At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015


My apartment mate has developed an affection for mangoes. Nearly everyday for the past two weeks she has been indulging in her passion, openly and rather brazenly sucking up the lush sweet tender fruit and pulpy bits, slurping the juice. This is disturbing to me, because while ripe mangoes are perfectly fine in their own way, the wise man knows that the best use for mango is to pickle it when green.

Andhra-style mango pickle

For each cup of chunked hard green mango, use four TBS hottest chili powder, four TBS fresh ground black mustard seed powder, and four TBS non-iodized salt. Plus one Tsp. fenugreek seeds.

Wash and wipe the mango pieces with a dry sterilized cloth. Remove the inner part of the pit and its membrane thoroughly by scraping it out with a spoon or knife. Be rigorous, as its inclusion in your pickle encourages spoilage. Put the prepared pieces in a large ceramic bowl.
Mix the chili powder, mustard seed powder, and salt. Coat the mango pieces well with this, rubbing it on and in so that the salt and flavour will penetrate. Mix in the fenugreek seeds, and six tablespoons of oil.
Turn with a clean scooper to mix well, ladle into a sterilize jar, and pour the remaining oil from bowl into the jar. Let it stand, loosely covered, for three to five days. When it is 'done', the oil should float on top.
It can keep for a very long time, but as there will be hard green mangoes again next year, that usually won't happen.

Note: to perfectly prepare the mustard seeds before grinding, spread them on a plate and microwave them for thirty six seconds. They will be warm to the touch, and will exude oil when ground in a mortar.
The mortar, of course, should be sterilized before use.

The best oil for pickles is pale sesame (gingelly) oil.
Which, you know, is NOT the Chinese product.
But any clean high quality oil will do.

Adding half a teaspoon of turmeric promotes keepability.

Enjoy it with a rice dinner.

Mango is 'mamidikaya'. One can also make avakaya with many other vegetables, such as cucumber or cauliflower. But by far most avakaya is mango, so the term is commonly understood to mean a mamidikaya pickle.
Many people add garlic cloves when making this, but I do not trust garlic in oil pickles; they lose bite and eventually taste peculiar.


While wandering around Chinatown yesterday I spotted some beautiful yellow pigs' kidney mangoes (豬腰芒 'chyu yiu mong'), which are small, approximately the size of a hen's egg. One doesn't often find such.
I would have certainly bought them if they were green.
I woke up dreaming of mango pickle.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


  • At 8:56 AM, Anonymous e-kvetcher said…

    I just bought some Bhut Jolokia ghost peppers for my Telugu coworker. For some reason they're selling them in the little market next in my neighborhood but he can't find them where he lives.

    And off topic - in case you ever wondered about Chinese chemistry.

  • At 9:03 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    Unlike several of the commenters on that elemental post, I fail to understand why it seems so complicated. One person brought up the names for fish, to which often the word fish is appended, and said that therefore the characters themselves were redundant. An odd concept, when you consider that in English we use different spellings to distinguish the words when the context will clarify what is meant. To two too. I added tu tu his pile tu.

    It seems quite clear and logical.

    There are in fact several lists of words where the key difference between the words in list A and those in list B are pronounced exactly the same, if they're EVER used in speech (hence the tendency to add 'fish' or 'tree' after saying them), but the radical ('fish', or 'tree', or 'rain) make perfectly clear what is meant, and hence the abbreviation in writing is concisely monographemic.

  • At 7:43 AM, Blogger panjandrum said…

    Only half relevant to this post: one of my fundamental failsafe principles is that mango chutney goes with.....almost anything actually. And it can give tired regulars a new lease on palate.

  • At 8:13 AM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    Half relevant, yes. But one hundred percent correct.

    The wise bachelor relies on mango chutney.


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