Have you ever tasted the mixture of hot rice, ghee and a spicy south Indian mixed lemon pickle? This is one of my most favorite combinations of rice, other than rice with Menthyada Hittu( A post for another day) or rice with Chutney Pudi( Another post) or Thokku( Aah, thats special)…and I could probably go on. I need to sit back and decide what exactly is my favorite combination, I guess.
But the point I was trying to make was that we South Indians take our ‘Pickling’ and ‘preserving’ very seriously. Indians in general, that too. There are so many fruits and vegetables indigenous to that particular part of India, that is pickled and is a specialty of that state or region. One of the regional fruits, that I am not sure how popular it is in Northern India, is the “Hog Plum” or “Amatekaayi” as it is called in Kannada. The Pickle of this fruit is very popular in Karnataka and the coastal regions of Konkan and Goa. What I had thought was a rare special fruit, that is available only in India, surprisingly is not that uncommon around the world. I was surprised finding it here at a local India Grocery. Here it was called the “June Plum”. I got really excited and got home a few and had to try pickling them getting the recipe from my Mother.
So after some research online, it turned out that the ‘June plum’ and ‘Hog plum’ are actually cousins. They come from the same family- Anacardiaceae. The June plum is used extensively in Caribbean cuisine. The June plum is a bit larger than the Hog plum, and even though it looked bigger it was very tender. The Indian Hog plums become fibrous when they are mature. The taste of the fruit resembles an unripe, sour mango, so it can be used not only for pickles, but also in chutneys, thokku, etc.
To make the pickle( This is the recipe followed by my Mother and my Aunts):
- June plums or Hog Plums- around 20 tender ones, washed, dried and cut
- Salt- 1/2 Cup
- Red Chilies- around 15 Byadgi
- Turmeric Powder- 2 Tsp
- Mustard Seeds- 1 TBSP
- Fenugreek Seeds- 1 Tsp, roasted
- Asafoetida- 1/4 Tsp
For the Tempering-
- Oil- 2 TBSP
- Mustard seeds- 1 Tsp
- Asafoetida- 1/8 Tsp
Wash, dry thoroughly and cut the June plums, lengthwise into 4 pieces. Mix in the salt and store in an airtight glass container for a couple of days. Stir the mixture with a clean dry spoon every day. The water from the fruit starts separating after a couple of days. To make the pickling mixture, heat 1 cup of water till it comes to a rolling boil. Turn off the hear and soak the red chilies in the water. Let the water cool completely to room temperature for a few hours. When the water is cool, in a clean mixer, grind to a paste- the red chilies, roasted fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, turmeric and asafetida. You can use the salt water separated from the June plums also, to grind. The paste can be made as thick as needed, so it is not necessary to use all the water that was used for soaking the Chilies. Mix the Red Chili paste with the preserved June plums. Make a tempering, by heating the oil and adding the mustard seeds and asafetida. When the mustard seeds start spluttering, add the oil to the pickle and mix thoroughly. Refrigeration keeps the pickle fresh, longer.