Our next destination on our exciting Pickling journey takes us to West Bengal. Many of you are already familiar with the fact that Bengali folks have a sweet tooth – so it should come as no surprise that the pickle we will explore in this post has a sense of spiciness with a dash of sweetness. This pickle is called Gur Aam ka Achar and you can enjoy it with pretty much any meal or snack.
Here are the ingredients that you will require.
Raw Mangoes: 500 grams
Jaggery (Gur): 500 grams
Sugar: 4 tablespoons
Mustard Oil: 500 millilitres
Paanch Phoron: 2 teaspoons
Dry Red Chillies: 2
Turmeric (Haldi) Powder: Half a teaspoon
Red Chilli Powder: Half a teaspoon
Salt: to taste
For those who are not familiar with “Paanch Phoron” mentioned in the ingredients above, it is a mixture of five popular spices. Paanch means five and Phoron means spices. The five spices are fennel (Saunf), cumin (Jeera), fenugreek (Methi), nigella (Kalonji) and mustard seeds (Rai). These five spices are mixed in equal quantities to create Paanch Phoron. Yes, you can find readymade packaged products in shops and online sites – but if you want to revive the memories and magic of grandma’s pickles, it’s best to use fresh spices.
Because of the jaggery being used in this recipe, there is some amount of residual moisture in this pickle – so it may not last as long as other pickles. That is why the ingredients given above are for around 10 servings.
Peel the raw mangoes and remove the seed. Cut the mangoes into long pieces, around an inch in length. Coat each mango piece with turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt. Spread the mango pieces out on a tray or a large plate and put them out in the sun to dry. In strong bright sunshine, this should take around four hours.
Coarsely grate the jaggery.
In a pan, mix the jaggery and sugar with a little water (just a couple of tablespoons should be enough) and mix well. Place the pan on a low flame and keep stirring till the mixture thickens. Let the contents simmer on a low flame.
In another larger pan heat around four tablespoons of Mustard Oil on a Medium flame and add the dry red chillies and the Paanch Phoron. Sauté till the mustard seeds in the Paanch Phoron begin to splutter. Then add the dried mango pieces and continue frying till the mango pieces become tender.
Next, add the jaggery mixture and mix well. Continue cooking till jaggery takes on a jam-like consistency. Turn the flame off. Let the contents of the pan cool down to room temperature.
Take a glass or porcelain pickling jar and sterilize it. Ensure that it is completely dry. There should be no residual moisture inside the jar. We have pointed out on multiple occasions that moisture is the bane of pickling – that’s why you need to be extra careful when you are getting your pickling jar ready.
Pour the mango and jaggery mixture into the jar. Next, pour the remaining Mustard Oil into the jar. Make sure that the mixture is completely immersed in Mustard Oil, with the oil level around one centimetre above the mango pieces. You can add more Mustard Oil if required.
Next, cover the mouth of the jar with a clean, dry muslin cloth and hold it in place by tying a string around the neck of the jar. Place the jar out in the bright summer sunshine. For this, a terrace or a rooftop is ideal because such places get continuous sunshine throughout the day. However, if such spots are not accessible you can also put the jar out on a balcony or on a window sill – but you will need to move it around as the sun shifts across the sky.
It is important to bring the jar indoors at night to prevent moisture from setting in. Also, when the jar is indoors, please place it in a dry environment, away from moist or damp areas. Continue this sunning process for four days.
Your Gur Aam Achaar is now ready. The delightful thing about this pickle is that it offers a subtle blend of tingling spices and gentle sweetness. It adds a distinctive dimension to the flavours of your meal.