This pickle, or acar as we like to call it in Malaysia, is inspired by Makmah’s famous Mango Pickle. It is sweet (from the mangoes), salty, spicy and sour all at the same time.
Recently for the month of Ramadan, Makmah’s mango pickle “Acar Mangga” has been for sale at certain Ramadan Bazaar’s around Ampang. My entrepreneurial cousin, Saiful (who is also a superb photographer – check him out at here at Senseless Art Photography) convinced Makmah to part with the recipe and sell this wonderful acar for the world to consume and enjoy.
I managed to eat a bit (pffft, I lie. I ate A LOT) of the acar when I was in Kuala Lumpur recently, and quite keen to make this when I return to Athens.
It is quite difficult, of course – I cannot find the type of mangoes that Makmah uses. I found unripe mangoes from Lidl, and decided to use these South American mangoes. Please look for unripe mangoes – and if you can find the Asian varieties (and willing to pay a lot), please do try it with those mangoes. I peeled off the skin, and cut the mangoes into cubes. You can leave the skin on if you want, but I wasn’t too keen on the skin (chemicals and etc,) in the dish.
It didn’t turn out as nice as Makmah’s Acar Mangga, but I could see that it could get there – with the right amount of spices and the proper mango. This pickle recipe below goes really well with the other dish that I made the same day – Chicken Liver Curry. I used quite a lot of fresh curry leaves, and I have to say, I need to find out how to grow the curry leaf plant on my balcony.
This recipe also uses an ingredient that you might find from your Asian produce store – Candlenuts. It is quite hard to find and if you can find it, lucky you! It is known as ‘Buah Keras’ in Malay (meaning hard fruit). It is used mainly as a thickener, and it looks like macadamia nuts (but tastes much more bitter than macadamias) and a lot of Nyonya Peranakan dishes use Candlenuts, like Kapitan Chicken Curry (coming soon!). You can replace these with macadamia nuts, if you cannot find candlenuts.
I will have to correctly state that this is an ‘inspired-by’ recipe and not exactly Makmah’s recipe. I used less garam masala powder (and not too much chilli powder too). I vaguely remembered what she told me what is needed for the recipe, and this is compiled by bits and pieces of what I remember. I do hope you’ll enjoy this version of Mango Pickles. It can be eaten with other curries, with rice and/or chapatti.
- 1 unripe mango, cubed.
- 3-4 tbsps of salt
- 1 tsp of panch phoron spice mix
- 1/4 tsp of mustard seeds
- 1 -2 tsps of garam masala
- 1 tsp of chilli powder (use more if you want it spicier)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 candlenuts (alternatively, macadamia nuts)
- 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
- 7-10 pieces of curry leaves
- 2 tbsps of olive oil, plus a bit more extra for later.
- 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
- juice from 1 lime
- Start with the mango: In a bowl, add the salt to the mango, and mix well. Leave to ‘pickle’ for a few hours. I left it for just a bit more than an hour. Once you are ready to start making the pickle, squeeze the liquid away from the mango separating them into separate bowls and set both aside.
- Pound the garlic, ginger and candlenuts together into a paste in a pestle and mortar. You can alternatively use a blender, but try not to overblend.
- Heat up a frying pan on medium heat. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil.
- Fry the heaped teaspoon of panch phoron spice mix and the mustard seeds until it starts popping.
- Add the garlic, ginger and candlenuts paste, and fry until fragrant.
- Add the garam masala and chilli powder. Fry for a few minutes more, then add the curry leaves.
- Once the curry leaves have started to crisp up, add the mangoes and stir.
- Add 1 tbsp of olive oil, and continue to cook until the mangoes start to soften.
- Add the vinegar and 1 tsp of the salty mango liquid from (1) and continue to cook. Taste to make sure that there is enough salt. If it isn’t, add more from the salty mango liquid (I used it all.)
- Once the mango has softened, take it off the heat, and stir in the lime juice.
- Let it cool. It is now ready to eat, or store.
- If you are storing it in a jar, cover the top with a little bit of olive oil.
- Serve it with some rice and curry. I thoroughly enjoyed this pickle by the side with lightly spiced grilled chicken.