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