We’ve been to strawberry, pumpkin and apple patches quite a few times while we were in the US, an outing that everyone in the family enjoyed. What’s not to love about those convenient pick-your-own farms? A hard-working farmer does all the work and the most arduous thing we have to do is to explain to the kids, a few million times, the difference between raw and ripe produce. Hauling the loot home, and then dealing with the bounty until every last bit is enjoyed and gone, is such a satisfying extension of these jaunts.
Back home in India there are opportunities for picking vegetables and fruit from backyards, terrace gardens and sometimes clandestinely, during stops on road trips. But when the mango season rolls around every summer, we get out there and pluck piles of the fruit, ripe or raw, to sink our teeth into or cook all those piquant dishes that can only be made with mangoes.
This Tamil-style pickle is usually something that we make with the season’s first harvest primarily because it is so quick and delicious! No complicated spice mixes, no tedious sunning and hardly any waiting. This is fuss-free, and instant gratification at its easiest. Raw mangoes are grated and then cooked down with salt and basic spices. The fragrant tang of the raw fruit gets tempered by a fair amount of salt, and the dark earthiness of fenugreek powder. Try it with the first mangoes of the season, and you’ll find yourself eating it with everything, from curd rice to khakhras.
Grated Mango Pickle – Mango Thokku
(Makes 1 heaped cup)
- 3 small-medium raw mangoes
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 1/3 cup sesame or peanut oil
- 3 teaspoons mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon powdered asafoetida
- 2 tablespoons red chili powder (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 3-4 tablespoons salt
- Grate the raw mangoes. We don’t bother peeling them but you can do so if you are not working with organic produce.
- Roast the fenugreek seeds briefly in a pan and then cool and powder them. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in the same pan.
- Add the mustard seeds and wait until they stop sputtering.
- Add the asafoetida, chili powder and turmeric. Stir.
- Immediately add the grated raw mango.
- Stir in the salt and fenugreek seeds powder.
- Cook, stirring occasionally until the oil starts to separate.
- Switch off the heat, let the pickle cool.
- Store in a glass bottle in the refrigerator. The pickle stays well for 2-3 weeks.
Look up our chutney-style Tomato Thokku for similar flavours, with a tomato-ey tang.