Food

Pickling of Baby Raw Mangoes

Tiny raw mangoes are called as vadu or kadugu manga in Tamil. (Kadugu=mustard seeds which are small in size hence this mango is known as kadagu manga).

These are tiny baby raw mangoes. They fall off the trees on their own without getting a chance to grow into bigger mangoes. The free fall could be due to strong winds, pecking birds, human intervention, weak flowers which manage to morph into mangoes but have no sustaining power to grow big.  Usually these mangoes start coming to the vegetable markets during the months of March and April when strong winds set, enough to shake off the weak little ones so that the strong ones can grow bigger later.  That’s nature’s way of teaching us that it’s survival of the fittest even for vegetables and fruits!

Whatever the cause for their fall, these mangoes are of no use as they taste bitter-sour. But Indian grandmas never let go of the opportunity to make something out of it! So these were patiently picked, sand and dust washed off them, wiped dry, aired on a cloth to dry further, then rubbed/coated with castor oil, pickled with rock salt until they turned tender in about a week.

Picture below shows the processed mangoes being salted.

Below: Next they are filled in glass jars, capped tight, left to soak and pickle in the brine.

It takes 4 to 5 days for the mangoes to get softer/pickled, after which the salt water is decanted to prepare a spicy paste and reintroduced to make the final product, a reddish pickle with bite and spice.  It is a side accompaniment and never to be had as it is as it could burn right from the lips, down the food pipe…  Best when had with curd rice.

The Paste: The free following brine (salt water) is decanted and reused to soak up with some whole dry red chillies, mustard seeds (according to taste and quantity of mangoes) for a few hours.  Then a fine paste is made in a dry and clean blender/mixie.  This paste is then poured back into the glass jar of salted mangoes.  The mangoes are again left to soak in the newly introduced spice mix.
After the pickle is ready this is the red color of the final product.  The taste is very unique, spicy and tangy. Goes very well with curd rice, dosa or idli. Very spicy, very hot and not to be eaten as it is.
Vadu
Raw mangoes, raw tamarind, ripe red big chillies, gooseberries are pickled during the summer months.

They are nature’s way of heralding the onset of summer in the tropics.

Mahalakshmi.

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