Sunday, 17 March 2019

Mango Achaar - Pickle and Ancient Wisdom


Mango Pickle - Mango Achar
As the rest of the world patiently awaits the onset of spring, praying to do away with the never ending winter, We here in the Indian subcontinent are blessed. Yes blessed, for we have ample sunlight, a happy springtime and glimpses of an impending summer.

Which means that our markets have started to sprout some tender raw mangoes, that are delicious, juicy and have a mild sourness to them.

This means that it is time to pickle them.

Growing up I loved sour foods and pickles disappeared with the bat on an eyelid in my home. Unfortunately I ate happy helpings of them and they did no good for my ever breaking out face, my stomach lining or my oesophagus. Acidity was a regular and unwelcome guest.

As realisation dawned, I decided to cut off my childhood favourites completely from my diet, thus pickles, limes and papads were all shown the backdoor. This continued for a good decade, until one day I sprouted some greys and retuned some others (grey cells).

Now Ayurveda or the ancient Indian wisdom of mindful eating and cooking has become a constant in my life. Not a day passes without me reading up on atleast two new pages of this brilliant science.

Today I wish to share some beneficial nuggets from my reads and also enlighten you on the magic that was your grandmas kitchen.



Homemade pickles are safer and healthier as compared to others because of a number of reasons: we get the choicest of ingredients for the pickle, we don’t put adulterants, artificial colours or preservatives and other harmful additives. When you eat store-bought pickles, you aren’t sure of the quality of the ingredients and their safety. Unfortunately, pickles have earned a bad reputation over these years because of a number of reasons. 

Lets tackle them one by one,

Fear – Pickle is full of salt and oil
Fact – Without the oil and salt, the gut-friendly bacteria won’t grow and you won’t have all the benefits of the pickle. This is because store bought pickles donot undergo the process of lacto fermentation. 

Lacto-fermentation, also called lactic acid fermentation, is a method by which vegetables, dairy, and even bread doughs are preserved through the process of fermentation using beneficial bacteria. 

Lacto-fermentation is easy. All it takes is some fresh vegetables or fruit, jars or a big crock, salt and some spices, That’s it.

The process works because the salt you use kills the bad bacteria, while the good bacteria survives and flourishes and starts to turn lactose and other sugars into lactic acid. This creates the acidic environment required to preserve the food. The lactic acid also provides the tangy flavor that we love.

Fermented foods are rich in probiotic bacteria so by consuming fermented foods you are adding beneficial bacteria and enzymes to your overall intestinal flora, increasing the health of your gut microbiome and digestive system and enhancing the immune system.

Fear – The salt in the pickle will cause blood pressure problems
Fact – It’s not salt that causes BP, it’s habits like lack of exercise, poor sleep hygiene and packaged, processed food that causes it. Use unprocessed jada or kala or sendha namak as per your food heritage.

Fear – Oil is not good for heart health
Fact – Consumption of fat or oil doesn’t cause heart problems. Your bad habits are to be blamed (refer to the fact related to BP above). Use kacche ghani ka groundnut/ mustard/ sesame (til)/ gingley oil according to your food heritage.

Fear – Pickle is unhealthy
Fact – Pickle is a storehouse of minerals, vitamins and friendly bacteria. 1-2 tsp of pickle every day can help reduce bloating, anaemia, Vitamin D and B12 deficiencies and is even helpful for irritable bowel syndrome.

There is one caveat though and no way out of it, it is that to avail the above mentioned benefits of achaar is that it should be made at home. 

The recipe that I'm sharing today was mastered my late father in law, come some he would tirelessly wash, dry, cut, salt and then pickle his favourite Rajapuri mangoes.

I hope that you will like this recipe and yourself some delicious Mango Achaar.

You will need:

3 raw green mangoes
4 teaspoons pink himalayan salt
3 teaspoons mustard seeds
3/4 tsp fenugreek (methi) seeds
3/4 tsp mustard seeds
2 tablespoons coconut vinegar or apple cider vinegar

For the tempering
1/4 cup gingelly oil/sesame oil
1/3 tsp fenugreek (methi) seeds
4 tbsp kashmiri chilli powder
3/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp asofoetida (hing)
Few curry leaves


Method:

Start by washing the mangoes thoroughly and then cleaning them with a dry towel, allow them dry out completely preferably for a few hours in sunlight.

Chop the mangoes into bite sized pieces and then toss them in salt so that each piece is uniformly covered.

Leave these untouched for two days for the process of lacto-fermentation to begin.

On the third day the mangoes would have released a lot of liquid, to this mix in the vinegar and keep aside.



To make the tempering 

Start by dry roasting and finely powdering the mustard and fenugreek seeds in a mortar and pestle.



Then heat up the oil and once hot enough, add in the curry leaves, mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds.


Once the mustard seeds start to pop, turn the flame to low and add in the prepared ground spices, along with the turmeric powder, red chili powder and asofoetida.

When the spices start to emit a lovely nutty aroma, it means that they are cooked, at this stage switch off the flame and allow this mixture to cool down completely. (This cooling is very important, donot mix the mangoes into hot oil)


Once cool, add in the oil and spices into the mangoes and coat all the pieces thoroughly.

Store in an airtight glass container and enjoy a little everyday with your meals.

Notes:

Store the achaar in an airtight glass container
Allow the ingredients cooked in oil to cool down completely before mixing into the salted mangoes.
Use clean and dry spoons only.
If you follow this recipe, there is no need to keep the achaar in the fridge
Do not heat the vinegar.

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