I still remember my first introduction to the Aavakaaya pickle when I was about 16. We were having dinner at my parents’ friend’s place. They belonged to Andhra Pradesh and I was thrilled to see a mango pickle at the table. Suffice to say that I spent the rest of the evening wiping my tears and nose, and with my tongue on fire which sensation eventually subsided to leaving it numb.
I have always been careful with pickles since and never dive in when tempted and have learnt the hard way that a taste first is prudential.
So every summer, once the mangoes are here Aavakaaya is one pickle I always make along with Maangakari (Quick Mango Pickle), Maangai Thokku and Chundo (Sweet And Spicy Mango Pickle) . The traditional Aavakaaya doesn’t have chickpeas in it but I happen to like this version too so I’ve made it that way.
For this pickle, you need sour green mangoes which are hard, still somewhat tender but have central cores which have started becoming hard. You need a very sharp knife to cut through this core, and the inedible seed has to be discarded. Then cut each mango half into approximately 1/2” pieces. Oh, make sure your mangoes are completely dry to start with.
Avakkai Urugai (Andhra Style Mango Pickles)
6 smallish green mangoes (cubed ~ 2 cups)
1/2 cup dried chickpeas
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
3 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 cup sesame oil
1/4 tsp asafoetida
Put the mango pieces and the chickpeas in a steel or glass bowl and add the salt, chilli powder and turmeric powder. Stir gently, to coat the pieces, and keep aside.
Heat an iron kadai/ wok/ skillet and dry roast the mustard and fenugreek seeds (do not brown), over medium heat, till they start giving off an aroma. Take them off the heat, allow to cool, and then grind the seeds to a fine powder in a mixer/ blender.
Heat the sesame oil in the same kadai/ wok/ skillet but do not let it reach smoking point. Add the asafoetida to this and take the oil off the heat. Add the powdered mustard and fenugreek to the oil mix and allow it to cool.
Pour this oil over the mango pieces and mix well with a spoon, using a folding motion of the hand. Transfer the pickle to a sterile glass jar, and store at room temperature stirring the contents once a day, for about a week.
The pickle can be eaten in about 3 weeks and should keep without refrigeration. This recipe makes enough pickle to fill a medium glass jar. For larger quantities, increase proportions of the ingredients as required. Serve with rice and yogurt for the best combination.
Anita’s Quick Chilli Pickle:
This pickle caught my attention when Anita posted it because it is one of my personal favourites. Not ever having made this pickle, I just had to make it. I never knew this was a Rajasthani pickle and they apparently use a variety of green chillies called “Athana” which is long and fleshy.
A very easily made pickle, the main flavours you get are salt, mustard and a bit of tang. The chillies, of course, lend the “fire” but this is not a very spicy pickle as pickles go. My advice would be to choose the longish green chillies which aren’t very hot to make this pickle.
Since I followed Anita’s recipe more or less, you can read it at her blog . As she says, it’s a great accompaniment to any Indian meal, parathas, burgers and hot dogs. And you definitely need to try it out with south Indian curd rice (yogurt and rice).
Rajani’s Stuffed Green Chilli Pickle:
Rajani’s “ bharwan mirch ka achaar ” or stuffed green chilli pickle was another pickle I had planned to make. Since I was buying chillies to make Anita’s pickle, I bought enough to make this one too. This pickle is probably a Rajasthani one too, and here the chillies are slit and stuffed with a “masala” (mix of powdered spices) before being pickled.
Again, it is best to use the mildly hot kind of long, green chillies unless you can find the red winter chillies Rajani says are the best for this pickle. I followed her recipe more or less, just that I used a quarter of her recipe, reduced the turmeric by half, and I used sesame oil rather than mustard oil. I know that makes a lot of difference to the final flavour of the pickle but we don’t like the taste/ smell of mustard oil.
This pickle is really good with parathas and dal chawal (rice and lentils) but my favourite combination is with “thayir chaadam” (south Indian curd rice/ yogurt and rice).
