Andhra Aavakaaya with Green Mangoes

In a culture where the pride of the garden is mango and spices rule the kitchen, mango aavakaaya is a prayer answered for heavenly meals. South Indian people around the world prepare aavakaaya during summer time, wherever green, unripe mangoes are available. This centuries-old culinary tradition has roots in Andhra Pradesh. Aava means mustard in Telugu and the pickle prepared with mustard base is called Aavakaaya. This is a much-loved pickle in many families and traditional bhojanam would always have mango aavakaaya as part of the meal. Words really do not do justice to describe the aavakaaya taste; I think one must have to experience the exquisite flavor of this culinary royalty.

Aavakaaya is all natural ingredients and easy to make at home. Prepare it with fresh ingredients, add enough salt and keep the pickle making area and vessels dry and moisture free. Follow these pickle precautions for successful tradition of aavakaaya. The most difficult thing is finding green mangoes, particularly if you live in the US. Green mangoes are unripe mangoes plucked prematurely in their earlier stage of growth. Green, unblemished skin, hard and crisp flesh with mouth puckering sour taste – this type of green mango is optimal for aavakaaya.

Mango Aavakaaya
(Makes about 75 oz Aavakaaya)

Ingredients needed:
We need 8 ingredients for basic aavakaaya preparation

4 large green mangoes (about 9 cups cut mangoes)
1 cup, red chilli powder
1 to 1+quarter cups, sea salt or iodine free salt
1/2 teaspoon, turmeric

3/4 cup, mustard seeds (aavaalu)
1/4 cup, methi seeds (menthi)
2 cups sesame oil, Indian variety
1/4 teaspoon, hing (inguva)

Green Mangoes:
1. Pick rock-hard green mangoes with unblemished skin. Wash under water and then dry with a clean cloth. Make sure they are completely dry and do not peel the skin.
2. On a clean, dry cutting board, with a dry, sharp knife, slice the mango through the center going from top to bottom. The inner stone covering the seed in green mangoes have not had a chance to harden completely so we can actually cut right through the seedstone with a sharp knife. Discard the seed. (Seed is not edible, remove it completely.)
3. Cut the mango into slices, with the stone wall included and then cut the slices into 1/2 inch dice.
4. Take the mango slices in a big and dry stainless steel or ceramic bowl. Sprinkle with red chilli powder, salt and turmeric. With a wooden spoon, gently mix well. Set aside. Do not cover the bowl.

Aavakaaya Base:
Aavakaaya Powder: Heat a cast-iron kadai or skillet. When skillet is hot, add first methi seeds and then mustard seeds. Roast them on low heat for couple of minutes, stirring constantly to fragrance. Turn off the heat and cool the ingredients. Take them in a mixer, grind to fine powder. This is aavakaaya powder.
Aavakaaya Oil: In the same skillet that was used for aavakaaya powder, pour sesame oil. Warm the oil on moderate heat. Add hing and gently mix. Turn off the heat. Cool the oil. This is now aavakaaya oil. We could also add peeled garlic cloves to prepare garlic aavakaaya variety.

Mango Aavakaaya:
Add aavakaaya powder and aavakaaya oil over mango pieces. Gently mix well. Transfer the pickle to a clean, dry, wide mouthed ceramic or glass jar with a non-corrosive lid. Close loosely and place the jar on the kitchen countertop where air circulates freely. Mix once a day with a wooden spoon for a week.

Within hours, mango pieces start to take in the aavakaaya powder and oil. As a result, volume also reduces. Aavakaaya keep maturing with time and the mango pieces become from just sour to a potent combination of hot-salty sour with mustard-methi pungency mixed in.

Mango Aavakaaya will keep for several months to a year without refrigeration.

Amazing Aavakaaya:
Mango aavakaaya may be eaten within 2 days of making it, though it continues to mellow with time. For daily meals, what we do is take small portions from the main jar into a small cup or jar. In this way, the main pickle source won’t get disturbed daily and the chance of spoil would be less.

Mix few pieces of mango aavakaaya with hot, cooked rice, any kind of dal and warm ghee. Combine the four well. Make small, round sized portions (mudda). Enjoy the mango aavakaaya mudda!

Mango Aavakaaya Preparation in Images

Green, Unripe Mangoes
Green Mangoes with Unblemished Skin For Mango Aavakaaya

Quarter the mangoes and discard the seed
Slice the mangoes lengthwise, cutting through the Mango Seedstone.

Cut Mangoes
Discard the Seed and Slice the Mango, About 1/4-inch Thickness

Mangoes cut for aavakaaya
Cut the Mango Slices to 1/2-inch Dice

Mustard and methi powder for aavakaaya
Prepare Aavakaaya Powder (Methi-Mustard Powder)

Mangoes mixed with aavakaaya powder
Mix Mangoes with Aavakaaya Powder, Chilli Powder, Salt and Turmeric

Mangoes with aavakaaya powder and sesame oil
Add Aavakaaya Oil to Mango Pieces and Mix Well.

Mango Aavakaaya
Store the Mango Aavakaaya in a Jar

Meal Today
Mango Aavakaaya Bhojanam ~ An Andhra Experience

Aavakaaya is our cherished culinary heritage. I feel fortunate to prepare it at home and share it with you here on Mahanandi.

Notes:
for 7 big mangoes, for 13 cups cut mango -
1+1/2 cups each – sea salt, chilli powder and mustard powder, 1/4 cup of methi powder and 2 cups of sesame oil.

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