Closely following the mango season, Amtekayi or Indian Hog plum appears in the markets heaped in wicker baskets. Also known by names Adavi Mamidi (Telugu), Ambazhanga (Malayalam), Ambade (ThuLu), Amra kai (Tamil) or simply the Ambarella tree, Amtekayi season is quite short and disappears before you know it. The most sought after tender berries come early in the season leaving the less desirable mature fibrous ones towards the end.
The untrained eye can mistake Amtekayi to be a baby mango from a distance. Amtekayi is light green colored with glossy skin, elliptical shaped, somewhat crunchy with a sour taste and has a unique unforgettable flavor and attractive smell. They can be eaten raw with a dash of salt and red chilli powder mixed in, but they taste even better when pickled or cooked into different savory relishes and used as a souring agent in many dishes similar to tamarind and green mango.
A huge stash of pickles of different kinds has a permanent place in our kitchen at any time of the year. Pickles I believe, are the primary reason I have stuck to eating curd rice since childhood.
I am fond of a variety of pickles. When I think of Amtekayi pickle though, my heart skips a beat and does a cartwheel instead. Making Amtekayi pickle using my mom’s family heirloom recipe has been on my mind forever. This summer, I finally got to scratch it off of my must-do list.
Distributing pickles among family and friends is as much a tradition in itself as much as pickling. A seasoned pickle maker herself, my Mom has made pickles all her life more for distributing than for the consumption of the household.
After returning to India last year, I have been obsessed with pickle making. I have tried my hands at making Amla, Magali Ber, Mango ginger, star gooseberries, lemon, green pepper, Citron (Heralekayi), Baby mangoes and Amtekayi so far. And, I’ve begun to realize why she chooses to do that.
It is immensely satisfying beyond words can describe. Nothing can match an edible gift such as a bottle of homemade pickle. To make pickles is to taste the art of slow living. One has to be fully present during the whole process, body and mind. The art of pickling is precious and must be passed on to the next generation.
South Indian pickles broadly come in two types – Menthya kai (fenugreek based) and Ava kayi (mustard based). The recipe I am sharing today is mustard based and oil free too. This pickle is always made in plenty as the season is short lived, but so tasty that it hardly ever lasts until the arrival of the next season.
Amtekayi Uppinakayi is truly a Kannada delicacy, hugely popular in the Mysore – Bangalore and Dakshina Kannada (South Canara) belt. The pickle needs a handful of ingredients – rock salt, red chilli powder, mustard seeds and some clean water. The spice mixture that blends with Amtekayi juices and the brine by itself makes for a great accompaniment.
If you liked Midi Mavinakayi pickle recipe I shared earlier, then you are sure to love this tangy Amtekayi pickle equally or perhaps more. In my opinion, this is a must-make pickle during summer. Mango pickles can be bought in stores, but to eat Amtekayi pickle, one has to have a close watch on the season’s beginning and make it oneself or wait till someone makes and kindly offers.
Easy to make and hard to resist this pickle is sure to brighten your palate and your meal. If you happen to make it, you can be sure that someone will always ask for it at mealtime!
Makes 1700 ml bottle full of pickle
- 600 gms tender Amtekayi / Hog plum (look for small ones)
- 1 cup rock salt finely ground
- 2/3 cup black mustard seeds (fine Andhra variety), finely ground
- 1 cup red chilli powder
- 1200 ml (approx) water - a little more than enough to cover the Amtekayi
- 2tsp tsp salt for cleaning the baby mangoes
- 1700 ml size Glass Bottle for pickling
- wax paper for lining the lid
Wash the glass bottle with hot water and soap and air dry completely.
Nip the baby mangoes from the stem if the twigs are still intact, leaving 1 mm of the stem. We need that pungency of the liquid oozing from the stem.
In a large bowl, soak the baby mangoes with 2 tsp salt for 10-15 mins to get rid of the impurities. Wash well and rinse with clean water.
Place the clean mangoes in a clean container and pour enough clean water to cover the mangoes well. Plus one cup more. Approximately 1200 ml. We'll need the extra brine for grinding later.
Reserving the water, strain the mangoes and towel dry completely.
Bring the reserved water to a boil in a large sized non-reactive sauce pan. (No aluminium pans please). Add salt, stir to dissolve and let cool completely.
When cooled, grind mustard powder and red chilli powder along with one cup of brine to a smooth paste. Pour this paste into the brine and give it a good stir.
Taste the spicy pickle sauce and adjust if needed as per your taste. Pour this into the clean dry glass bottle readied for pickling earlier.
Trim the stem end of Amtekayi and cut in half lengthwise. Transfer the halved Amtekayi pieces into the glass bottle. Stir well with a clean dry ladle.
Cut a square piece of wax paper slightly bigger than the lid. Place the wax paper on the bottle and close the lid tight.
Place the bottle in a cool, dry spot away from sunlight.
Pickle will be ready to eat in 4-5 days.
When buying, pick the freshest looking, unblemished gleaming green Amtekayi (Hog plum) that are smaller in size. Bigger ones are mature and fibrous.
It is normal for Amtekayi pieces to float in brine. If you see an inch of brine at the very bottom of the bottle even after the spices are added, it is normal too. Give it a good stir after a couple of days and it will be fine.
Stores well at room temperature. Stays fresh for six months or more.
Always handle with clean hands and dry non-reactive spoon.