The untold story of mango pickle 0

As per a popular dictionary pickle is a relish consisting of vegetables or fruit preserved in vinegar or brine.

The term pickle is derived from the Dutch word pekel, meaning brine In the United States and Canada, the word pickle  almost always refers to a pickled cucumber (other types of pickles will be described as "pickled onion", "pickled beets", etc.). In the UK pickle generally refers to ploughman's pickle, such as Branston pickle, traditionally served with a ploughman's lunch.

Let’s talk about the mainstream pickle, pickled cucumber (commonly known as a pickle in the United States and Canada or generically as gherkins in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Australia) is cucumber that has been pickled in a brine, vinegar, or another liquid and left to ferment for a period of time by either immersing the cucumbers in an acidic solution or through souring by lacto-fermentation.

Now let’s come to India. Like language, colors, race etc., India has vast variety of pickles and majority of them are spicy. Of course it has to be!

The one illustrated here is called tender mango pickle. In Kannada (A South Indian language) it is called ‘Midi uppinakayi/ ಮಿಡಿಉಪ್ಪಿನಕಾಯಿ. This is somewhat different from other pickles in India.

Its starts with plucking raw tender mangoes from the tree. Usually these mango trees are not so common as the mangoes they bear aren’t sweet when they ripe. They are very sour! Infact, it is the sourness that yields the taste essential to a great pickleIt is often observed that there exists one such tree for 2-3 villages, and these trees don’t yield every year, probably once in 3-5 years. So there is a huge demand for them. Usually people pre-book certain number of mangoes (usually in thousands) with the property owner on whose land the tree is grown. However these days due to commercialisation, people are using all sorts of mangoes to make the pickle. Luckily there are few families who still adhere to the traditional recipe.

Pickle mango trees are almost non-existent from the memory of the current generation.

 

That’s about the tree!

Once plucked, these mangoes are washed cleaned and dried with cotton cloth so that there is no trace of moisture, this is an important step otherwise the mangoes will spoil with time. Also it is made sure that all the injured/bad mangoes are discarded

Rest is almost same as the other pickle recipe followed in many parts of the world. These mangoes are then transferred into a large airtight container.  And before sealing, they are mixed with equal amount of rock salt. In few weeks the mangoes will shrunk to almost 1/5th of their original size. By the way these big containers are often stored in the attic.

 Usually, special pickle masala is added to these salted, shrunk mangoes. Again the recipe of this masala is a safely guarded family secret which is  passed on over generations. In the future chronicles, let’s talk about these masala recipes! Another interesting fact is these salted mangoes are usually stored for 3-5 years since they are rarely available every season.

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In the interior part of southern Karnataka (a south Indian state), also called the Malnad region, the lady of the house will serve drinking water along with 2-3 pieces of pickle or jaggery to every visitor. Just take a bite from the pickle and drink the water. Legend says one tastes heaven in that moment.

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 Most south Indians eat rice with curd and pickle, when they feel lazy to prepare an actual meal.

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Do you know with which finger, Indians usually taste pickle? Now that’s some food for your thought!


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Write your comments below, will meet over the next chronicle.

 

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