Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer. A summer under a neem tree; a summer with comics like chacha chaudry; a summer with mangoes.
Raw mangoes, kacha aam, kairi or ambi whatever you might call it but if you are an Indian you can relate to that summer mango pickle scent-a memorable lane to your childhood. Huge sacks of raw mangoes were bought and all the ladies of the house would sit in the veranda and began to work on the pickle. Mangoes were washed, dried on an old bedsheet and finally chopped into wedges. Carefully achaar massala was mixed and later the pickle was filled into cheeni barni. Lots of sunshine, care and devotion would make that pickle, which we would relish all the year long.
Today it is also about raw mango- a sort of a pickle recipe, with the pickle spices but in a chutney form. Khati Meethi Aam ki chutney, is my all time favourite summer mango recipe. This recipe is similar to Aam or kairi ki launji (lonji, loonji) which is very popular in Bengal; mango chunks are coated into sweet and sour flavours with pickle spices.
Aam Ki Chutney is more like a jam or spread, a mashed version. Sweetness from jaggery (gud) and sourness of raw mangoes is balanced with aromatic fennel (saunf) and other basic indian spices. It is an easy peasy homemade pickle or aachaar or jam which is healthy and free of preservatives.
Serve it as a dip along with nachos, chips or plain papad. Spread it on parathas, bread or puri. It also goes well as a side with rice and daal.
5 small raw mangoes/kairi
2 tablespoons oil
1 pinch asafoetida/heeng
1 tablespoon fennel seeds/saunf
1 teaspoon cumin seeds/jeera
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds/rai
1/4 cup grated jaggery/gud/gur
Salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder/lal mirch
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 cup water
Wash mangoes. Peel the skin. Discard the seed. Cut into medium pieces and keep aside.
Heat oil in pan. When oil gets hot add heeng. Add rai and jeera. Let it crackle.
Add in haldi and water. Mix.
Add mangoes and all the remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on medium flame for 2 minutes.
After two minutes, start mashing the mango pieces with the back of a spoon.
Taste. You might need to add more jaggery (depending on sour the mangoes are).
Let it cool down. Fill it in air tight container.
You can use sugar instead of jaggery.
This stays well in the fridge for 1 week.
If you like it like launji where mango pieces are visible (kada or akha or sabut as well call it) then cut mango pieces into wedges and do not add water. Cook it on very slow flame, covered in a non stick pan.