As soon as the Mango season began in early April, baby green mangoes were making their appearance in mounds in markets everywhere here in Bangalore.
The very sight of baby unripe mangoes just like “baby anything”, is simply irresistible. It must be the size. Miniatures are always so irresistible. Especially tender, baby unripe mangoes which we locals call as Midi Maavinakayi or simply Maavina Midi. Because, they mean one thing. Awesome oil free pickles!
People buy as much as they can to preserve, to consume a little now and more throughout the year until the next season arrives.
I had been dreaming of pickling for ages. I had never pickled baby mangoes and here was my first chance. As my mom makes the yummiest pickles in the family, one of my agendas among several others after returning to Bangalore was to learn to pickle just as Amma does.
I bought the freshest baby mangoes one day and called Amma home. I wanted to make the pickle all by myself. So Amma instructed and I followed. I knew, the only way to remember the art of pickling is to do it yourself (myself!).
And the sight of the baby mangoes floating in brine was so worth all the effort.
I cannot tell you how satisfying it was. The whole process. You’ve got to do it yourself to feel the feeling. To experience slow living.
These days, pickles are looked down upon for the fear of the oil content, the heat and the amount of salt. People try to avoid pickles. But more of us need to realize that pickles have an important role to play in our holistic approach to eating and health. When consumed in moderation, pickles help in supporting the good bacteria in the gut. And we all know that immunity is in our gut, right?
The more I think of it, the more I appreciate how beautifully the combination of curd rice (probiotic) accompanied with pickle (fermented food) has been made a big part of the staple South Indian diet. My mom tells me that my grand mom always told her that eating pickles makes for a strong body. I nod in agreement.
So, go to your mom, aunt, grand mom, mom-in-law and learn the art of pickling that is unique to your family. Eat pickles in moderation and stay healthy and strong.
Here’s my mom’s version of the South Indian oil-free Baby Mango pickle.
Makes a 1700 ml bottle full of pickle
- 750 gm Midi Maavinakayi/ baby green mangoes
- 1 cup Rock salt, powdered
- 1 cup Red chilli powder
- 3/4 cup mustard seeds
- 5 cups (1200 ml) water (enough quantity to cover the baby mangoes)
- 1700 ml capacity glass bottle , washed and air dried.
- wax paper to line the lid.
- Wash baby mangoes well. Put them in a large container and pour drinking water enough to cover the mangoes.
- Strain this water into another large sauce pan, add another cup of water and bring to a boil.
- Switch off the stove and add salt. Stir to dissolve.
- Towel dry baby mangoes completely. Remove stems if any.
- When the brine is completely cooled, add baby mangoes to the clean bottle.
- Pour all of the brine into the glass bottle with the baby mangoes.
- Line the lid with wax paper and close tight.
Let the mangoes soak in the brine for 4-5 days in a cool dry place. You will see that the baby mangoes will stay afloat. By day 6, the baby mangoes would have shrunk looking wrinkled.
- On day 6, grind mustard seeds to a powder. Take about 2 cups of brine from bottle and add to the same mixer, add red chilli powder and grind to a paste.
- Empty this paste into the brine and mix well.
- Close the lid lined with wax paper and shut it tight.
- Store in a cool, dry spot in your kitchen.
- Yummy Oil free Baby Mango Pickle will be ready to eat after 4-5 days.
When buying, pick the freshest looking, unblemished gleaming baby mangoes preferably with the stem intact.
Mustard seeds powder can be made ahead. It always has the best taste and aroma when freshly ground.
Always handle the pickle with a dry spoon to avoid spoilage. Stores well without refrigeration easily for a year.
If you want to start with a different quantity of baby mangoes, use equal proportion of salt and red chilli powder and 3/4th amount of mustard seeds.
Once the pickle is ready, you can always taste and adjust according to your taste if needed.