The trips to the market for spices are part of my childhood memories when I visited my maternal grandmother in Mumbai during the summer holidays which in hindsight was the initiation of my journey in Ayurveda. The summer months meant preparing fresh mango pickle which would then be stored for the whole year.
The process started with outlining the list of spices that would be needed – turmeric and bright red chili powder. It was fascinating – going to the spice market and learning about the different varieties of red chili powder – they varied in the fineness of the powder and the color. The one which was finely grounded and bright red in color was considered to be of a superior quality.
The list of spices was essential as my grandmother meticulously wrote down the exact quantities of the spices needed for each type of pickle that would be made – three types of sweet mango pickle and two types of spicy mango pickle.
It was during these shopping trips that my grandmother would explain to me how the pickles were prepared. The raw mangoes were cut into small pieces or shredded and then dried for about 2-3 weeks in the sun until they were completely dry. In parallel, the spices were mixed in the appropriate proportions and set aside. Once ready, the dry mango pieces are tossed in the spice in such a way that the red chili powder coating is visible on each mango piece.
Once the dry mixture has been done, oil is slowly poured into the mixture and tossed. The pickle is set aside to allow the oil to seep through and stirred every few days. This allows the spices to fully flavor the oil and in turn infiltrate the mango pieces and soften them.
At the outset, it all begins with some planning and the list of spices!