“Meeeru Kotha Avakaya Pettukunnara Ee Saari?” (Have you prepared the new mango pickle this time)
If you hail from Andhra, this is the common question asked by your loved ones and neighbors every summer. Kotha Avakaya (new pickle) or Andhra Mango Pickle is not just a hot spicy delight that goes well with rice and ghee. It is the symbol of Andhra household, upbringing, memories and traditions.
Avakayi holds a special place in our hearts, making us turn into those wayward and unassuming children who had a whale of summer holidays before the mundane school opened to our gloom.
Here are Five Important Reasons Why Kotha Avakai feels nothing less than Ammamma’s (grandmother’s) love!
1. Memories of old home’s kitchen
If you have lived in a joint family while a child, your brain will easily correlate the smell of the new mango pickle with old memories of the kitchen filled with grand mom’s cooking. That’s a given. Your brain will instantly visualize the hustle and bustle, with your mom, aunts and grand mom whipping up tasty home cooked delights.
2. Smell of your Grandma’s Saree Pallu
Yeah, this happened with me like a million times. Every time i opened a can of new mango pickle made by my mom, i would instantly smell the saree pallu of my granny. It so just happens that despite the preparation being passed down from the generations, you feel this instant Deja Vu of holding your granny’s pallu and walking around in shorts and frocks.
3. Instant tune of a MayaBazaar song, Perhaps!!
Dig this. Time has passed by, but the recipe stirs up the dormant grey cells that are filled with old radio tunes, gramophone records and grandma humming some of them. It could be a tune from an old Telugu classic like Mayabazaar, a random Carnatic vocal, a strum of Veena by the great Chitti Babu. En Core!!
4. Pickle, You Shrunk The Kid..
You may be over forty years old, but the smell of Kotha Avakayi shrinks you to the size of a 11 year old. The aroma and taste, the whole rendition as such, makes you feel like a child from the heart. Avakayi has that effect on our minds, especially if we grew up smelling and gorging on it for infinite summers.
5. The old grandma’s stern voice, echoed!!
Remember making that silly little mistake as a child, trying to steal a little bit of mango pickle from the good old jaadi, slipping away to wash and eat the cut mango beneath. You would have foiled the perfectly laid out plan of your granny to marinate a rich pickle by fiddling with it. She would have reprimanded you, even slightly so. And that would echo in your sub conscious.
These and many more, there is no way you can escape the sweet nostalgia associated with Kotha Avakai.
And now, for a quick recipe!!
Kotha Avakaya aka Andhra Mango Pickle Recipe
6 to 8 sour raw mangoes
Salt – 1 glass or 1 cup
Red Chilli Powder – 1 1/2 glass or cup
Mustard Seeds Powder – 1 1/2 glass or cup
Sesame Seed Oil – 1 1/2 glass or cup
Mix Salt with Chilli and Mustard seeds powder. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after, as the chilli in your hands can blow up the whole world later!
Cut and clean the mango pieces
Add oil to the mixture gradually and slowly as you mix.
Add the cut mango pieces. Make sure they have been dried of any water on them as this affects the marination
Taste the gravy to check the levels of salt and spice
Add Garlic pods if you like it that way
If you want more spice, this is the only time to add that extra chilli powder. Later would be too late.
If you think you have added extra salt, there is nothing you can do about it now as salt gets absorbed quickly and no adjustments are possible. Make sure of your measure right during the beginning stages.
Pour about 5 to 6 spoons of oil in the vessel or jaadi where you are about to store the pickle. Add the mixture on top of this oil content.
Ensure that the lid is tightly secured before storing
Let the mixture sit for an hour and then stir it one more time
Caution – Do not use spoons that contain water droplets as this will ruin the pickle in totality.
Let the mixture marinate well into a pickle for good four hours before you start tasting the Kotha Avakai.