Have you had the pleasure of biting into an Indian hog plum? If you haven’t, I would suggest you try to get your hands on some as soon as you can. It is a wonderful thing, this hog plum – it will make your mouth pucker with its sourness and refresh your taste buds like very few other foods will. No wonder it lends itself beautifully to things like pickles, gojju or the South Indian version of a relish, chutney and the likes. Today, I am going to present to you the recipe for a very delicious Instant Indian Hog Plum Pickle.
For the uninitiated, the Indian hog plum is a fruit that becomes available in Karnataka, particularly the coastal regions of Udupi and Mangalore, towards the end of summer. I understand it is also available in parts of Goa and Maharashtra too. The fruit has the scientific name of Spondias Mombin, while it goes by various other local names (‘Amtekayi‘ in Kannada, ‘Ambade‘ in Tulu, ‘Amra Kai‘ in Tamil, ‘Ambazhanga‘ in Malayalam and ‘Adavi Mamidi‘ in Telugu). From a distance, Indian hog plums look similar to baby mangoes, with their glossy green skin and slightly elongated shape – it is for this reason that some people also refer to the fruit as ‘Wild Mango’. Some also call this fruit ‘Ambarella‘.
Taste-wise, the Indian hog plum is not unlike a raw mango – quite sour. However, unlike a raw mango, it has a crunchy texture to it. Hog plums can be tossed with some salt and chilli powder and eaten raw or, like I was saying earlier, be used in dishes like pickles, chutney and relishes. It can also be used as a souring agent in various dishes, in place of green mango or tamarind.
The fruit possesses a number of health benefits, too – it is rich in Vitamin A and C as well as iron. Consumption of the hog plum aids in improving eye health, at the same time aiding in keeping one’s skin and hair healthy. They help in preventing anaemia, and in keeping cold and cough at bay. They are good for regulating one’s body temperature, keeping bad cholesterol under check and in preventing ailments of the gums and teeth. They also aid in controlling indigestion and constipation, as well as alleviating loss of appetite and anorexia. The leaves and bark of the tree are also used in traditional Indian medicine, for the treatment of ailments like diarrhoea, inflammation, cystitis and stomach ache.
The last couple of summers, I have been pickling these hog plums, in the same style as my mother makes raw mango pickle. This is an instant pickle – one that is very simple to make and does not require much prior preparation – and can be used immediately. This Amtekayi Uppinkayi (Indian hog plum pickle, in Kannada) tastes supremely delicious, making for a lovely accompaniment to curd rice. You have to try this out, I say!
Here is how I made the Instant Indian Hog Plum Pickle:
Ingredients (makes about 1 cupful):
- 20 hog plums
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 4 tablespoons red chilli powder
- 1/2 tablespoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1/4 cup oil
- Wash the hog plums well under running water, making sure all traces of dirt on them are removed. Pat dry using a cotton cloth, and sun-dry for an hour or so. Ensure that the hog plums are completely dry before you use them in making the pickle.
- Remove the stems from the dried hog plums, and chop them into cubes. Keep aside, in a large mixing bowl.
- Grind together the rock salt, turmeric powder, fenugreek seeds, red chilli powder and mustard seeds in a small mixer jar. You can keep the powder as fine or as coarse as you prefer. Transfer this spice mix to the mixing bowl.
- Take the oil in a small pan and place it on high flame. When it gets nice and hot, switch off the gas. Pour the hot oil over the hog plum pieces in the mixing bowl.
- Immediately mix the pickle gently, using a clean, dry spoon.
- When the pickle has come to room temperature, transfer it to a clean, dry, air-tight bottle (preferably glass or steel).
- Allow the pickle to soak for a couple of days at room temperature, mixing it up about twice a day for all the hog plum pieces to get evenly coated in the pickling spices. Keep it in the refrigerator after that, to avoid spoiling.
- Buy tender, firm, unblemished hog plums for best results. It is easier to chop the fruits when tender, including the undeveloped seeds in them. The more mature ones tend to be fibrous, with fibrous seeds, and get difficult to chop and consume.
- There is no need to peel the hog plums before using them. Just chop them into cubes or into roundels and use them in making the pickle.
- If the hog plum seeds have started becoming fibrous, do remove and discard them before using in the pickle.
- I use rock salt (kallu uppu in Tamil) to make this pickle. You may use regular table salt instead, too.
- Sesame oil (nalla ennai in Tamil) is the best for making this Amtekayi Uppinkayi. It lends a beautiful fragrance and flavour to the pickle. However, in the absence of sesame oil, you may use any other oil of your preference.
- Adjust the quantities of salt, turmeric powder, asafoetida, fenugreek seeds, red chilli powder and mustard seeds you use, depending upon personal taste preferences. The above quantities work perfectly for us.
- Since we are making the Amtekayi Uppinkayi with limited salt and oil, it tends to spoil easily. I therefore keep it stored in the refrigerator, when not in use. When refrigerated and used hygienically, the pickle stays well for over a month.
- I prefer making this pickle in small quantities and consuming it quickly. You can make it in larger quantities too, but then you will need to be really careful about its storage and use.
- Use only a clean, dry, air-tight bottle (preferably steel or glass) to store the pickle. Use a clean, dry spoon only.
- This pickle can be consumed immediately after making it, but tastes best after the second day, when it has had some time to soak in the spices.
This post is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop group that I am part of. Every Monday, the members of this group present recipes based on a pre-determined theme.
The theme this week is #ItsPickleTime, suggested by Aruna who blogs at Vasu’s Veg Kitchen. Aruna has a lovely blog that includes some beautiful, traditional South Indian dishes.
For this week’s theme, all of us are sharing summer-special pickle recipes. I chose to showcase the Instant Indian Hog Plum Pickle that we have grown very fond of, in the last couple of years.
I’m also sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #276.