Come mango season, and I can’t NOT think about Chhundo. Summers, for me, are incomplete without the making of Chhundo at home. This year, considering the lockdown situation, there was all the time in the world to make a batch. It’s all done, dusted, and bottled up! In today’s post, I am going to share with you all an easy method of making Chhundo.
What is Chhundo?
Chhundo – always ‘Chhundo’, never ‘Chhunda‘ – is a type of Gujarati relish made using raw mango and sugar. It is a sweet pickle, with a hint of spice to it. And it is a gorgeous, gorgeous thing! No wonder it is so very popular!
It goes beautifully with rotis, parathas, thepla, dhebra, farsi pooris and several other Gujarati snacks. You will usually find Gujarati families making this in bulk in the summer, when raw mangoes are at their best, storing it in big porcelain jars and using it right through the year till the summer arrives again. Yes, the Chhundo has a great shelf life.
Chhundo is great to pack in school and office lunch boxes, and makes for a great lunch travel companion, too. What’s more, it’s not a very difficult thing to prepare either.
The traditional method vs. the instant version
The Chhundo is traditionally prepared in a very interesting way. Raw mango is grated into a large vessel, then mixed with sugar. Once the mango releases water and the sugar is dissolved, the vessel is placed in the sunlight, with a clean cotton cloth tied over the top. Every evening, the cloth is untied and the mango mixture is stirred. The cloth covering then goes back on, and the vessel goes back to the sunlight the next morning. In 2-3 days, the sugar ‘cooks’ to a syrupy consistency in the sunlight. In about a week’s time, the syrup thickens further – all in the sunlight – and gets ready to store for an entire year.
Now, if you don’t have a constant stream of good sunlight or don’t want to do the whole shebang, there’s the instant version of making the Chhundo. Here, the mango and sugar mixture is cooked on the gas, and the Chhundo is ready in just about 20 minutes. It is this Instant Chhundo recipe that I’m about to share with you all today.
How to make Instant Chhundo
The detailed recipe follows. This is a completely vegetarian, vegan (plant-based) and gluten-free preparation.
Ingredients (yields about 1-1/4 kg):
- 1 kg raw mango, about 4 cups when grated
- 3-1/2 cups sugar or as per taste
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon red chilli powder or to taste
1. Peel the raw mango. Grate it thick. Collect the grated raw mango in a large, heavy-bottomed pan.
2. Add the salt, turmeric powder and sugar to the grated raw mango.
3. Mix the raw mango, salt and sugar well using your hands. Leave aside for 15-20 minutes.
4. After 15-20 minutes, the mango would have released a lot of water and all the sugar would have gotten dissolved. Place the pan on high heat at this stage.
5. Once the pan heats up, turn the flame down to medium. This should take 3-4 minutes. Stir intermittently. The mixture will be quite watery at this stage.
6. Continue to cook on medium flame, stirring intermittently. The mixture will start to thicken in 5-7 minutes, then keep an eye on it. Keep checking the consistency of the sugar syrup. Once it reaches a ‘sticky’ or half-thread consistency, switch off the gas immediately. Check out the video below to get an idea of what ‘sticky’ or half-thread consistency is.
7. Mix in the roasted cumin powder and red chilli powder, after the gas is switched off. Your Instant Chhundo is ready. Let it rest, covered, for 2-3 hours or till it cools down completely. Then, fill into a clean, dry, air-tight bottle and store.
Tips & Tricks
1. You can use any variety of raw mango you prefer. Raw mango that is not overly sour is preferred. Traditionally, a Gujarati variety of mango called Rajapuri is preferred. Since that is not available here, I use the Totapuri variety, which works equally well.
2. Grate the raw mango thick. If you grate it too fine, the mango will not be visible in the Chhundo at all.
3. You may skip the salt completely if you so prefer, or add in a bit more. It completely depends on your taste preferences.
4. Adjust the quantity of sugar you use depending upon how sour the mango is. For about 4 cups of grated raw mango, 3-1/2 cups sugar worked perfectly for us. You may need to use more sugar if the raw mango you have is very sour.
5. You can use jaggery instead of sugar too, or use a mix of jaggery and sugar. I prefer using all sugar.
6. Make sure you keep a keen eye on the sugar syrup. Once the mixture starts thickening, it does so at great speed. If cooked beyond the half-string or ‘sticky’ consistency shown in the video, the Chhundo might get too thick. Ensure that you don’t cook beyond this point.
7. Ensure that the Chhundo is cooked on medium flame. Use a heavy-bottomed pan only.
8. Adjust the quantity of red chilli powder and roasted cumin powder as per personal taste preferences.
9. Allow the Chhundo to cool down fully before bottling it. When refrigerated and used hygienically, it stays well for over a year. I just finished the lot I made last summer!
10. The Chhundo thickens up quite a bit upon cooling, so don’t worry if it looks a tad liquidy when you have stopped cooking.
11. Cinnamon, star anise and cloves are sometimes added (often whole, sometimes coarsely crushed) to the Chhundo, to stop it from getting overly sweet. I usually don’t add these whole spices – you may if you want to.
12. To make roasted cumin powder, I dry roast 2-3 tablespoons of cumin on medium flame in a pan, till fragrant. I then allow this to cool down fully, then coarsely crush it in a small mixer jar. I store this in a clean, dry, air-tight bottle and use as needed.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!