May 19, 2010

Sweet Mango Pickle - Amma's Recipe

This sweet mango pickle takes me places. It takes me to places that I lived as a 12-year old, in a house that had a huge kitchen, the time that we had the hottest summers in Kottayam and the baths we used to take under the backyard tap in the dusky evening light. The hot dosas for dinner and this sweet and slightly sour pickle that complemented the dosas like not even coconut chutney could. The bottle was brought out when there were chapatis and parathas on the table too.

Easily, the best part of this recipe is that fact that amma came up with it just like that one hot, sweaty Kerala summer day. She was slicing onions, oh so fine like she normally does, and then randomly took a couple of raw mangoes from the counter-top and starting putting together this condiment that would later be made again and again and filled in many many bottles, devoured by her youngest daughter with practically anything, and sent to relatives and friends who were near and far.

The sesame oil and the near-burnt fengreek seeds create a symphony with the chopped onions and mangoes that's hard to describe. It gels with anything you spread it on, making the meal magically taste better. Just like mothers spread their love and support on everything and magically make your life better. This is my soul-food, my comfort, amma's love. Also check out her instant mango pickle recipe here. It's a spicy version and a popular addition to Kerala Onam sadya or meals. 

Amma's Sweet Mango Pickle Recipe
Makes one small bottle


Raw mangoes - 3 nos (orange sized ones, approx)
Onions - 3 big
Jaggery / raw sugar (or brown sugar) - 1/2 cup, grated or melted
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Chilly powder - 6 tsp
Gingelly / Indian sesame oil - 1/2 cup
Fenugreek seeds / uluva / menthayam - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida / hing / kaayam - 1/4 tsp
Mustard seeds / kaduku - 1/2tsp
A few curry leaves
Salt to taste


1. Slice the mangoes and onions into thin pieces.

2. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. When they pop, add the fenugreek seeds. When they turn a nice brown, add the onions. Take care not to burn the seeds otherwise they turn very bitter. Let the onions brown well.

3. Now add the chilly powder, turmeric powder, hing and curry leaves. Stir around for a minute and then add the sliced mangoes and salt. Add 1/2 cup water to this and cook covered on a low flame (on sim, preferably).

4. After about 10 mins, add the jaggery, mix well and let the mixture come to a boil. Remove, cool and store in air-tight bottles. Keeps in the refrigerator for up to a month.
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