The secret guide to a delicious, lick-able Amra chutney in jiffy
Amra, Ambadda, wild mango, ambara, Indian hog plum, amade, ambade, amado, adavimamidi, buah umbra, casharana, golden plum, makok farang, jobo indio, prune cythere-so many names to call this fruit all over the globe! But whatever name we have for it one thing stays the same- the beautiful flavor, the touch of tartness and the crunch-well almost. The botanical name for this fruit is perhaps spondias pinnata, spondias dulcis. Okay so enough of names.
You know when I came to know that Amra is also known as wild mango , I had an eye brow raised simply because the flavors are quiet different, leave apart the sizes that amra’s are tiny in front of majestic mangoes! But then when I bite into a piece of amra chutney at a certain point of time I said to myself “hey this reminds me of a certain mango!” now this has to do something with the cooking because they are literally quite different in flavor n texture. They have literally a beautiful flavor, especially when combined with salt and a dash of chili powder, it becomes fantastic. If you enjoy tartness, imagine adding an extra crunch to that because Amra is crunchy! Wonderful huh! N how it makes us salivate thinking about them. So if you get your hands on them somehow, grab them, sit down and indulge slowly.
Traditionally in this part of the world the flesh of the Amra is used in both savory and sweet chutneys. In sweet chutneys their tartness is balanced with sugar while in the savory we combine them with salt, the heat from chilies, pepper and sometimes pungency from the mustard. I must tell you about this time in my life when I was in school and just outside the gates of my school there used to be a few good men who served quick snack for the kids. In the months of early monsoon, one of them used to bring a heap of these green fruits, he used to slice them with knife, sprinkle chili powder and a mix of two different salts on them and sell them to us. I remember during the afterhours of school when I will be walking along with my friends to the station nearby, biting into one of the fruits brought from that man, my hands wet with the juices that the salt bring out of them and inside my mouth there was an explosion of flavors! You know I love those moments.
Now talking of the cooking tradition, apart from the sweet chutney, Amra is used in flavoring Dals/Dahls, it is cooked with the red lentils known as “Masoor” where it gives off its flavor and adds a touch of tang to the dal. When the Amra fruits ripen, the flesh of them is smashed with salt, pink rock salt, chilies, sugar, sometimes with a touch of garlic and coriander leaves and enjoyed as a savory finger-licking mash. In another version of sweet chutney they are cooked with coconut milk where it is pronounced with the flavors of coconut milk and its creaminess.
There is a very special dish that is a popular evening- time snack, served here. The interesting thing is almost no one makes it at home but everyone who has tasted this looks forward to this in the evening time. The sellers appear in the evening walking the streets, they carry the ingredients with them and especially what they carry is a mobile burner or lamp! They carry that source of heat with them to keep warm the crispy fried sticks made from a batter of dals n a few spices, the fried sticks are then mixed together with peanuts and potato chips…and they are called “Chanachur”. This is what they keep warm and later on when we order for one, they mix this crispy chanchur with chopped red onion, green chilies, coriander leaves, salt and then the much awaited chopped Amra. Oh it is such a pleasure eating them and I can never eat just one, as soon as I finish I order one again. Oh! Now you must know what this dish is called, they are known as “Ghoti Garam” which literally means a metal pot known as “Ghoti” is Hot “Garam”. The thing is they carry this chanachur in a metal pot perhaps made from brass and they keep it warm by placing the burning burner below them, hence comes the name. Wouldn’t you love to try that?
The chutney that I’m posting here about deals with a very few flavors, so easy to make that it feels almost effortless. The main star flavor is of the Amra fruits, supported by the flavor of whole black mustard seeds, sugar, turmeric for its flavor and brilliant color and a touch of salt. You can enjoy them with some crispy papads or crispy salted chips, French fries, crispy-fried noodles, in tacos, crispy fried fish n chips! Let your imagination run freely and let this chutney pamper you like anything. Bon appétit.
Now I will tell you the recipe.
For The Recipe: you will need
Unripe Amra fruits-250 gm
Granulated sugar-1/2 -1 cup, it varies according to taste and their tartness.
1 tsp whole black mustard seeds
1 tsp of mustard oil
½ tsp of turmeric powder
1 ½ -2 cups of water
¼ tsp of salt
Pinch of pink rock salt.
1. Let’s begin, slice the fruits lengthwise into 1 inch by ½ inch rectangular slices. Sprinkle a pinch of turmeric powder on them and mix lightly. No need to take their skins off. Now in a saucepan pour the sugar with 1 ½ -2 cups of water, put the heat on the lowest flame. Stir the sugar in between until the sugar completely dissolves, once dissolved put the heat on medium and let it come to almost a simmer. As it reaches almost simmer pour the cut fruits in that syrup and cover them, bring the heat down to low.
2. In a separate pan on medium heat add the mustard oil, once it is hot add the whole black mustard seeds, as they just begin to crackle, take the pan off the heat, add the rest of the turmeric powder in that oil and then pour this whole thing into the sugar-Amra mixture. Now cover it again and leave it for about 10 minutes on low heat.
3. Check the flavor after 10 minutes, add more sugar if you think you will like it that way, add the salt, the pink rock salt- 2/3 pinches, taste it again, if satisfied give them another 5 minutes where the flavors mingle with each other. At the end of 15 minutes put the flame off and give it 2min standing time, then take them out in a plate or container and let it cool.
Now dig in and enjoy J