It has been a good year for mangoes. We’ve had a lot of different varities and they’ve generally been a whole lot more affordable. That said, I’ve left my mango pickle making sessions to the end of summer as I have been busy with other things. This summer, I particularly wanted to make Aam K Lauji, which is a sweet and sour Rajasthani (North Indian) pickle.
The rains are almost here but raw mangoes are still everywhere for now. I’m planning to make the most of that and stock up on mango pickles. A couple of days back I got a huge bag of freshly plucked raw mangoes from my sister-in-law’s place. She has a mango tree in her backyard that produces some really good mangoes that are perfect for pickles.
To get back to the Aam Ki Launji, it is a sweet and sour pickle typically from the state of Rajasthan though it can be found across North India. It is made of raw mangoes cooked down with spices and sweetened with jaggery. I love sweet and sour North Indian pickles and the Gujarathi Chundo/ Chunda is a favourite but comes second to this Launji for me.
Aam Ki Launji is made in many different ways but the important ingredients are constants in most recipes. These are raw mangoes that are slightly sour, saunf/ fennel seeds,kalonji/ Nigella seeds and jaggery (or sometimes sugar but that’s not as nice in my opinion).
Though most recipes use peeled mangoes, some use mangoes with the skin. This is good provided the raw mangoes have a thin skin which isn’t bitter. The mangoes are generally cut into thin long wedges which look pretty but you can just cut them into about 1” chunks as well. Just make sure they’re the same size more or less so they cook evenly. Aam Ki Launji can be a dry pickle or a pickle that’s a little wet, and many recipes use other spices like mustard seeds, fenugreek, coriander powder, etc.
I used just the fennel seeds and Nigella seeds which are characteristic of this pickle with asafoetida powder. The idea is to use slightly sour mangoes for the tang. If they’re too sour, the pickle loses its typical flavour. I used Kashmiri chilli powder because though deep red in colour it isn’t as fiery as regular chilli powder. Do adjust the amounts of chilli powder and powdered jaggery to suit the sourness of the raw mangoes and your personal taste. The dominant flavours in this pickle should be the tang from the mangoes and the sweetness (not too much though) from the jaggery with the salt and chilli powder staying in the background.
Aam Ki Launji – North Indian Style Sweet and Sour Mango Pickle
- 5 medium sized, slightly sour raw mangoes
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1/2 tsp asafoetida powder
- 1 1/2 tsp Nigella seeds kalonji
- 3 tsp fennel seeds saunf
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 2 tsp salt more if necessary
- 2 tsp to 3red chilli powder
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups powdered jaggery more if necessary
- Peel the mangoes and cut them into thin long wedges or roughly 1” pieces. If your mangoes have a thin skin, then you can leave the skin on if you like to.
- Heat the oil in a wok or large pan, and turn the heat down to medium. Add the asafoetida powder, Nigella seeds and fennel seeds. Stir a couple of times and add the raw mango pieces. Also add the turmeric and chilli powders and the salt.
- Mix well and then add the water. If you want a dry pickle use half the water. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the mango pieces are well cooked but still hold their shape. There should be very little water in the pot.
- Now add the powdered jaggery and stir till melts. Let it cook for a couple of minutes. Then take the pot off the heat. Let the pickle cool to room temperature in the pot.
- Transfer the pickle to sterilized glass jars with airtight lids. Refrigerate. This pickle should keep refrigerated for at least a couple of months.