Pickle making is undoubtedly an age old tradition in India.Commonly known as “Achar” and served as a condiment or an accompaniment while complementing every Indian meal,adding a sweet n spicy zest to the palette.
Often thought of as a digestive if eaten in small quantities. Pickles are fairly native to the Indian sub continent and consist of a varieties of raw fruits or vegetables that are preserved in Salt, Spices,Oil and Vinegar.
While raw Mangoes reign supreme,Lemons, Carrots, Green chilies etc too form the basis of most pickles,all though pickling styles and methods per say may vary from region to region.A pickle made in Northen India will vary very much from its counter part in the south, primarily due to the oil used. Mustard oil in the northern states and Sesame oil in the southern ones seem to be predominant choices.
Most North Indian pickles use a variety of mangoes,chilli and lemon.Some even a multitude of vegetables like the Lotus stem,Amla (Indian gooseberry) Limes and Peas like in the popular “Panchranga” pickle of the north.In Southern India, many vegetables are sun-dried with spices, taking advantage hot and sunny days throughout the year, thus making pickles an everyday affair. The sun-drying the pickles acts as a preservative for the vegetable, along with spices such as Mustard, Fenugreek seeds, Chili powder, Salt, Asafoetida, and Turmeric.
I have several wonderful memories of partaking in the ritual of pickle making in my grandmothers kitchen,having spent numerous childhood years with her in Mumbai.
Summers essentially translated into loads of raw mangoes at the onset of the season ,prior to the ripened varieties that flooded the fresh markets later on.Her home made pickles also inculded a host of Lemons, Green chillies, Mixed vegetables like Cauliflower,Carrots and Turnips. My maternal grand mother was quite known for her prized “Brinjal Pickle” and a mean and spicy “Prawn pickle too.Most spicy pickles would be mixed along with pickling spices such as Fennel, Cumin, Fenugreek seeds,, Mustard seeds, Chilli powder, Salt, Oil and the sweeter variety would often contain Cinnamon, Star Anise, Jaggery and Sugar.
While its not certain how this tradition originated,ancient Indian culture probably resorted to pickling as a form of preserving food for extended periods of time,whereby Salt,Sugar and Oil acted as preservatives and the process of drying the pickle in the sun helped cure the pickle and made them shelf stable.
We were on a recent trip to Mumbai and as most of us have been under a lock down for several months,feeling anxious and despaired was only natural.Well fortunately for me taking over the kitchen and cooking for the family was a activity I would look forward to everyday.Getting creative and learning a new recipe was always welcome.Now while I owe my inherent cooking and baking skills to my lovely mother who has a great ability to adapt and reinvent new recipes, and who I must admit has a very creative and modern style to her cooking.My Mum-in-law on the other hand is a wonderful cook too,and a traditionalist in her kitchen.I have learned scores of Goan-Maharastrian recipes under her guidance and experimented with a variety of foods and flavours over the years.
With an abundance of Mangoes in season in Mumbai,one is spoilt for choice and just before the “Hapus” or the ripe “Alphonsos” hit the markets, the green raw Mango or also know as the Kairi work just wonders for pickle making, be it a savoury or sweet. It would be worth a mention that these gorgeous green Mangoes were picked off the the Mango tree in our backyard in Mumbai.Organic produce at its best.A tedious and laborious affair every summer when help from outside is engaged for the “Mango Plucking”activity in our yard, while we all wait at our windows excitedly,awaiting our fair share of the “King of Fruits”.
Here is an absolutely easy and delicious way to celebrate summer’s favourite fruit, raw Mangoes into a sweet and tangy pickle. All credits to my dear mum in law for taking me through this delectable recipe.I do hope you enjoy making this in your homes too.The flavours of this raw and exotic fruit along with a medley of spices hint of Cinnamon,Star Anise,Fennel and of-course generous amount of Sugar, add an intense flavour to this sweet pickle making it finger licking good and addictive too!
- 500 grams Raw green Mangoes (peeled & sliced)
- 650 grams granulated white sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons chilli powder
- 3 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 2 sticks whole cinnamon
- A pinch of asafoetida (optional)
- 2-3 pieces star anise
- Wash the green mangoes throughly and peel them.
- Remove the seed and slice the mangoes into medium with slices.
- Keep the sliced mangoes in a glass bowl and add the sugar,salt,sugar,chilly powder,fennel seeds,cinnamon sticks, star anise and asafoetida.
- Cover this and let the mango marinate in the pickling spices for a couple of hours or till the sugar dissolves and you have a fairly liquid consistency.
- Add the marinated mango into a thick bottom pan and cook on slow heat,whilst stirring occasionally.
- Cook the mango pickle till the slices are almost cooked and the syrup has a medium to thick consistency.
- Cool the pickle and store in a clean and sterile glass jar.
- This can be left at room temperature for a couple of weeks.