Madhur Jaffrey's Punjabi-Style Pickle (Cauliflower-Carrot-Turnip Pickle):
This sweet and sour pickle uses typical north Indian winter vegetables and since they’re available here in Goa, I thought I’d try out this pickle I saw on Anita’s blog. We don’t like pickles which are made with vinegar and so I hesitantly approached making this one. It was the sight of those little red turnips (shalgam) at the market for the first time this winter that finally made me decide to give this a chance. Red juicy and sweet winter carrots are in plenty and cauliflower is something we seem to get here the year round.
I was going to use Anita’s recipe, but her recipe needs curing the pickle in the hot sun. Now wouldn’t it just happen that as soon as I decided to make the pickle that the skies started clouding over? The days are still hot but one needs a strong sun work its magic over the vegetables and spices to make the pickle!
That’s when I found Madhur Jaffery’s Instant Punjabi-Style Pickle which was more or less like Anita’s version except the sun had no business here, which I used. Imust emphasize it as always better to stick to the written word when you’re in unfamiliar territory, at least the first time round. This was the first time I had made a pickle using vinegar as the main preservative!
Of course, the sun does give a flavour to pickles that no amount of cooking can re-create so this pickle was definitely different in that aspect from Anita’s. I was pleasantly surprised to find the pickle wasn’t all that vinegary to taste and for once, I have ended up liking a pickle with a vinegar base. This is another pickle that is very good with parathas!
Simran’s Mom’s Lime Pickle:
I guess the summer’s got to a lot of us food bloggers in India, at least the ones whose blogs I try to read regularly. Simran had posted this pickle on her blog and just looking at that picture brought back memories of eating this pickle in homes of my parents’ friends.
When we first came to Goa, we had this “Aunty and Uncle” couple (all elders, family or otherwise, who are not specifically designated by a defined relationship, are Uncles and Aunties in India) who were our neighbours. Now this Aunty was a fantastic cook and I remember her lime pickle which looked and tasted like this.
I used a quarter of Simran’s recipe and kept to it more or less. I didn’t make any changes worth mentioning. This pickle takes some time, about 2 weeks or so, to reach “maturity” compared to the others. The salt, spices and the sun have to work their magic till the limes soften to an almost mushy consistency.
One more interestingly spiced sweet and sour pickle where the “heat” comes from the black pepper this time, and not the ususal chillies or red chilli powder. This is a north Indian pickle so you’ve got to try it with parathas, though you might be forgiven for just dipping you finger into the jar for a taste!
I’m now the very happy owner of a fresh batch of a variety of pickles. My pickling stint is far from done as I still have some more Mango pickles and a carrot pickle to make, and who knows, I might just discover some more pickles I would be tempted to make.
And just in case you are looking for something other than the routine chappathis and parathas to serve with the pickles, I suggest trying these very flaky and absolutely delicious besan parathas which Anita made for Manisha and family when they went visiting her recently. Manisha has posted them with detailed pictures and a write-up on how to make them.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank Asha who organised this auction to raise money for the Japanese Red Cross so they may continue the good work they have been doing tirelessly. I’m happy to have been a part of the small group of bloggers along with Liren , Simone , Trissa and Vanille who were part of this effort.
Our special thanks to all those who did bid against the various items on auction, and helped us raise USD 925 for the Japanese Red Cross. You can see the details below. The winners of the items will be receiving e-mails from Asha with further details.
Item Winner Amount
Breakfast Basket (Asha) Arun Manickavasagam $100
PB & J Hamper (Asha) Nancy Eatough $200
Afternoon Tea Basket (Liren) Nancy Eatough $150
Dutch Basket (Simone) Sarah Samuel $100
Eggless Decorated Cookies (Aparna) Sarah Samuel $25
Margaret Fulton Favorite (Trissa) Maria Pearcy $45
Stafanie Alexander Gift Set (Trissa) Brendan Doggett $275
Kiwi Basket (Vanille) Robin Cammarota $30
Total $ 925