Aavakaya (Spicy raw mango pickle)

Aavakaya (Spicy raw mango Pickle), Andhra style
Making mango pickle is a yearly event for us. My mother would try various recipes, and every time, the pickle would taste different (in a not-so-nice way!). Finally we all put our feet down and decided to go to the expert, ie., a neighbour, Annapurnamma, my mother’s friend. She was an expert at cooking and pickles. Every year, my mother would send me to request her to come and mix the mango pickle. After a few years, Annapurnamma suggested why don’t I learn and do it myself! It is several years since, and never once my mango pickle spoiled! This is basically her recipe; I altered the chilli proportion a bit.
Let me warn you at the outset, this pickle is very spicy. It is not for the faint hearted!

Ingredients:
Raw mangoes, medium size, should be very sour – 25 nos.
Salt – 4 cups (heaped)
Chili powder – 5 cups (heaped)
Mustard powder – 6 cups (heaped)
Gingelly oil – 1.5 lts. (2 lts. would be better)
Hing (Asofoetida) – 15 gms.
Methi (Fenugrrek) & Chana (Bengal gram), whole grains – 50 gms. each
Haldi (Turmeric powder) – 1.5 tbs.

Method:
The mangoes have to be very firm, meaning, pickle has to be made as soon as they are plucked / bought. Keep them in a bucket of water until rest of the preparations are done. Clean them with water; wipe them dry with cloth and spread them on a cloth, in the shade. Cut them through the seed, into 1” (inch) cubes. Keep the pieces aside.
Take a big dish, add salt, chili powder, mustard powder, turmeric, fenugreek, Bengal gram, asafoetida. Mix all the dry ingredients thoroughly until it becomes a homogeneous mixture.
Put 3 handfuls of mango pieces in a separate dish, add 3 – 4 table spoons of the spice mixture to it. Mix both thoroughly with hand. Make sure all sides of all mango pieces are coated with spices. Transfer into a big dish (preferably stainless steel utensil). Repeat the process of mixing mango pieces and spice mixture in batches and transferring to the big dis.
Clean, wipe, dry the ceramic / pickle jar and keep it handy. Keep aside half a liter of gingelly oil.
From the remaining 1 liter oil, keep adding half cup of oil to 5 tbs. of mango mixture, mix well, making sure oil has coated the pieces on all sides. Transfer this to the jar. Repeat the process of mixing oil and transferring to jar.
When all the mango pieces with spices and oil has been put in the jar, tap it down, and finally pour the half liter of oil (which was kept aside), over it. Close the jar with the lid.

On the third day, mix the pickle. Wait for a week until mango pieces are well soaked in the spices, and your mango pickle is ready to eat. 

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