Updated: Oct 13, 2021
Achaar as it is known in India, or pickle, is a world to its own. No Indian meal is complete without a variety of pickles present on the table. Indian cuisine has thousands of pickle varieties, spicy, sweet, and sour made from every imaginable vegetable, fruit and meat. Every culture has its own recipe for pickling spices adding countless varieties to this world of pickles. Raw mango pickle is the most popular, but there are amazing fresh bamboo shoot pickles from Himachal, mussel pickle from Kerala and the sweet dried Bombay duck pickle from the Parsi community in Mumbai. Here is more of a global history on pickling and a detailed article on the traditions of Indian pickling. Finally, pickles have been shown, across the globe, to increase appetites. Physiologically, the salt and sour nature of most pickles increase salivation and increase the anticipation of food and hunger.
I love pickles and my pantry has at least 8-10 varieties at any given time. However, a mango pickle is always present. I started making pickles at home to address some of my frustrations with commercial varieties. Most common varieties use vinegar, it is quick, easy and cheap but leaves the pickle with the sour aftertaste of cheap vinegar. Most vendors also use a cheap oil, that occasionally leaves an nasty aftertaste. In addition, I wanted to reduce the salt in the pickles, the commercial varieties use so much that the flavors of the spices are drowned out. And finally, most pickles are spicy, but I love them super spicy!
This is an amazing recipe, complex and well balanced. The mangoes stay crisp and the spices infuse the oil with deep flavors, perfect for that hot bowl of kichidi.
This is the bible of Indian cooking with flavors and dishes from across India, The recipes are always fabulous, and maintain their authenticity. This is the Indian cookbook you want on you kitchen shelf.
For more recipes from this cookbook click here.
For Stage A:
1 lb green mangoes
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
4 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons lime juice
For Stage B:
3/4 teaspoon nigella (kalonji) seeds
1 heaped teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 heaped teaspoon mustard seeds
2 heaped teaspoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
4-8 tablespoons chili powder, reshampati or Kashmiri or any extra spicy variety
1 1/2 cups sesame oil
1 1/2 cups olive oil
3/4 cup garlic
3/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon nigella (kalonji) seeds
10 dried red chiles
For Stage A:
Wash the mangoes well in hot water and dry throughly. Cut into 1-inch cubes, removing the seeds and the seed shells, if possible. Mix well with the turmeric and salt in a glass bowl. Allow the mix to sit, I prefer the fridge, for 2 days, gently tossing the mix 2-3 times a day. The mangoes will give out juices and you want to keep those. I also strongly prefer a glass bowl as plastic does seem to get pitted over time due to the juices and spices.
On the third day add the lime juice and mix well. Allow to sit in the fridge for an additional 24 hours. Toss a couple more times during this time to mix the ingredients.
For Stage B:
Toast all the whole spices individually gently on a pan till lightly colored and aromatic. Add to the marinating mangoes with the chili powder. Mix well.
Heat both the oils in a small saucepan. Add the garlic and fry for 3-4 minutes till the garlic is cooked and starting to turn a light golden. Add the rest of the ingredients and fry for an additional minute. Immerse the frying pan in a bowl of water to cool so the spices do not burn. Be very careful NOT to get any water into the pan. Allow to cool completely.
Add the cooled oil to the pickle mix in 2-3 batches, each time mixing the pickle well. If you feel that you do not have enough oil to cover the pickle completely, heat some more olive oil and cool completely before adding. The pickle must be submerged in the oil completely. Remember, oil is the preservative as it stops all aerobic process and bacteria cannot survive.
Allow the pickle to sit in the fridge for an additional 7 days, mixing the pickle 2-3 times a day. I sometimes find that the pickle may need more oil, follow the heating process above to add as needed.
Serve after 7 days but the pickle begins to shine after 2 weeks. Always keep in the fridge.