Friday, June 06, 2008
Aavakkaya is the pickle synonymous with Andhra Pradesh. The utterance of the word “Aavakkai” tickles the taste buds. And when you make it, you cannot but help your mouth watering. The aroma of the newly made pickle is so intoxicating. Aavakkaya literally means pickled with mustard powder (aavalu in Telugu means mustard) and rightly so, mustard powder is the main preservative here along with gingelly oil.
When one of my son’s assistants brought home a basket full of mangoes, I was at a loss not knowing what to do with so many raw mangoes. I asked him why he brought so many mangoes when I would have been happy with 2 or 3. “Pickle them, Mummyji,” he said. That’s when I thought of making Aavakkaya. As I had not made this pickle in recent times, I called my friend Sujatha, to ask for the method. She promptly said, “I will come tomorrow and help you. Keep chilli powder, salt, mustard powder and oil and other things ready.” I was only too happy to get the things ready, as I did not have to worry about the final product. I have been getting to taste Sujatha’s mother’s Aavakkaya every year. And they are superb.
She specifically told me not to buy the mustard powder, but to buy mustard, sun dry and grind them fresh. "Or else," she said, "the pickle will taste bitter." So I went and bought all the ingredients and sun dried them . I also washed all the mangoes thoroughly and dried them in shade, by spreading them in a clean towel, to remove all moisture.
Sujatha came promptly at 11 am next morning and we started the preparation.We cut the mangoes into large pieces and measured them. Accordingly we measured the other ingredients. Here is the ratio:
Raw mango pieces: 5 measures ( approximately 3.5 Kg)
Red chilli powder : 1measure (I used 300gms. One may add upto 500gms., depending on individual preference)
Freshly ground mustard powder: 1 measure ( here again those who like the taste of mustard oil can use upto 500 gms )
Salt: 1 ¼ measure(8oogms)
Whole fenugreek seeds: 50 gms
Turmeric powder: 2 tbsp.
Good quality gingelly oil: 1 ltr
The mangoes should have firm stone inside.(the stone should be attached to the flesh of the mango and when cut through, the stone should still be attached to the mango pieces.) Wash and dry the mangoes in a clean towel in shade. Cut them into large pieces.Discard the soft seed portion .
Keep the other ingredients ready(in the proportion given above).
Keep a large glass jar or earthenware jar washed and sun-dried, ready. (As I was in Hyderabad, where I function with minimum kitchen gadgets, I did not have a glass jar or earthenware jar. Hence I used a large pet jar).
Now comes the most difficult part. Mixing the ingredients. Sujatha insisted on mixing them with hands. I would have preferred mixing them with a large spatula, as my skin is very sensitive to chilli powder.
Mix all the dry ingredients(chilli powder, mustard powder, salt,turmeric powder and fenugreek seeds) thoroughly. Take another large shallow pan for the final mixing. Into this pan, transfer a portion of the cut mango pieces. Add a portion of the pickle masala to the mangoes. Pour 1 or 2 spoonfuls of gingelly oil and mix the contents thoroughly with hand or a spatula. Transfer them to the jar. Repeat this process, until all the mango pieces and pickle masala are used up. Top the jar with the remaining oil and pickle masala, if any. Keep the jar in a cool dry place. Within an hour, you can see the gravy oozing out of the mango pieces and within 2 to 3 hours, there would be a 1”top layer of oil and gravy above the mango pieces(called “Oota” in telugu). This is the sign of right quantity of ingredients, said, Sujatha’s mother, when I called her to report the event. Stir it thoroughly with a dry spoon every day for 5 days, she said. I followed her instructions and the results were just superb.