Monday, June 09, 2014

Karmbi Nonche/Cut Raw Mango Pickle in Brine

This is the most basic raw mango pickle in any Mangalorean household prepared in summer and preserved for the rainy season. Yet, making this requires utmost care, as slight contamination or mixing of water droplets may cause fungus formation, thus spoiling the pickle.
Karmbi means raw mango chunks pickled in brine. Crunchiness of the karmbi depends on the right amount of salt added to boiling water to make the brine and right timing for soaking the mango chunks. Brine dehydrates and sterilises the raw mango chunks, making them more crunchy.

The ingredients used in the masala such as mustard seeds and turmeric powder also act as natural preservatives while complimenting to the sourness of the mango. Asafotoeda enhances the flavour and without any doubt, red chillies add to substance and hotness. A well balanced cut mango pickle in brine has a carefully selected and processed ingredients such as my mother used to do. She used to hand pick the spices and the local Parekal(Harekal) chilles, painstakingly dry them in the summer sun for at least a day, grind the masala on the manual grinding stone using dried plantain skin(Ponya) for accumulating the masala and traditionally using porcelain/ceramic clay jars(Bharnis) for storing the pickle. Those jars come with a ceramic or wooden screw cap lid and mother used to make them air tight by placing a cushion of clothes on the lids and tying a cloth around those cushions!

Scientific approach without studying a great deal of science. That's what my mother or many of the contemporaries possessed during our younger days! The salt content in those pickles used to be perfect, unlike commercial ones which are excessively salty.

During our 25 years of married life, we've made different kinds of instant pickles but never tried making this one, as mother always used to make that along with other goodies and pass on a generous portion for our consumption till she stopped working in the kitchen. Then for some time we used to buy this red pickle from Car Street where we get excellent commercially sold ones.

This Red pickle is a favourite with Konkani GSBs as accompaniment not only with rice and curry, rice and curd, chithranna, nuchchi or simple rice congi, but is also eaten with a drizzle of coconut oil along with rice semia, undis, idlis, khottige/moode, akki rotti and a variety of dosas.

We got fresh big sour fleshy raw mangoes from Kannur last week through Mahesh Baliga, a good friend of mine. We decided to make at least 4 different kinds of pickles this year as against two made last year. I thus ventured into the preparation of Karmbi Nonche/Cut Raw Mango Pickle in Brine. I found good Parekal chillies in a Car Street store and also purchased other ingredients. Except turmeric root, we've added all the other ingredients and made the pickle according to my mother's recipe. I used to sit by my late mother and watch her add the ingredients, process them and make the pickle. Sometimes I've helped her in grinding the masala or picking the ingredients. Hence I remember the right proportion of each ingredient for making exactly the same pickle as mother used to make!

Raw Mangoes(Very sour pulpy variety) - 4No.s or 1.5Kg(When chopped, you should get about 3 cups of 1/2 inch chunks.
Red short Chillies - 35-45(Depending on sourness of the mangoes or hotness of the chillies)
Red Long Chillies(Byadgi) - 12-15(1/3 no. of Red short chillies)
Mustard Seeds - 3-4 Tsp
Componded Asafotoeda(Hing) - 5-7 Gms(Or 3Tsp Hing powder)
Dried Turmeric root - 1" piece or 3/4 Tsp powder
Rock Salt - About 1/2 cup
Water - 500Ml

Dry the red chillies and mustard seeds in the sun for 2-3 hours.
Wash and wipe the mangoes dry with a clean cotton cloth.
Chop the mangoes into 1/2 inch chunks.
Boil water add rock salt and keep boiling for at least 10 mins so that the  brine is well sterile.
Decant or filter to remove the sediments.
Allow to cool at room temperature completely.
Add this brine to the cut mango and soak for 48 hours minimum at room temperature in an air tight plastic, glass or porcelain jar.
Karmbi or brined mango chunks are ready.
Decant the brine from the Karmbi and collect separately in a non metallic bowl.
Powder the red chillies along with mustard seeds in a mill.
Grind with turmeric and hing to a fine paste adding little by little brine from the soaked mango pieces(Karmbi).
Add this masala paste to the karmbi and mix well.
If you desire, you may add more brine and dilute the pickle but we prefer the sauce to be thick, so that it will be perfect after 48 hours when karmbi discharges more brine.


Ways to preserve this pickle:
This pickle is well preserved in a dry air tight glass jar stored in a cool dry place for months.
Better store this in smaller jars/bottles and use one after the other during monsoon months.
You may apply coconut oil on a sheet of dry polythene paper and seal the bottle by placing this sheet beneath the lid.
You may also keep the bottles in the fridge but frequent variation in temperature changes the taste of the pickle and texture of the karmbi.

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