Come summer and we start thinking mangoes in all it's hues and flavours. Raw mangoes hit the markets first and our kitchens go berserk with all the raw mango chutneys and chundas and khatta meetha aam ka achar or aam ki launji.
Few weeks ago when my house help's daughter wanted a raw mango to be peeled and given to her with salt, I thought she would eat one slice but she devoured 2 large raw mangoes within a matter of 10 minutes puckering her mouth all this while much to my entertainment. I can't remember when I myself did that.
We love to pucker up with some raw mango in our mouth all over the country in fact. A plethora of pickles, chutneys and preserves made in every region are a testimony to that.
Since raw mango is considered cooling if consumed in a specific way, there are recipes of aam panna and many related drinks that are made regularly in Indian homes. A fresh chutney is made with loads of mint leaves and some raw onion and green chillies to make a summer meal finger licking. Another soup like kachhe aam ka saar is made to be served like raita especially with lunch as it is the hottest time of the day.
Kachhe aam ka kuchla was one recipe that was made frequently in my home when my grandmother was around, but I had somehow started using the mixie and my kuchla started getting chutneyfied. But when I started making the Thai green mango salad I thought of reviving this kachhe aam ka kuchla in my kitchen too.
So kachhe aam ka kuchla is of 2 types. Both Kuchlas are freshly made condiments but one is made with chutney ingredients and the other is more like a quick pickle, often called as kuchla achar. The name kuchla comes from the act of thrashing the ingredients lightly in a mortar and pestle that macerates the mango slices to soak up the flavours.
Sometimes the raw mango is grated to make kuchla but the idea is to keep the kuchla coarse. .
The kuchla chutney is more of my type because it borders on being a salad of sorts.
ingredients for kachhe aam ka kuchla chutney
one large raw mango peeled and sliced thinly
one large red onion sliced thinly
2-3 green chillies sliced
few springs of mint leaves
salt to taste
1/4 tsp mustard oil (optional)
Gather everything in a mortar and pestle and thrash till everything is macerated well. It looks like this when you want it to be like a salad.
Thrash a bit more to make it a coarse chutney.
This is the best summer condiment for everyday dal chawal meals but the best pairing in my opinion is with sattu. Both these exotic things together make the most common summer food for the farmers who work in the fields all day. I think if not the meals it becomes a snack to keep them cool. I have tasted it made by my grandmother made in our urban kitchen as she used to recreate a few things that she loved.
recipe of kachhe aam ka kuchla 'achar'
The achar version of kuchla is a quick pickle that is made int he morning and should be over during the day. It tastes great when fresh and that is the USP of this kuchla which is sometimes called as 'achari' too. Some people prefer kuchla achar more than the regular spicy preserved aam ka achar.
The achar version of kuchla had traveled to the countries wherever the farm workers from eastern India migrated. I found slightly varying kuchla recipes from Fiji and Guyana when I was searching on the internet. But the achar version of kuchla has almost disappeared from our kitchens it seems. I asked a few friends who didn't remember kuchla achar being made into their homes.
This kuchla achar can be added to jhal mudi type snacks or can be added to plain Bhindi stir fry or Karela stir fry to pack some punch in the everyday subzi.
Raw mangoes peeled and sliced 1 cup
turmeric powder 1 tsp
mustard powder 1 tsp
red chilli powder 1 tsp
salt 1 tsp
Toss everything up and let it rest for a couple of hours before serving. This quick pickle doesn't keep well and it gets softened the next day which is not the best way to eat it.
Any leftover kuchla achar was happily added to next day's arhar ki daal to make it sour and of course that also became a special summer treat.
Frugal cooking has been India's tradition. Something that we have forgotten with the deluge of ingredients available from all over the globe.