|Pickle shop, Varanasi|
There were so many different kinds! Mango, garlic, ginger, and a gazillion other ones whose names couldn't be translated for me. I bought onion pickles and have been eating them both in the morning with my paratha and curd and in the evening with rice, raita, naan and whatever vegetable dish is next on the list (Anna and I are working our way down the menu at our hotel).
Indian pickles are made with mustard seed oil and many spices. I decided I wanted to learn how to make them. Since pretty much every amama in India knows how, it really was only a matter of time before I found someone who could show me. As luck would have it, when I was buying my MC Hammer pink parachute pants (totally ridiculous) the mother of the family-owned shop said she had a great recipe. Along with my pants she sent me home with a jar of pickled mangoes (!) that were a little salty for my taste but still absolutely amazing. The next day, I asked her to teach me.
|Me with over-ripe mangoes|
Samta (the mother), Adesolay (oldest son- 17?), Devy (8 year old son), the daughter, Manya (9 years old), and the grandmother's name that I think I will need written down for me, are an adorable family that should definitely have their own sitcom. Samta is very stern and pushy, Adesolay has the biggest smile, Devy is what my dad would call a zoozooni and the daughter told me she wants to grow up to be the prime minister. The grandmother is my favorite. Grandmothers tend to be my favorites. She has a great cackle and we laughed back and forth at each other as we tried to communicate how to cut the mangoes and how badly I had been ripped off at the spice shop.
|Manya: yoga master, Bollywood dancer and future Prime Minister|
When I was over on Thursday night with the spices and mangoes that I bought, they clucked sadly at me. I had paid three times as much as I should have for the mangoes! The mangoes are too ripe! This sauf (spice) is too skinny and sickly looking! I felt right at home. While we mixed the spices and drank mango milk shakes with the too-ripe mangoes, they sent Adesolay to buy new, unripe mangoes for the pickles. Then we pealed and shredded the mangoes in a large bowl and mixed some spices and salt in with them. We have to let this sit for one day, they said. Samta had me try a couple of other kinds of pickles they had in the house. I tried the most delicious pickle of my life which I thought was artichoke. I said, Actually, can we scratch the mango pickle idea, and make these instead? They laughed and said ok. I went home and promised to return the following day in the afternoon.
|Jack fruit and mango pieces|
Friday afternoon (June 22) I returned and we made two other kinds of pickles.When I discovered that the most delicious pickle ever was not artichoke but actually made from jack fruit I could hardly believe it. This is the first time I am sad we don't have jack fruit in Michigan. I remember eating lots of jack fruit in Brazil. It's enormous, green and spiny on the outside and on the inside are these beige colored pods with seeds the size of a finger bone. Basically, they are gross, and the only reason that Ronaldi and I ate them was because we were poor and they were free, falling from the trees in the jungle.
|Mixing in the spices|
We finished mixing all the spices and chopping all the fruits and we put the pickles in separate plastic jars that they instructed me to put in the sun (I am suspending reality and will just pretend that BPA doesn't exist). The grandmother vigorously moved her arms up and down as if she had a beach ball between them and said "Gaba!" I took this to mean "Shake!" I was right. I need to shake them every day to make sure the oil and spices completely coat everything.
|Manya and the jar which now holds my pickles and once held laundry detergent. Pretending so hard not to be freaked out by BPA and other chemicals.|
I will have delicious pickles in 2 days and the family also invited me to breakfast and tea this morning!
Ingredients: 1 kg unripe mangoes pealed and shredded, 1 kg jack fruit, boiled, 1 kg unripe mangoes cubed,1 kg mustard oil, 100 gm rai, 100 gm mangralla, 100 gm sauf, 50 gm heldi, 100 gm methi, 50 gm hing, 1 pkt. salt, 50 gm red chilli.
Shredded Mango Pickles:
Add 3 tablespoons salt, 1/2 tablespoon ping, fully crushed, 1/2 tablespoon heldi, 1/2 tablespoon red chilli. Put the mango mixture on top of about 2 cups of chenna (is this chickpea?) in a metal pot, and press it down into the bottom of the pot. Put a lid on it and let it sit over night.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons sauf, 4 tablespoons rai, 4 tablespoons mangralla on low heat. Add methi, crushed. Blend everything in blender. Set spice mixture aside- this will be added the next day.
The next day, add 1/2 of the spice mixture to the shredded mango. In a pot over the stove heat up 1/3 of the mustard seed oil. Add this to the mangoes when it has cooled enough. Mix thoroughly. Put mangoes in GLASS jar and let sit out for 2 hours during the heat of the day, for two days. Let some air enter- either put cheese cloth over the top or leave the top slightly ajar.
Jack Fruit and Mango Pickles:
After jack fruit has been boiled and mango cut appropriately, add 2-3 tablespoons of salt and red chilli to each.
Heat sauf til light brown. Set aside. Heat rai for one minute. Set aside. Heat mangralla a little bit and set aside. Heat fenegreek til light brown, around 2 minutes, and set aside. Add red chilli and heldhi, unheated. Add this mixture to the cut mango and jack fruit. We made two kinds- one jack fruit and mango mix and one of just mangoes. After the spices have been added, add also the crushed hing. Finally, add the remainder of the oil (1/3 kilo among the two different types of pickles). Mix thoroughly. Put into GLASS jars and let sit outside for 2 hours during the heat of the day, for two days. Let some air enter- either put cheese cloth over the top or leave the top slightly ajar.