I was in quite a bit of a pickle, literally and figuratively. I think the post title should give you an idea why! I have been told by some that it is because I am Libran and maybe that is one way to explain it. I have long had this tendency to swing between energy highs and lows. When I am feeling like doing things, you’ll find me rushing around trying to get a hundred things done, getting to everyone around me in the process, and then tiring myself out. On the other hand I have these periods when there’s so much to be done, but I just can’t seem to find the energy to get started with it.
We Indians love our pickles no matter which part of the country we belong to and, summer or winter, if there’s something we can make into a pickle we will. Given sheer variety of spices Indians cook with, it is not surprising that our pickles reflect this and I can’t say enough about the mouth-watering (pun intended!) kinds of pickles one can find here. Nowadays, the trend is store bought pickles but everyone knows it’s not the same as the home-made stuff.
So early last week, while in one of my energetic phases, I got this urge to get pickling. I’m Indian, love pickles, the summer’s here with mangoes and other vegetables and fruit that could be pickled, and I had any number of empty glass jars waiting to be filled. How many more reasons does one need to start pickling???
It started with some green mangoes. My friendly vegetable lady brought me some freshly plucked and very fragrant green mangoes at a bargain. I had previously bookmarked this, this, this and this to make. Yes, that’s a lot of pickle to be made!
So I bought a whole lot of chillies, perhaps not the exact kind requires for these pickles but I had decided to pickle chillies and came back with what I could get at the market.
Summer’s here, of course, and the winter vegetables are almost gone but I was lucky to find some winter carrots and turnips (shalgam)
Avakkai/ Avakkaya Urugai (Andhra Style Mango Pickles)
Every part of India that grows mangoes has its own way of pickling them, and it is difficult to choose one or two or even three which stand out above the rest. Each type of pickle invariably has something that’s unique about it and this includes the popular Aavakaaya mango pickle from Andhra Pradesh. Pickles from this state are very well known for their “fire” as people native to this state like their food very hot (from chillies). This is not surprising as almost 45% of the chilli production in India is from this state!
I still remember my first introduction to the Aavakaaya pickle when I was about 16. We were having dinner at my parents’ friend’s place. They belonged to Andhra Pradesh and I was thrilled to see a mango pickle at the table. Suffice to say that I spent the rest of the evening wiping my tears and nose, and with my tongue on fire which sensation eventually subsided to leaving it numb.
I have always been careful with pickles since and never dive in when tempted and have learnt the hard way that a taste first is prudential.
So every summer, once the mangoes are here Aavakaaya is one pickle I always make along with Maangakari (Quick Mango Pickle), Maangai Thokku and Chundo (Sweet And Spicy Mango Pickle). The traditional Aavakaaya doesn’t have chickpeas in it but I happen to like this version too so I’ve made it that way.
For this pickle, you need sour green mangoes which are hard, still somewhat tender but have central cores which have started becoming hard. You need a very sharp knife to cut through this core, and the inedible seed has to be discarded. Then cut each mango half into approximately 1/2” pieces. Oh, make sure your mangoes are completely dry to start with.