I just got away with the last raw mango of the season. Well nearly the last one! We were at this Indian store that was 15 miles and a half hour drive away from our place. We were gone there for some other essentials and decided to pay a visit at the store for grocery. As I was handpicking a few fresh juicy lime to bring home, I saw a clear plastic bag with what appeared to contain a couple more limes, tucked slyly between two vegetable crates. But wait, these weren’t limes at all. Rather these were small green raw mangoes! For once I thought it was an ambitious customer filling them in the bag and later abandoning them after a sudden gush of self-realization…either realizing that there needs to be an abrupt cutting down on grocery expenditure, or because there was an instant change of mind and he/she swaped the raw mangoes for another chosen fortunate veggie.
A passing stock clerk noticed me looking down at the bag of mangoes closely. He came up and said “Did this bag bother you? Please don’t mind them (whisking the bag away in the hideout, from where I had fished them out). These are the only ones we’re left from this season’s supply. We aren’t getting anymore. Busy customers tend to misplace these small green mangoes here and there, and then it gets so difficult for us to seek each of these back together. Which is why we have secured them this way you see. But we’ll be glad to hand them over to anyone precisely asking for them!”
Wow…I thought! Were these so precious end-of-season? It didn’t take me a second thought to drop one firm happy raw mango into my grocery bag. My husbandman wasn’t fond of the tangy raw mangoes. So I gave a quick glance in the direction where I had stationed him to catch his reaction — but he wasn’t looking at me. He was all absorbed doing what he was doing. I had asked him to handpick tender young okra and half-fill a gallon bag — a task he doesn’t enjoy at all, and yet had obliged to do that day. Unlike the standard practice in most Indian/Pakistani stores, S and I hate snipping off the okra tips as a check for the veggie’s eligibility criteria. Why spoil the veggies and leave them all looking unappealing (with broken tips) and unfit for sale, just because some indifferent people wanted to ruin them for the sake of quality testing? I believe it’s the most selfish way to shop and an unethical customer-habit in itself. Nonetheless, I tend to ramble just like that, especially if it’s something (like people snipping off all okra’s in a store) that puts me off. And even if it means digressing from the raw mangoes and talking about okra on a Nectarine and Mango pickle post! I can be this weird at times!!
So as you may have had guessed it by now, I did bring that precious season’s last raw mango home. But just one. The couple others in the store looked too sick. My husbandman is not quite fond of the tangy coriander or mint chutneys that I often do using raw mangoes. He also isn’t a typical Indian pickle loving man. And I happen to be the only soul at home who loves and licks up all the green chutneys I make (if I don’t find another buddy to share it with), or buys and wipes clean every bit of the hot Indian vegetable pickle with scoops of parathas and rotis or with the more comforting daal-chawal. S being a true blooded Bong with prominent East Indian taste-buds is rather fond of the Bengali style “Tok-Jhal-Mishti Achaar” (sweet, tangy and spicy pickles) — the type our grandmothers used to make for us. The pickles they made were a beautiful yet complex blend with underlying basic tastes that left a note of a lip smacking “yum” as an aftertaste.
For all the effort, patience and time it took him to handpick half a gallon of best okra from the store without any protest, I decided to reward him with the sweet and spicy relish. However, with so many things to do on that day, I couldn’t afford the elaborate pickle making process my Deeda and Thakuma (my maternal and paternal Grandma) would have undertaken to do. My short cut pickle recipe was a simple “grate, roast, grind and mix” technique. No oil, almost no cooking (except for one dry roasting), and minimally added salt and sugar — makes it an easy relish brimming with natural flavors.
I chose select ingredients to pull in the individual flavor components — nectarine for sweetness, ginger for a pungent kick, raw mango and lime juice for a sharp sour taste, chilies to punch in some heat and roasted spices for the aroma and spiciness.
This pickled relish sure tickles the tastebuds! Side it with absolutely anything to add in that zing. I love it on my toast and butter…it makes it heaven. It is not only a great everyday condiment with meals, but it also makes a great loving gift! Spoon them into a clean and sterilized jar, tie a natural fiber yarn around and use a label, or cut a small piece of burlap and wrap the lid. Give it your friends and share the happiness. I like to do it this way. This one’s such a crowd pleaser and tastes deliciously different than most relishes. Hope you love this too!
Yields about 8 oz or 230 gms of the relish
- 2 Nectarines or Peaches
- 2 small raw or unripe green mangoes
- 1 inch ginger root
- 4 dry Kashmiri red chilies (use less for less heat)
- 1 Indian hot green chilly (**Optional)
- 2 tsp coriander seeds (dhania)
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds (sarson)
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
- 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
- 1/4 tsp carom seeds (ajwain)
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds (saunf)
- About 1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)
- About 2 tsp sugar
- Juice of half lime (or more to taste)
- 1/2 tsp chaat masala (**optional)
- 1/4 tsp peppercorns (**optional — add only if you like more heat)
- Peel, wash, de-seed and grate the raw mangoes and nectarines in a mixing bowl
- Peel, wash and grate the ginger in the same bowl
- Clean and crush the green chilly (if using it) into very fine shreds. Transfer them to the mixing bowl.
- On a clean and dry frying pan over medium heat, roast the coriander, cumin, carom, fennel, fenugreek and mustard seeds along with dry red chillies. (If you’d like to use the peppercorns, add/roast them in this step with other spices.) Keep stirring and roasting till they are nicely done, aromatic and slightly browned. Take care not to burn them. Transfer the roasted mixture into an electric dry mixer/grinder. (I sometimes also use my mortar and pestle to pound and reduce the spices to a coarse mix).
- Dry grind the roasted mixture into a coarse spice blend. Then transfer them to the mixing bowl.
- Add salt, sugar, chaat masala and lime juice. With a clean dry spoon, mix them all together.
- Adjust the seasoning to suit your taste.
- Spoon them carefully into sterile glass jars and cover with lid. Let it sit in the refrigerator overnight to allow the juices to diffuse together, before serving them as a condiment, alongside your favorite foods.
** If you love smooth chutneys and not a big fan of textures or if you run out of time, then there’s one other way of doing this relish. Peel, remove seeds and chop the nectarines and raw mango. Transfer them to an electric mixer. Add peeled and chopped ginger pieces, the roasted spices and the remaining ingredients together. Blend on low speed to obtain a smooth chutney. Alternatively, if you’d like to cut down on that little crunch and like a softer relish, feel free to boil the mixture minimally, before jarring and letting it cool down before refrigerating.
STORAGE⇒ This pickled relish keeps well in the refrigerator (under cool and dry conditions) for about a month. It can also be freezed into cubes and used up in a year’s time.