The recipe I present to you today, Amba Khatta, comes from Orissa, the land of Lord Jagannath. It is a beautiful sweet-and-sour relish made with raw mango, mildly spiced and flavoured with panch phoron.
This month, the members of the Shhhh Cooking Secretly group are presenting dishes from Orissa, and I chose to make Amba Khatta. I lucked out with the theme this month – I have an Odia help at my place, who was more than happy to tell me in detail about the cuisine of the place and share with me the way they made Amba Khatta at home. Yay to that!
The food of Orissa, I understand, is simple, but full of flavours. It bears a lot of similarities to food from the neighbouring state of Bengal – the plentiful usage of rice and mustard oil, the fondness for sweets, the use of panch phoron to spice food, the many relishes made from seasonal fruit (called ‘khatta‘). This Amba Khatta is a popular dish in Odia households, especially during the hot months of summer.
Amba Khatta is the Odia version of the South Indian Maangaai Pachadi, if I may put it that way, quite similar to the Aam Ki Launji from Rajasthan too. A super simple dish to prepare, it is packed with flavour and a delight to gorge on. This completely plant-based, vegan dish makes for a great accompaniment to rotis and/or steamed rice and can also be served as part of a thali or a big meal, including papad, salad and curries. If you simply omit the asafoetida used in this recipe, it becomes a completely gluten-free dish as well.
Now, let’s get to the recipe for the Amba Khatta, shall we?
Ingredients (serves 3-4):
- 1 medium-sized raw mango
- About 3/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
- 1 teaspoon panch phoron
- 2-3 dry red chillies
- 2 pinches of asafoetida
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- Red chilli powder to taste
- 4-5 tablespoons powdered jaggery or to taste
- 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
- Remove the stem from the raw mango, if any. Cut it up into large pieces, discarding the seed. Keep the raw mango pieces aside.
- Heat the oil in a pan. Add in the panch phoron, and allow it to stay in for a couple of seconds.
- Turn the flame to medium. Add in the dry red chillies (each broken into two), asafoetida and curry leaves. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds, taking care to ensure that they do not burn.
- Now, add the raw mango pieces to the pan, along with salt and red chilli powder as well as turmeric powder. Saute on medium flame for 1-2 minutes.
- Now add water to the pan, along with the jaggery powder. Cover and cook on medium flame for about 2 minutes. The mango should get cooked through, but not get overly mushy. Switch off gas at this stage.
- Mix in the roasted cumin powder.
- Serve the Amba Khatta hot or at room temperature with rice or as an accompaniment to a thali. If you don’t plan on serving the Amba Khatta immediately, allow it to cool completely, then store in a clean, dry, air-tight container.
- I have used a semi-raw totapuri mango (as shown in the picture above) to make this Amba Khatta. Totapuri mangoes aren’t very sour, so I didn’t have to use much jaggery. If you are using another, more sour version of raw mango, you might have to increase the quantity of jaggery you use.
- Adjust the quantity of water you use, depending upon how thick you want the Amba Khatta to be.
- I make the roasted cumin powder at home, though you can use a store-bought version. To make it, just dry roast some cumin in a pan till fragrant, taking care not to burn it, then allow it to cool down and powder coarsely. Store this in a clean, dry, air-tight container, and use as needed.
- Panch phoron is the Bengali five-spice mix that includes mustard, fenugreek, kalonji or onion seeds, cumin and fennel seeds. I use a store-bought version, but you can also make your own at home.
- Add the roasted cumin powder at the very end, after the dish has finished cooking and the gas has been switched off. This will help retain the fragrance of the cumin powder in the dish.
- Traditionally, mustard oil is used in this dish, which gives it a unique flavour and fragrance. However, since I did not have any mustard oil, I have used ordinary refined oil to make the Amba Khatta.
- I have not peeled the raw mango here – I just chopped it into large-ish pieces and used them to make the Amba Khatta. You may peel the mango if you so prefer.
- Stored in a clean, dry, air-tight container and refrigerated, the Amba Khatta stays well for up to a week.
Did you like the recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!
This recipe is for the Shhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge that I am part of. Every month, the members of this group get together to cook dishes from a particular region of India. This month, the place in question is Orissa.
I was paired with Renu of Cook With Renu for the challenge, who assigned me two secret ingredients – panch phoron and raw mango. Check out Renu’s space for many interesting traditional Indian dishes and some world cuisine recipes, as well as some lovely bakes. For this month’s Odia cooking challenge, I gave Renu the two secret ingredients of fenugreek and jaggery, and you have to see the gorgeous confection she has come up with using them!
I used the two assigned ingredients to prepare the Amba Khatta as above, with inputs from my house help.
I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #278.