Saturday, July 07, 2012

It's the Time to Mango ( Part 2)

Mango in its ripe form is best enjoyed during the season. ( I am no fan of the preserved pulp varieties). But it is the pickles that give Mango the immortality and enable them to be enjoyed throughout the year. 
The culinary diveristy in india is best captured in the varieties of pickles made across traditional households across india. 
This blog is dedicated to a few varieties of the Mango pickles that I have known.  
 Avakkai :
Usually associated as an Andhra specialtly, it dons different avatars in different regions.
The sourest and firmest of mangoes are chosen for the pickles . The mangoes are so firm that it is almost impossible cutting them into pieces at home with ordinary kitchen knife.

Avakkai mango seller in mylapore

Somewhere in the middle of the mango season ( usually mid-may) , the market is flooded with sour raw mangoes suitable for making the avakkai pickle. The enterprising seller also cuts them to pieces and sells it for a slight premium. The cut mangoes are then dried in the sweltering summer heat before they are pickled with copius amounts of oil, mustard and chilli powder into huge jars that last for almost the entire year till the next season of mangoes arrives.

The taste of Avakkai mango differs in every household with marked variations as you traverse east to west and north to south of south India.

The Andhra variety ( from the Vishakapatnam area) is usually pickled in mustard oil and chilly powder and is best relished as an accompaniment with ghee and rice.
In Tamil nadu the mustard oil is replaced by sesame oil . The avakkai thus pickled and stored in jars gets exported to dear ones living in faraway lands where it is relished as a great accomplishment to curd rice.
My personal favourite, the tender mango pickle. Maavadu is made pretty early in the season, much before the onset of the summer in its true form. Late March and early April, when the flowers in the mango orchards start withering and give rise to small tender mangoes, they are picked washed and sold by the kilogram.
They are then pickled whole in salt and chilly water. When the brine and the chilly soaks and shrinks the tender mango, it oozes out the tangy, chilly juice along with the raw mango pulp. Best eaten with curd mixed with Rice that is soaked overnight in water ('Pazhedu' for the conossieurs), Maavadu tastes divine in any season.
Chunda :
Chunda the gujarati version of mango pickle is the closest the western world gets to assocaite with the raw form of Indian mango. Thanks to the enterprising gujaratis, every Indian restaurant in the western world (Europe in particular) serves this as an accomplishment with poppadum and the rest of the indian fanfare.
Trandtional British Pub food - in Cheltenham of pilao rice, chicken tikka masala, popadum and mango chutney
Chunda in a traditional gujarati household is made in huge quantities during the sweltering summer heat. Shredded mango pieces are mixed with sugar and some spices and filled in pickle jars and covered with muslin cloth. This is then left to melt and mix itself on the terraces in the summer heat for days ( not the nights) before the traditional Chunda is ready for finger lickin' experience.

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