Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Day 5: Tale of two grandmas - Instant cut mango pickle with garlic, ginger and green chilies

My paternal and maternal grandmothers were both excellent cooks. It would have been more interesting a story if one of them was not a good cook. Not so. Why is that, so many of of our generation don't cook? What will future generations remember us by? It might sound selfish but the best moments I remember of time spent with my grandmothers is by the food I relished. Well I digress.

My grandmothers grew up about 30Kms apart in 2 different villages both in agro families but their cooking styles and lifestyle in general could not have been more different. My maternal grandparent's family is pure vegetarian, nope not even egg, whereas my paternal grandparents family grew up eating whatever dared to move. Well not everything but you get the idea. Both Kongu women born, brought up and married and lived within a 50Kms radius of each other but if you have them cook something both dishes though theoretically the same would taste very different. Hence my reluctance in making claims of authenticity or traditionalism. Authentic or traditional to one's own family perhaps but that is probably how far the claim can go.

pickling spices

I remember more of my maternal grandmother's (a.k.a ammayee) cooking because, one: she still lords over her kitchen at a ripe age and hence having spent a lot more time in her kitchen and watched her cook and having learned most from my mother who carries her own mom's style of cooking of course.

cut green mango

My paternal grandmother (a.k.a aatha) on the other hand left to live with my uncle after my grandfather passed away while I was still in college. When I really started paying attention to how food I ate was cooked aatha had stopped cooking regularly. But she pitched in other ways, by making notes, cooking tips jotted down on pieces of paper or old diaries.

rice mixed with pickles

As for the cooking styles my ammayee's is more nuanced and very succinct whereas aatha's very rustic and very creative. She paired items that normally nobody would have thought to do but in hindsight always made sense. What I particularly remember are her pickles. We always had bottles from ammayee which can be neatly categorized as mango, garlic, lemon and a mixed vegetable pickle would be precisely that with mixed vegetables. Aatha's pickles on the other hand were hard to categorize, lemon pickles did not have just lemon, mango pickles did not have just mangoes and in a way all of them were mixed vegetable. The lemon pickle had green chilies, ginger(thanks to Cilantro for reminding me, the mango ginger or ma inji was as far as I knew only used by aatha), garlic and green pepper corns, the mango pickle had lemon juice, garlic and green chilies. It did not have too much red chili powder the taste came mostly from the green chilies, garlic or ginger. Her pickles were a lighter shade and very fragrant. Some of her other pickles like magali kilangu pickles made with sour buttermilk as one of the ingredients have been just her speciality, I know of no one who has even attempted it.

So when I chanced upon this mango pickle recipe in this delightful blog whose contributors are college pals there was no looking back. I had picked up the mangoes earlier in the week to try out one of who else but ammayee's recipes. The pickle rather reminded me so much of aatha. The combination of ginger, garlic and green chilies along with the mangoes looked like something she would make.

Recipe Inspiration: Kaduku Manga Achar

Instant cut mango pickle with ginger, garlic and green chilies
1. 1 Firm green mango cut into small cubes - 2 cups worth
2. 6-8 garlic cloves chopped into small pieces
3. 1 inch piece of ginger sliced into thin sticks (julienned)
4. 8 green chilies sliced into small rounds
6. juice from 2 limes/lemons - a little less than 1/2 cup
7. distilled white vinegar - 1/4 cup (optional, did not have enough lemon juice so added a bit of vinegar)
8. 1 tbsp pickle masala powder or red chili powder
9. 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
10. 1/2 tsp fenugreek/methi seeds
11. a small tiny piece of asfoetida (1/4 tsp)
12. mustard seeds
13. 1/4 cup of sesame oil
14. salt - 1/2 tbsp or as per requirement

1.Roast the methi seeds and asfoetida and make a fine powder.
1. In a kadai or wide mouthed pan, heat the oil and when hot add the mustard seeds and let them splutter
2. Now add the ginger, garlic and green chilies and let them cook for 2 minutes
3. Add the turmeric, chili and methi powders. Give a good mix for 30 seconds
4. Add the lemon juice and let it come to a slight boil. Switch off the heat and add the vinegar if using.
5. Add the mango pieces and salt and mix. Let cool and transfer to a glass jar.


  1. Indo, I can't stop salivating on the mere sight of the pickle. Just imagining this with creamy curd rice...I am in cloud 9. You ae true. My paternal grandma left us before my father's marriage and hence never had a chance to taste anything. She is known fo her cooking style and kolams. In turn my maternal grandma stayed with us till my college days. I always pair her memories with food and I too wish I should b fondl remembered by all from my food. The heart has direct connections with our tastebuds I believe ;)

  2. My Hubby's ammayi too makes this instant mango pickle as well as my dad's mom(who no more)..I think this is a Std Patti recipe..the most yummy pickle on earth too :)!

