The language used in the label is ‘Telugu’, the main language spoken in the south Indian state I was born in which was recently cut up into two states thanks to greed, conflict and war. I was taught to write in this language since I was 10 and I was a reluctant learner. I don’t do justice to the language when I speak it but I understand it very well. I consider the state my birth place and it saddens me terribly to see it torn up.
I’ve mentioned this state because it is known for its pickles. Pickles made from vegetables, fruit and meat, pickles made to be eaten right away and ones made to last for years, pickles that are enough to make a meal and pickles that make a necessary side dish.
Summer is slowly but surely creeping up on us and Summer back home meant mangoes and mangoes meant pickles. Sunday is the day when families go shopping for the best raw mangoes - the shrill of the market vendors calling out to you, giving you a better deal, handing out a piece to taste. The sourer it is, the harder it is the better. As we kids hang around, our parents/grandparents/relatives fill up bags full of raw mangoes and head over to the next step of the pickle making process.
A bunch of people sit with a huge board and a vicious looking knife, chopping off at mangoes and trying to get business at the same time. After bargaining amidst customers yelling about how they wanted the pieces cut, we wait our turn and count away at the mangoes making sure the number is right.
Then we get onto the Vespa, snuggled between Grandpa and whoever else decides to make it to the market and reach home but not before you pocket a few pieces of cut raw mango to chew on. On reaching home the mango pieces would be washed and laid out on cotton cloth under the sun under watchful eyes lest drooling mouths wander to steal a few pieces.
The actual pickling process itself was almost sacred. The kitchen would be sterilized, the utensils cleaned and dried, each ingredient measured and most importantly all kids shooed away. Once done, large bharanis are used to store pickles and they are stowed away on attics where they rest for two weeks after which they are brought down and mixed and returned for resting.
Only a month after the actual pickling process are we allowed to taste it and the tasting day is one I wish I could relive. All the kids in the house would gather around Grandma and she would have a huge steel place filled with piping hot steamed sona masoori rice. A generous dollop of ghee in the center and a side of the pickle - the green skin of the mango standing out against the red chilli oil. Our granny would mix it all up(all the time blowing to avoid scalding her fingers) and make balls - a size too big for our mouths but just right to hold in our cupped hands. And we would each devour them till we were over-satiated, eyes streaming, ears smoking and tummies bulging.
Summer time is the best time ever!
P.S: I’ve never seen the actual process of mango pickling from up close and so I am still very intimidated by it.
P.S.S: The picture included in this post is NOT Mango. It reads ‘Tomato Roti Pacchadi’ so its a tomato pickle.
I have a single picture for this simply because it was so good. period. It was devoured in less than a week!
I am a supporter of reusing and recycling whenever possible. The bottle you see in this image has been reused. And in all probability will be reused again.