Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Quick mango avakkai (spicy mango pickle)

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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.

Oh well.

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.


Mika said...

I love avakkai and your quick version sounds yummy! Nice blog. I hoope you don't mind adding you to my list of Indian blogs.

Radha said...

hmmm... I wonder if this would work without the salt :)

tanvi said...

mmm i love mango pickle! i eat it with rice and yogurt- yum. i also love chhunndo, of course, being gujarati :-)

ps. im enjoying your blog!

Anonymous said...

Mika - it IS yummy, even though I do say so myself :)

Anonymous said...

Radha - try it w/o the salt! Wonder how lemon juice would affect it...

Anonymous said...

Tanvi - thanks... I've been reading your blog for a while now, it's good fun.

Mika - forgot to say thanks for linking me :)

Indira said...

You have a food blog too. Took sometime to found this site. I went through all your blogs, liked all of them. Why the secrecy with this blog(as you mentioned in comments)?
Love the bright red color of avakai, quite liberal with oil, aren't you?)- I know.. pickles need oil.

Anonymous said...

Hi Indira - thanks for taking the time to drop by :) Reason I was being low-key about this... I dunno, just wasnt sure how long I could keep up a food blog.. didnt want to start with a bang and end with a whimper, so to speak.

And yes, too much oil in my avakkai but at least it wont grow mold! :) Pickles DO need oil, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Petunia, I havent used canola oil at all. I mostly use vegetable or sunflower oil for Indian cooking. Peanut oil is good, too. The oil I used for this pickle is good ol' refined sunflower oil.

Anonymous said...

God, the pickles look so good and mouth is watering here, Shyam!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Ravi :) Mine did too, while i was making it!

Anonymous said...

Wow Shammi. U've got some great Tamilnadu recipes. Thanks for sharing.

Indira, thanks to you since it is from your site I picked up the link to Shammi's blog.

Btw, Shammi, for some reason, I am not able to see the pictures on your blog. Is there anything extra I need to do?



GV Barve - Gokhale said...

Hmm,mouth watering pickle!!!Your quick version, I am gonna try it!!!
Btw, Visit my blog if you wish..

danny said...

i've just cooked some up, tastes great. nice blog.