Andhra Aavakaaya ~ Tomato Aavakaaya with Green Tomatoes

Aavakaaya is a type of centuries-old pickle tradition from Andhra Pradesh, India. In aavakaaya, the dressing itself forms the base and the green, raw vegetables are used subordinately to add texture, flavor and color. Freshly grounded dried red chillies and mustard seeds play leading role, supported by methi seed powder, salt and sesame oil. This aavakaaya base goes exceptionally well with green, unripe mangoes, lemon-cukes and also with green tomatoes.

Tomatoes, when they are immature and unripe have lemon-cuke like firm texture and sour, acidic flavor, so they are suitable to this style of traditional pickle making. This 100 plus year old recipe source is amma, Nandyala and the recipe suggestion came from a friend over dinner conversation. Thanks Kousalya and Sanjeev for the excellent suggestion.

Green tomatoes

Andhra Aavakaaya with Green Tomatoes
(for a small batch of about 3 cups pickle)

Green Tomatoes:
Pick about 6 medium-sized green tomatoes. They have to be firm with no damage to skin and when cut open, the insides have to be in green without any hint of pink or red ripening colors.
Rinse the tomatoes under water. Pat them dry with a clean cloth. On a dry cutting board, chop tomatoes finely into half-inch pieces (about 3 cups). Take the tomato pieces in a clean, dry glass or ceramic bowl.

Aavakaaya Base:

    For Aavakaaya Powder: Heat a skillet. When skillet is hot, add 2 tablespoons of black mustard seeds, half teaspoon of methi seeds and 10 ring finger length dried red chillies. Roast them to fragrance, constantly stirring. Cool the ingredients to room temperature. In a clean, dry mixer, take the roasted ingredients and grind them to fine powder. (About half cup of powder.)

    Aavakaaya Oil: In the same skillet, add quarter cup of Indian sesame oil. Heat the oil and add quarter teaspoon of hing powder. Gently mix and turn off the flame. Cool the oil to room temperature. Instead of hing, we could also add peeled garlic cloves and fresh sprig of curry leaves to oil for different ruchi.

Tomato Aavakaaya:
Sprinkle aavakaaya powder over green tomato pieces. Add quarter cup iodine-free, sea salt. Using a clean, dry wooden spoon, gently combine. Pour the aavakaaya oil. Mix well.

Ladle the pickle into a clean ceramic or glass jar. Cover loosely with a lid. Keep it undisturbed on the kitchen countertop and after three days, mix well again and start having it. This rest period will give enough time for tomatoes to absorb the aavakaaya seasoning.

Tomato aavakaaya tastes great with all types of traditional breakfast items and particularly with rice/roti -dal/dahi combination. It stays fresh up to a month as long as pickle precautions (no wet stuff, enough salt) are taken.

Here is the Tomato Aavakaaya preparation in images:

Chopped green tomatoes for aavakaaya

Green tomatoes mixed with aavakaaya powder and aavakaaya oil

Andhra Aavakaaya with Green Tomatoes

Note: The proportions I used above are for a general, mild preparation. Some people prefer using more Aavakaaya Powder and Aavakaaya Oil for their pickles. If you prefer making the pickle with more base, you could use one-and-half or two times the proportions, or to your liking.
For aavakaaya, we need Indian, untoasted sesame oil, available at Indian grocery shops. This is different from Chinese sesame oil.


11 Responses to “Andhra Aavakaaya ~ Tomato Aavakaaya with Green Tomatoes”

  1. Victoria says:

    Dear Indira, I was away for a while (went to India for more than a month for my wedding and then was working a lot to catch up on projects that appeared my absence,) however, your blog is always on my morning reading list. I am, in fact, making your lemon pickle (the cooked kind you posted a while ago.) I made it before, and it was a big hit at home. Once we start getting green tomatoes, I will definitely make this pickle. Perhaps, I will try it with green mangoes, since I have a few in my fridge now.

    Being in India (this time for a longer period, unlike a couple of weeks here and there like before) and spending lots of time with my husband’s family was great. They liked my interest in cooking and every day one of the ladies would try to show me how to make one or another specialties. His family is Marathi, but the side of the family we stayed with lives in Gujarat, so it is an interesting mix of dishes from both traditions.

    I also meant to ask you, is marathi moggu a spice specific to a particular region? We spent lots of time in Mumbai searching for it with no luck. I even brought a picture of it and tried to spell it out in Marathi, but it was a total mystery to spice vendors there. What kind of taste does it have?

    Good luck with your garden! It seems to reward your hard work with lots of beautiful vegetables.

  2. Mamatha says:

    I can almost imagine the taste of the tomato aavakaaya Indira.

    Off topic, in the comment section of an earlier post, you mentioned that you use neem spray to keep the bugs away. Do you make it at home or is it available in the store? If you make it at home, would you mind sharing how? Thanks much.

  3. Anu says:

    Why Iodine-free salt? Just curious !

  4. Anita says:

    I love pickles, this is such a new item for me. I never heard of it, sounds interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  5. harini-jaya says:

    Good idea ..never made green tomato pickle shall try it sometime soon…currently on vacation in India..

  6. Kay says:

    Mouth watering….. I gotto have it, I am going to get the green tomatoes right away.

  7. Indira says:

    Hearty congratulations on your marriage, dear Victoria! India is a great country, and I am happy that you have relations there and spent some time exploring the scents and cuisines.

    This recipe actually tastes very good with green, unripe mangoes. I also prepared mango aavakaaya yesterday.

    Marathi moggu is somewhat difficult to find, but can be found in shops that specializes in spices. There is a shop here in Houston which sells marathi moggu. Would you like me ship them for you? It would be my pleasure.

    Mamatha: Neem spray is store-bought and I bought it from a local nursery. I have also seen neem spray in Lowe’s, Home Depot here. Best bet is

    Anu: Iodine reacts with aavakaaya seasoning and changes it to black instead of vibrant maroon color we usually associate with aavakaaya as pickle ages.

    Anita and Kay: this is an easy pickle recipe to prepare at home. Adjust salt from 2 tablespoons to quarter cup as per your taste when you try. Mine tasted little bit salty with quarter cup salt.

    Harini-Jaya: Hope you are having a marvelous mango time in India. Happy vacation!

  8. Mamatha says:

    Thanks for the info Indira. I’ll look for it in Lowe’s or Home Depot.

  9. Sumana says:

    Love the look of the pachchi tomato avakaya. can you think of any more ways to cook green tomatoes? I’ve already make koora with onions, pappu and pachchadi. I’ve even used semi ripe ones in kurmas etc and also with sprouted massor dal. Any more novel ideas? Let me know. I am all out of ideas now. : (

  10. Narayan says:

    How yumm your pickles look (though I must admit that i am not much of a pickle relisher. I was visiting Switzerland recently and saw some unusually large tomatoes with a gory name (at least for a vegetarian) – Couer de Boef (translated to Heart of Bull). Here is a pic. (

    I still envy your kitchen garden and harvests. I plan on starting something, now that the Bombay monsoons are here.


  11. William says:

    I love the Southern US version of pickled green tomatoes and I love Indian flavors, so I cannot wait to make this when my tomatoes get going!

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