Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Unripe mangoes are difficult to come by in my local Tesco or Asda - well, let's say, those that are deliberately unripe, that is. I've had a couple of mangoes from there which were supposed to be sweet but weren't - but that's another story.
I love pickles - or oorugai - as they are known in Tamil. "Pickle" doesnt quite convey the correct meaning in English, because pickles as they are known in the western world are never chilli-hot... they're usually vinegary. Oorugai arent exactly relish, either, because relish is usually sweet-sour and, again, fairly vinegary. There isn't an exact translation from the Tamil to English. Or, for that matter, from the Hindi achaar either.
Anyway, pickle-making in India can be a long-drawn-out, complicated affair. Especially if you're from Andhra Pradesh, which makes the most wicked ones imaginable. If you know a good Andhra cook who makes authentic avakkai and is willing to share the finished product with you... consider yourself blessed.
Almost any vegetable can be made into pickle, Indian-style, but mango pickle is my personal favourite. I love it any way - grated and cooked into a gooey mess with red chilli powder and various spices (thokku); cut into small pieces with skin on, tossed with chilli powder and salt (molaga mangai) for instant gratification; salted, sun-dried, mixed with a fantastic combination of powdered spices and condiments, Andhra-style (avakkai); shredded and made into a sweet-sour relish that's heavenly with parathas (Chhundoo) North Indian style - I'll eat it all.
But since I dont have the patience nor do I get the strong sunshine necessary for sun-curing pickle, I made up my own recipe for instant "avakkai", a sort of amalgamation of various recipes I've read or been told about. It's beautifully simple, and it only needs an hour or so before it's ready to eat. Actually I didnt bother waiting the hour and it tasted just as yummy anyway.
Recipe for: Quick mango avakkai
Unripe green mangoes, seed discarded and cut into small pieces - 2 cups
1 tbsp fenugreek seeds
3 tbsp black mustard seeds
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
4 tsp red chilli powder (or to taste)
1-1/4 cups cooking oil
1. Mix the cut mango pieces with the salt and red chilli powder, and set aside for about 10 minutes. Use a heat-proof bowl for this.
2. Blend the fenugreek seeds and mustard seeds together into a fine powder. Use a spice grinder or coffee grinder for maximum effect. Mix the powder with the mangoes.
3. Heat the oil until a droplet of water flicked into it splutters. Pour the oil over the mango-spice mixture and stir until well-blended.
This pickle is ready to eat at once but it will taste better for sitting a couple of hours to let the spices mellow a little. Stir well everytime, before eating.
This should keep well for about a week without refrigeration, as long as you dont use a wet spoon to stir it.