangoes are a thing of the best because they set my teeth on edge now . But yes , your post brought back memories of my mother and her pickle making – such a to do – with mangoes, rock salt, masalas , brine – a virtual industry . I did repeat the exercise last year but have so far only pickled one large jar this year! You have inspired me to post though !

    BTW – came here through Lydia’s blog

    Small price to pay for the wisdom age brings ;-) . One jar already…not bad – I have some time, till then I will be making instant pickle.

  19. Oh, I hope you do! And if you make an excess I know a great (a)cha(a)rity that is happy to take donations! :-)

    Of course – I had that charity in mind myself… :D

  20. Hi Anita,

    great to have you back. have a request( yeah, i ask you a plenty!!)pl give me atleast a basic recipe for instant achar with kairi(the type you make and have in an hour or two)wanted to make achar, unfortunately dont have the capability currently to make the long drawn ones.

    many thanks & luv
    zinnia
    PS: more than your posts (which i luv absolutely) i look forward to your mails & comments…why you may ask? well that’s because you come across as a very warm & caring person:)

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