Aam ka achar, making mango pickles from scratch
What sells for pickles in Indian grocery stores is not particularly tasty or visually appealing. Often it is an over-salted, pasty textured mass of disappointment.
Here is a young mango pickle recipe that is relatively easy to make if you have access to healthy dose of summer sun.
During early part of summer, you will find green mangoes in Indian grocery stores. Pick 4 mangoes that are super firm. Firmer they are, better they are for the purpose. Also gather some spices, you will need turmeric powder, coriander seeds, nigella seeds (aka kalounji), fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, black peppercorn, and mustard oil.
Wash and pat dry the green mangoes and cut them up in approximately 1 inch cube pieces. You can try a piece for taste. They should be tart. I leave the seeds attached to the flesh. Add 4 Tbps of turmeric and 4 heaping Tbsp of salt. Coat evenly, place on a tray and let sun dry for 2-3 days. During this stage, you want to make sure no dirt gets on the mangoes. I normally cover with cheese cloth and bring the tray in during period of sun down.
Now take 1/2 cup each of the seeds – coriander, nigella, fennel, fenugreek and black peppercorn, and mix. Dry grind in the food processor for 2-3 pulses to break some of the seeds down. The seeds should more or less retain their shape. Mix with seeds with the mangoes, store in a large glass jar and top with mustard oil. Cover the glass jar with cheese cloth and keep out in the sun for another 5 days.
This second stage of sun bathing allows for further evaporation and the mangoes will settle down further in the oil. It is important to top the mangoes with sufficient oil or the pickle can go bad. Now cover and store in a cool place for 2-3 months. I am usually too impatient and start digging in after 2-3 weeks. In the beginning, the mangoes have a fresh taste and then over time, they develop the full pickled taste.