The bride and groom resplendent in their finery, she in her handwoven, red silk sari and gold jewelry, he in a dhoti and princely turban, are on stage surrounded by the priest and family members. The wedding guests rise to their feet as the music played by the wedding band in the corner of the large auditorium rises to a crescendo. When the priest gives the word, the guests all throw rice at the newly wedded couple, giving their approval and their blessing. The rice, as you can imagine, is everywhere. Welcome to a typical South Indian wedding.
While every community in India has different traditions and wedding ceremonies, one thing that is common to most Indian weddings is the large number of guests. Two thousand guests is nothing to bat an eyelid at.
One of my favorite parts of an Indian wedding, not surprisingly perhaps, is the food!
Even in large wedding halls, there are a few seatings for each meal due to the sheer number of people that have to be fed. The guests are seated in long rows and a banana leaf is placed in front of each one. Servers come by, each bearing one dish or side to be placed on the leaf. This is a wedding thali. One of my favorite sides which is also the simplest, is the instant mango pickle. It’s instant because with all the challenges that the wedding chef faces, he doesn’t have weeks or even days for the pickle to ‘set’.
Humble and modest though this pickle may be, its taste is anything but. It is tangy, fiery and complex.
This pickle should be consumed within a few days.
- 1 sour or unripe mango, finely diced with skin on
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (add more if this is not spicy enough for you)
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/8 teaspoon asafetida
- 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek (optional but adds wonderful depth)
- salt to taste
- juice of 1 lime (optional, needed if your mango is not sour)
- Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat till a mustard seed thrown into the oil sizzles. If you use mustard oil, heat it till it starts smoking.
- Throw in the mustard seeds and allow them to ‘splutter’. This should only take 5-10 seconds. Have a lid handy to cover the skillet and avoid a mess.
- Reduce the heat to medium.
- Add the chili powder, turmeric, asafetida and fenugreek. Allow the spices to cook for a few seconds while stirring well.
- Remove from heat before adding the mango pieces. Mix, squeeze lime juice and add salt to taste
Your mango pickle is ready. Use it as a condiment, mix into yogurt for a dip, use in sandwiches or just eat a bowl of it like I did!
The mango I bought was already a bit too ripe though it was green on the outside. Choose a firm one. I added lots of lime juice to make up for the lack of sourness.
The skin of the mangoes you get in the US is quite thicker than the mangoes used for this pickle in India. You can consider slightly peeling or peeling half the mango so there are fewer pieces with skin.
Veena’s Market Indian recipe kits can be purchased here.