Last Saturday, after teaching all day, I was dead tired but I was bent on making this Indian mango pickle. I’d purchased the two green (unripe) mangoes at an Asian market on Thursday and feared them ripening sooner than later. Mango can ripen quickly and you can’t really tell by the green skin and hard texture. Something is happening inside.
I had to do something with them, lest I waste the relatively rare specimens. Unless you’re in tropical Asia or other mango-laden area where there maybe a nearby mango tree or mango vendor, rock hard, green mangoes are hard to find. In the U.S., we mostly want ones that are on their way to sweet, soft ripeness. At Asian markets, green mangoes usually cost more than ripe ones. On Thursday, the cashier and I laughed about the premium paid for unripe, sour fruit.
My goal was to make a mango pickle from Saveur magazine’s India issue. I tried the Kashmiri lamb with chile sauce and that was a hit. How would this simple, quick pickle turn out? Cookbook author Smita Chandra wrote lovingly about her mother’s homemade pickles and that reminded me of my mom’s pickling prowess. I was smitten, especially with the use of cinnamon/cassia, cloves, cardamom and other spices.