I know you have had enough with green mangoes. But, it is mango time here in Delhi: all kinds of ripe mangoes to eat – Chausa and Lungda varieties have arrived, and green ones to pickle and make into chutney. This season I have made a sweet-sour mango chutney and three kinds of mango pickle: Maharashtrian-style amba lonche, Andhra-style fiery pickle with garlic, and also a batch of Punjabi-style mango pickle. I have attempted the Punjabi pickle after a gap of many years since the husband’s loyalties had shifted to the famous Pachranga brand. There was no point competing with this well-known brand and if he preferred it to the home-made recipe, that much less pickle making for me.
The Punjabi-style mango pickle though, is the pickle I grew up on. As kids we would rinse out the pieces and eat just the pickled mango, sucking on the stone-skin for a long-long time till there was no saltiness left. That was the only mango pickle we had known until one day, mom bought home a bottle of Bedekar’s amba lonche (a lot like this one, except that the mangoes are chopped fine instead of being shredded). It was nothing like our mango pickle! And because it was so different, it became a favourite immediately.
North-Indian pickles have a flavour profile completely different from those from central and southern regions of the country. The spices used are different, generally used whole, and the oil of choice is mustard oil. Kashmiri pickles are even more basic – the pickling vegetables combined with whole rai (smaller mustard) and coriander seeds, powdered red chilli, and salt. The most loved of Kashmiri pickles is the one made with kohl rabi and its greens. Cauliflower, and onions are also pickled in a similar fashion. The vegetables to be pickled are prepared (large chunks as usual) and sun dried for a day. These are mixed with the spices, salt and oil and packed into jars that are then put out into the sun till they are done. Since the oil used it raw, it takes a few weeks to cook in the sun, by which time the vegetables have cured and absorbed the flavours and the pickle is ready to eat.
Those of you who do not have access to green mangoes need not lose heart; the recipe makes an excellent mixed vegetable pickle as well!
Before you go, I wanted to ask you what might you like to cook for the annual tea party next month. We missed it last year but I think it would be well worth our whiles to have a get-together – a virtual tea party! The first one was prompted by a debate on what constitutes a healthy and balanced diet. We all concluded a bit of deep frying every now and then is for the good of all concerned. Another time we highlighted the plague that is plagiarism.
What are the food-related issues you feel strongly about? We could use this occasion to bust some food myths too while we have ourselves a good party!
Aam ka achaar
(Punjabi-style green mango pickle)
750gms green mangoes*
250 gms (about 2C) karonde (natal plum)
1″ piece ginger, julienne
4T saunf (fennel seeds)
2T methi dana (fenugreek seeds)
1T kalonji (nigella seeds)
2t red chilli powder
2 C mustard oil
* you may use limes or lemons, or a mix of vegetables such as lotus roots, turnips, limes, jackfruit, amla etc.
Rinse and wipe mangoes dry. Top off at the stem end and then cut into 3/4″ size pieces retaining the hard inner shell. Discard the stones. Spread the prepared fruits on cotton fabric and leave in the sun for a day. Alternately, leave them in a dry place indoors, preferably with a fan on, to get rid of some of the moisture. In a non-reactive bowl combine all the ingredients with half the oil and mix well. transfer to a clear, dry jar. Keep in the sun for a day and top with the remaining oil. Mix the contents of the jar with a dry spoon every day for the next few days. Keep in the sun (or a sunny window sill) for a couple of weeks till the oil has mellowed. Best served as an accompaniment to North Indian meals.