Monday, July 23, 2012

Mango Pickle

Vinayak in King Street Newtown is my local South Asian spice shop. There's always a selection of home made pickles, upma, dhokla, home grown chillies, karela (karawilla in Sri Lanka), okra (commonly called ladies fingers in Sri Lanka) brinjal (eggplant), the occasional gourd. The owner is always pressing product onto me as he knows I write about food and suppliers and I am not one to refuse.

The other day he had just got in some fresh mango pickle which is wife said people from all over Sydney had been coming in to get (a tad exaggerated I thought given it was only supposed to have come in that morning and it was barely mid-day, even given the speed of the South Indian mobile phone tree). It looked fantastic as you can see below, the dark green of the skin, the sunny yellow of the flesh, the orange of the exuberance of oil and the dark brown of the spicing.

Happily the taste lived up to it also. Fiery, oily (what, you don't like oil - then pass on South Asian pickles, we like them greasy to get the rice slippery for its ride down the gullet), the roasted spices robust and the salt excessive. It had the strength to stand up to being dolloped onto a nice bit of sourdough and savoured for lunch (okay, I lied about the savouring part which suggests I took it slow - no way, Jose! The second something this good hits my palate I time travel back to my oral phase (you know your Freud, right, we're talking babydom here) and the imperative to get it all in now in case there never ever is anymore kicks in bigtime).

Mango pickle in its many forms has been a constant craving for me since said babydom days. The accharu woman outside the school grounds was the favourite going home snack stop, her chatty of fresh sliced mango marinating away vinegar, salt, chili, lime, diced red onions and sugar, spoonfuls of it ladled then into a newspaper packet, to be pecked at by fingers on the bus trip home. The Vinayak version was more the keeping kind of pickle hence the oil and the more complex spicing. It's easy to make and keeps for a good while, that is unless you have this fixation on it like I do. The recipe below is adapted from a recipe of mine for green mango temperado pickle.


1.5 kg just ripe mangoes100 gms black mustard seed20 dry red chillies100 gms coriander seed25 gms fennel seed50 gms cumin2 tbsp turmeric2 tbsp cinnamonvinegar

good quality vegetable oil
sesame oil

Method:Cut the mangoes into fingers as per the picture below.

Roast the dry spices and the dry chili together till they are aromatic and a deep brown colour. Grind them fine.

Mix the mangoes and the ground spice mix together.

Slosh in a little vinegar, just enough to wet the pickling mix.

Add a little salt, taste, and if you want to add a little more until it is salty enough to heighten the mango flavour but not drown it entirely.

Now add a teaspoon or two of sesame oil and mix it all again.

Finally add the vegetable oil a little at a time mixing as you do till the mangoes are thoroughly oily and slippery.