While on the subject of the tropics, I thought I would whip up a jar of Mango Achar. Well, not exactly “whip up” as it is a bit of a labourious event.
For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of tasting Mango Achar, it is a fiery condiment which probably originated in the West Indies. I say “probably” as there are certainly versions of it that can be found in India. Nevertheless, this one hails from Trinidad (there are also Guyanese versions too).
I had my first taste of it from a lovely woman Jan who was hawing her wares down at the Harbourfront Hot and Spicy Festival many summers ago. One taste and I was hooked! I made sure I would visit her booth every year and one purchase turned into buying cases of the stuff.
A couple years back she stopped doing the festival and I was horrified. How would I get my mango achar? Well, I guess I would just have to go online to find some recipes. This is where I ran into some trouble. All the recipes said “dry in the sun” for 5 days. Well, maybe in the dog days of summer might you get 5 days in a row hot enough for drying, but my first attempt turned them into a slimy mess due to the humidity here. In addition, many of the recipes didn’t have very precise measurements, more like “a handful of this”, or “just enough”. So when trying this, don’t fret, just experiment and do your best.
Well, I managed to get my hands on a dehydrator thanks to a friend (you could use
the oven on a very cool setting like 200 deg. or less) and I shredded up 3 green mangos.
After they dried I added some browned garlic, a couple of hot peppers and about 2
teaspoons of Amchar Masala (recipe below), put it in a clean canning jar and covered
it with mustard oil. Then, I put it in the fridge and waited, and waited, and waited! It took
a good 2 months before all the flavours started to meld together, but it was worth the
wait! Next time I’ll be sure and do a few more jars.
Now you might be wondering what do I use it with? Traditionally the condiment is added to any rice dish, beans etc. But what I love, when the tomatoes are in their full glory, to spread it on a piece of bread with tomato and mozarella (or any other mild cheese)..HEAVENLY!!
Amchar Masala mix
4 Tbs. coriander seed
1 Tbs cumin2 tps whole black pepper
1 tsp fennel seed
1tsp mustard seed
1 tsp fenugreek
(You may want to grind it up together with a spice grinder
or mortar & pestle for a finer texture)