Of summer holidays - Mango Relish
One of our first visits would be to our orchard, a magical sight for a kid. Trees and trees laden with the fruit in vibrant shades of green. My grandfather who had an innate instinct about such things would decide which fruits were ready to be picked. These mangoes were brought home and left to ripen in peace and quiet. After a long wait (or so it seemed) they were served in all their golden glory, plump, juicy and begging to be eaten. And eat we did!
Many households in the Konkan region have their own mango orchards or at least a couple of mango trees in their backyard. So the women of the house have a huge repertoire of recipes using this fruit. The raw green mango is used in beverages, chutneys, spice blends or as a souring agent in curries, the ripe one in desserts, jams and relishes.
The first batch of juicy fruit is eaten sliced. No frills required, this is the king of fruit after all. By the second or third week everyone begins to hanker for a change, so in comes a very popular dessert - mango juice flavored with cardamom (aam ras) and served with hot puris. After this mangoes are used to make breakfast or teatime treats - mango burfies, pancakes (ambapoli) and jam (muramba).
When the sweetness has gotten overwhelming for even a staunch mango lover, a spicy relish is introduced in the meal - the amba sasam. It is a sweet, sour and spicy combination that serves as a side to a rice- curry meal and is eaten by all in thankful relief! To up the tartness quotient, pineapple cubes are added in one version. This is called the Ananas Amba Sasam.
Sasam gets its name from the mustard seeds (sasam in Konkani) that are used liberally in the masala.
ANANAS AMBA SASAm (Pineapple Mango Relish)
1 small ripe mango
1 cup pineapple cubes
1 green chilli chopped fine
1 teaspoon jaggery
salt to taste
Grind to a coarse paste -
3-4 tbsp coconut, grated
1-2 dry red chillies
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
For tempering (optional) -
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
Peel mango and slice it. Combine with pineapple cubes and green chilli in a bowl. Add salt and jaggery to taste. Mix with your hands, mashing the fruits as you do this.
Grind coconut and red chilli to a coarse paste using very little water. Add mustard seeds and pulse for a minute. Mix this paste with the fruits. I like to add a tempering of mustard seeds. Serve cold as a side with rice and curry.
* Alternatively you can simmer the relish over low heat (do not boil) and serve it warm
* Sasam keeps for 2 to 3 days at the most; use leftovers as a topping on sandwiches or salads
* Sasam can be made with mangalore cucumber (magge), ashgourd, beetroot, cucumber or any other fruit