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.