Any Indian home cannot do without pickles called as achar and aam ka achar is the king of all achars. Call it mango pickle or kairi achar, this is the one pickle which makes you salivate at the thought.
All our memories of train journeys and school lunch boxes are redolent with aam ka achar, duly stained with the turmeric and spice infused oil.
Also the masala comes handy sometimes as a salad dressing, or for making some achari veggies or stuffed okra or stuffed karela too. So the extra dose of masala is very useful here and I shall post some of the achari masala recipes in future.
My version of aam ka achar is different in one more respect, that it does not require exposure to sunlight, as is done traditionally. The color and texture of the achar remains as such for 2 years though it does not last that long in my household. There are many takers for this achar and it reaches the dining table of many of my friends.
Clearly my masala to mango ratio is more than normal and you can make double the quantity of achar in the same quantity of masala if you like your achar pieces more than the masala.
( for 4 kg of mangoes)
yellow mustard seeds ground coarsely 200 gm
mangrail, kalonji or onion seeds pounded coarely 100 gm
turmeric powder 200 gm
salt 750 gm
mustard oil 1.5 L
the preparation of the achar can be divided in 5 steps.
1. rinsing and chopping the raw mangoes (this is the most laborious work as the mango seeds should be hard and that makes it really tough to cut them. Use a really good knife or old fashioned cleavers)
2. masala preparation and sterilization of jars
3. marination of mango pieces
4. mixing the first masala, ie, chilly and mustard
5. tadka and filling the jars
step 1. Masalas should be prepared before hand or they can be prepared after the marination step. Also the glass jars used to store the achar should be washed well with detergent, dried in the microwave and rinsed with white vinegar before the tadka stage.
step 2 and 3. First of all cut the raw firm mangoes in serving size pieces and mix with turmeric powder and salt. This will lead to marination and the mango pieces will release water.
Let it rest for 24 hrs or till it becomes watery as the mangoes release all their water.
At this point it looks like the mango pieces are drowned in the thick yellow slurry.
In fact 24 -36 hrs is enough time for this but sometimes I leave it as such for 3-4 days when I don't get time to proceed. There is no harm in it, just keep stirring the mixture once a day.
step 5. Finally heat the oil in a large pan/kadhai heat thoroughly and throw in the asafoetida and let it get dispersed (it tends to fluff up first and then disperses into the oil).
Then add the methi powder, fennel powder and ajwain and kalonji powders in this order and as the masalas disperse quickly in the oil, take the kadhai off the gas.
Now immediately pour in the achar mixture in to the kadhai and mix well till it looks like this.
After mixing the achar, it becomes cold enough to handle.
Now fill the achar in sterilized jars, take care not to leave any air spaces in the jar. For this you need to slightly tap the jar against kitchen platform so that the achar settles down nicely leaving no air spaces.
You will see the oil coming on top of the jar in a thin layer. Top up with a little more mustard oil if the surface doesn't gets coated with oil naturally.
Keep the jar open till it reaches room temperature and then close the lid and keep it safe in your cupboard. No need to keep in the sun. Not at all.
The achar will be ready to eat within a week and you can enjoy the same texture throughout the year. Trust me.
This aam ka achar stays as is for 2 years and doesn't get mushy at all. The colour also remains the same.