Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Heirlooms



Every year, in the middle of summer, it's pickle season at my home. Usually my mom's the cook in the house but pickle day is one of the five or six times a year my dad chips in. Either he or my brother will bring the mangoes home, as well as the spices and then the day long process of drying and mixing will begin, followed by many days of curing the pickle. This mango pickle is fairly standard in Punjab, which means that you can even get the mangoes pre-cut at the farmer's market and local spice stores sell premixes; you just tell them how many kilos of mangoes you got and they will hand over everything you need.

With this being such a common pickle, you would think it will be easy to get a recipe down. But you can't believe the struggle I had when I first asked my mom for the recipe so I could give it to Srivalli for her Indian Cooking Challenge. Four years later, when mom made this year's batch, I figured I should have the recipe up on my blog too. And guess what, the spice ratios she mentioned came out just a little bit different. Plus, my parents couldn't even agree on how much salt goes into the pickle.

But eventually, I came back to Mumbai with a jar of pickle that looks and tastes awesome so the latest version of the recipe is what I am going to share with you here. If pickle making awes you, just remember that this is actually not that difficult. Once you manage to collect all the ingredients, it's just some drying in the sun and mixing in spices.

Ingredients
Raw Mangoes - 1 kg
Mustard oil - 250 ml
Salt - 100 grams
Methre/ Fenugreek seeds - 25 grams
Kalonji / Nigella seeds - 20 grams
Saunf / Fennel Seeds - 25 grams
Turmeric powder - 25 grams
Whole Peppercorns - 10 grams
Red Chilli Powder – 1 tsp

You will also need a porcelain/ceramic pickle jar or a glass jar big enough to hold the mangoes and the spices.

Recipe

Wash the raw mangoes and wipe dry. Halve the mango, remove the pit/stone and cut into 1 inch pieces. Dry in the sun for 2-3 hours (you can spread them out under a fan if you don't get direct sunlight). At this point, you should also wash the porcelain/ceramic pickle jar that you need to use. Put it out in the sun to dry out any moisture.

In a large pot, mix 100 ml mustard oil with salt and all the spices. Add the mangoes and toss until they are well coated. Put it the jar (a glass jar will do if you don't have ceramic, but no plastics or metal please).

Keep the jar in the sun for a day. Then add the remaining mustard oil; you might need more to ensure that the oil cover the mangoes. While there's nothing stopping you from eating this right away, the flavors will be much better blended if you wait 15-20 days. For these first 15 days, shake the jar once a day. After that, you can pretty much let it be and nothing will happen to your pickle for a year or two.

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