1 inch Dried Turmeric Root or 1 tsp Haldi/Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Hing/Asafoetida
1½ – 1¾ cups Salt, divided
First let’s start the pickle making by preparing the mangoes. Wash the mangoes and pat them dry making sure there is no moisture left. Any little moisture will reduce the lifetime of a pickle and it is important to make sure there is none. Once the mangoes are dried, cut them into bite size pieces. Scrape out all the mango flesh or pulp and discard the stone.
Take two steel vessels, one large and another bit smaller one so that it fits inside the large one. Make sure that they are dry without any moisture content in them. Place the mango pieces in the large vessel and add about 2 heaped tbsp of salt. Mix them well with a help of a clean and dry spoon. Next place the smaller steel vessel on top and place any heavy material like stone pestle and mortar on top (please refer the photograph above to get idea). Keep it aside in a dry place overnight or preferably for 24 hours.
Next, start to prepare the spices for pickle powder. Heat the pan, or in my case it is my trusted old cast iron skillet, on low flame until it is hot to touch. Dry roast coriander seeds, and cumin seeds, separately one at a time on low flame till their colour deepens and their perfume spreads through the kitchen. Similarly dry roast the mustard seeds until they pop and crackle. Make sure that you don’t burn any spices as they will make the pickle taste bitter! Keep them aside in a large plate to cool down to room temperature.
Heat about 1 tsp of oil in a same pan and add dried turmeric root if using. Fry it on low flame until it plumps up, about 1 minute and keep it aside to cool down. Skip this, if using turmeric powder. In same oil, roast the fenugreek seeds and hing until the methi seeds changes colour to golden brown. Take care not to burn the methi seeds as it will taste bitter if roasted for too long. Keep them aside along with other roasted spices to cool down to room temperature. Next add 1 tsp of oil in a same pan and roast the dry red chillies on low flame until they plump up, about 1-1½ minute. Set them aside to cool down.
While spices are cooling, proceed to make boiled salt water which will be used in making pickle sauce by mixing with pickling spice powder. Take 3- 3½ cups of water in a pan and mix in 1 – 1¼ cups of salt to it. Bring this salted water to roaring boil on a medium flame. Once the water comes to boil, simmer and let it boil for 2-3 minutes. Turn off the gas and let it cool down to room temperature. Cover and keep it aside until needed.
Once the spices cool down to room temperature, place the roasted spices in a mixer grinder. First place the roasted chillies in the bottom, followed by other roasted spices for ease of grinding the spices. I use my trusted 8 years old sturdy heavy duty mixer grinder, but you can use the coffee grinder or spice grinder and grind the spices in batches. Don’t rush the grinding process of the spices for long time as the essential oils in the spice powder will release moisture contents and this moisture content will reduce the shelf life. So you grind the powders for short intervals, something like for 12-15 seconds, mix them gently with a help of a dry spoon to aerate and then grind them again for couple of seconds. Let the spice powder come to room temperature before storing them in an air tight container to be used on next day.
Next day you will find that the mangoes have released their water and they have shrunk in size little as they dehydrate. This was done in order to help the mango pieces absorb the spices from pickling sauce when mixed together. Drain the water released from the mango pieces and keep it aside.
Add this mango juice to 3 cups of fresh water along with 2 tbsp of salt and bring it to boil. Once the water comes to boil, mix in mango pieces and reduce the heat to low. Let the mango pieces cook until their skin changes colour from deep green to yellow-ish green in colour as shown in the photograph above. It takes around 4-5 minutes and turn off the heat immediately.
Place the mango pieces on a colander to remove all the water from it as shown in the photograph above. Once all the water is strained, spread the mango pieces on a clean cotton towel or kitchen towel and let it cool down completely.
Next prepare the pickling sauce. Take the pickle powder in a dry mixing bowl and add cooled salted water that you had prepared on previous day. Add one cup of water at a time and mix them well until you get a pickling sauce of desired consistency. I make a fairly thick pickle paste and save half of it in an air tight jar for pickling next batch after few months. With the other half, mix enough salted water to make pickling sauce of pouring consistency, little thicker than buttermilk consistency. If there is still some more salt water is left after making the pickle sauce, you can save it in an air tight container for months and use it when needed.
Once the pickle sauce is ready, add cooled mango pieces and mix them well. Add more pickling paste if needed from the saved half of pickle paste. Store the Spicy Cut Mango Pickle in an air tight container. You can serve it immediately with rice, dosa or idli, but it tastes better after resting for a week when the mango pieces absorb all the flavours and flavours blend well.
The whole pickle making process is carried over 2 days. On day one, you prepare the mangoes, the salt water for the pickle sauce as well as roast the individual spices for the pickle masala. On day two, you proceed to cook the mangoes and then finish the whole pickling process.
Please make sure all the utensils, spoons and ladles, knife and cutting board and storage jars are dry and moisture free as any moisture content will reduce the life of pickle.
I have used mild flavoured Byadagi/Kashmiri Chilli for colour and spicy dry red chilli in 1:1 ratio.
When it comes to roasting the spices, make sure that they are roasted on a lowest flame till their colour deepens and their perfume spread in my kitchen and teases your senses. This roasting spice is very sacred and something that cannot be rushed as spices are just like the small kids and they need your constant attention. If you get distracted or take your eyes away for a moment, they will burn and turn bitter and ruin the taste.
While grind the roasted spices, first place the roasted chillies in the bottom, followed by other roasted spices for ease of grinding. I use my trusted 8 years old sturdy heavy duty mixer grinder, but you can use the coffee grinder or spice grinder and grind the spices in batches. Don’t rush the grinding process of the spices for long time as the essential oils in the spice powder will release moisture contents and this moisture content will reduce the shelf life. So you grind the powders for short intervals, something like for 12-15 seconds, mix them gently with a help of a dry spoon to aerate and then grind them again for couple of seconds.
You can save half of the pickle paste in an air tight container and use it for making instant vegetable pickles. Similarly, store the leftover boiled and cooled salt water and use it to thin down the pickle paste. Both pickle paste and salt water can be saved up for six months.
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