  3. ....Indo, Here's wishing you a FANTASTIC year ahead

  4. Yummy! love pickles and I like the picture where you have it mixed with rice.. makes me drool

  5. What a lovely post and tribute to your two grandmothers, ISG :) Where are you getting green mangoes, btw? I love the color of the spices, and with the rice, delicious!

  6. Lovely story and such a delicious looking pickle.

  7. I have never actually tasted my bamma's (father's mother) cooking.. but my ammamma (mother's mom) is an excellent cook.. her specialties - potato fry with sambar.. along with various pickles she still makes for 4 households..:) the mango pickle looks delicous ISG.. this post reminds me of both of my grandmoms so much..:)

    Wishing you a very a happy new year.


  8. Linda, I picked a couple at our international market(Asian). I can't seem to resist buying whenever I see one. Raw mango + drumstick = yummy sambhar. You have got to try.

  9. Sunitha, thanks to your beautifully presented post. I made the pickles the day I saw them.

  10. Indo,
    Don't know how I missed your post on your grandma's book. What a treasure it is. Is it available now and where can I find it? I would love to get a copy.


  11. I wish I was able to witness and learn cooking from both my paternal and maternal grandmothers, not that I didn't get to, but I wish I had a sense and a desire to learn cooking from a very tender age, when they used to cook. Now both of the are *very* old, and do not cook often. But they are a treasure house of valuable suggestions, tips and tricks.
    Mango pickle reminds me of India, makes me nostalgic, and immensely hungry!

  12. Oh! mouth watering already....looking at that.....yummy pickle.....slurpy slurpy!!!!


  13. Indo, we too make an instant cut mango pickle but it doesn't have any fresh ingredients besides the mango itself - we also add a bit of fenugreek and mustard powder to give it some longevity, besides taste (the long-term pickle has those in copious amounts).

    Why don't we cook? I think we are of a different mindset, we have jobs, careers, other interests and duties, other alternatives to cooking (restaurants and take-outs), fewer taboos (about eating non-home food). Who wants to be tied to a single - or several - duties (as against recreational activity) the whole day, as many of our grans were? We don't want to be defined by our cooking and housekeeping skills, or put another way, that's not the sole (or one of the v few) source of recognition available to us.

    Maybe I'm digressing but some women also think it gives them power over the family and I've had a cousin tell me that it's the woman who gets to decide what the family eats - how much of a power is that, really, unless you decide you're going to take a holiday and tell the others to look out for themselves?

  14. mango pickle and yogurt rice..yum yum..

  15. I love this instant pickle. Amma makes them with mangai, narthangai,mainji and many more.
    I wish I was lucky enough to spend some time with my Grandmas. Both my grandmas passed away before I was born...

  16. I can live for days on curd rice with this accompaniment.I want,I need molaga manga now.Drool-rific pictures!

  17. Pickles anytime! I recently spotted Star Fruit, bought couple of them to pickle and store them for Summer usage.

    Nice one, pics are very nice...

  18. Yummmy.....lovely story too:)

  19. I am just drooling..
    Very different recipe for pickles, we never heat it, something new to try though.

  20. one look at the picture and my mouth waters. these are delectable.
    Food for me are associated with the memories of life.My maternal aunt(dida) was very famous for her culinary skills. I have plans to write about her.

  21. What a beautiful writeup! Love the recipe too, its going right to my bookmark folder! I am a cut mango pickle lover, so this one is just perfect for me..

  22. Your lovely post got me thinking about my 2 grandmothers... and their different styles of cooking. This mango pickle looks awesome.. i've always only made the instant mango pickle every once in a while. The pickle mixed rice looks divine.

  23. ooh- yummy!! I love this kind of mango pickle (actually I love any kind of mango pickle..lol)..It reminds me of the pickle served in weddings but with garlic. The addition of garlic seems interesting. Will definitely try this if/when I get my hands on some green mangoes. Loved how you described both your grandmothers' cooking!!

  24. Beautiful post, Indo! The picture makes me salivate! So true about cooking skills in a generation or two that were ahead of us. So much was lost (not just cooking skills) when my ammamma passed away. I miss her. :(

    Btw, my mom makes that maagaali kilangu pickle in buttermilk. So, maybe it's a regional thing?? I wouldn't be in the same room as the open pickle jar because that one stinketh! But it is a fav pickle of my mom and sister and would give me dagger looks if I dared to breath a word about it. Do you like that pickle?

  25. Cilantro, thanks for reminding me it was aatha who introduced me to ma inji.

    Kay, I am with you on that one, hated the thing while my mom totally loved it. It in all probability is a regional thing, of all people I knew (that is pickle making people) aatha was the only one who made it.

  26. Some delicious pickle there ...If only I could get those mangoes here...hmm...

  27. lovley post ,,,thnks reminds me of my grandma...

  28. This is so beautiful, Indo! It incidentally looks just like my maternal grandmother's pickle!! Great way to end the year, with lovely cherished memories! Hope you have a fantastic year ahead!

  29. Looks absolutely delicious. First time here, you have a lovely space.


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