The whiff of raw green mangoes invariably takes me to my childhood. Unlike many typical Indian girls who love eating kairi (raw green mangoes) or tamarind I was never fond of either. The reason why raw green mangoes induce this feeling of nostalgia is because they evoke the memory of my late Mum who lovingly and with great care would make a variety of pickles, relishes and chutneys with the raw green mangoes. She would work with each recipe with great care. The recipes were all etched in her memory; she never needed to refer to any recipe book or even check for the amount of ingredients. It was as if she knew each and everything about pickling, every nuance like the back of her hand. Perhaps years of making preserves and pickles gave that confidence to women of her generation.
Many from our generation find it convenient to pick a bottle of chutney or pickle straight from the shelves of a super market. I guess it has perhaps also to do with the fact that many women are now working full time and making pickles and preserves seems to be a time consuming exercise and definitely the last thing on their already busy mind. I really cherish the memory of my mother making pickles. How she would first pick and buy the raw and firm green mangoes and after bringing them home, give them a good wash. She would then wipe them clean to remove any moisture or dirt. The mangoes were then either diced or peeled & sliced,depending on what kind of pickle she was going to make. Next would be the spices that she would add without any measurement, of course. She would ‘weigh’ them with her hands and simply add them to the pickle and give everything a stir. The pickle would then be transferred to a sterilized jar and kept in the sun for a few days for the pickle to mature in the heat of the sun.
It appears to me that she actually enjoyed the whole process of making the food from scratch and pickles and homemade spices mixes were no different. She was never in a rush to finish off the task. It was as if she added along with the spices and condiments, her tremendous love as well; as if she felt that without the care and love, the task wasn’t worth doing. It is no wonder that her spice mixes and pickles were always in demand by friends and family. My maternal granny used to often joke that “your mother works with so much love and care with food, it appears as if she is afraid that she might hurt the veggies and fruits!”
Chhunda is the simplest of recipes and a wonderful accompaniment to a lot of things. All one needs to do is peel and shred the raw green mangoes, add sugar and spices, give everything a stir and keep it in the sun till the chhunda becomes syrupy. That’s it!
Do also give a try to this super easy, digestive and finger licking good Nimbu Chhundo (Pickled Lemon Chutney)
600 grams Shredded Green Mangoes (procured from 3 Rajapuri variety of raw green mangoes)
45 grams Salt
900 gms Sugar
52 gms chili powder (+ / – as per taste)
18 grams Cumin Powder
This is how it looked on the very first day of pickling (before addition of spices) .
Ripening it in sun and ageing leads to darkening of color of the chutney
In a non corrosive pot, transfer the shredded mangoes with salt. Using a wooden spoon or a spatula, vigorously mix the shredded mangoes till a good amount of water is released by the mangoes. Now add in the sugar and stir well till the sugar almost dissolves. Cover and keep aside for 12 – 24 hours. Stir in the chili powder and cumin powder.
Tie a muslin cloth over the chhunda vessel and keep it in the sun. Stir once or twice everyday. (After sun set, keep the vessel inside and to avoid crawling insects, keep the vessel in a tray of water) Continue with this process till the sugar syrup turns fairly thick. To check, drop a wee bit of syrup on a plate. If it does not run down the plate, the syrup is done.
To store the chhunda, transfer it in a sterilized jar. This preserve should keep for more than a year.
Note: Gujaratis prefer using Rajapuri variety of raw mangoes to make chhunda. I suggest you try getting your hands on it.
Note: The amount of sugar will depend on the sourness of the mangoes and personal preference for how sweet you like the chutney. The amount mentioned here is perfect for this variety of mango – it perfectly balances the sourness of the raw Rajapuri mangoes.
Try these easy peasy no cook chutneys too…