‘Pickling’ dates back to thousands of years in India and this ancient process also has a very eminent position in Maharashtrian cuisine. Though various pickles are made all over India, Maharashtra takes the premier position for a variety of mango preserves.
In recent times, advanced preservation systems provide us frozen mangoes, pulps or even hybrid mangoes at an instance. However, in absence of refrigeration, preserves like pickles (lonche), chatni, sweet jams (moramba, chunda, sakharamba) were one of the best ways to do so. However, pickle making has continued to be an annual household activity.
The preservation is primarily done by adding high quantities of oil and salt. However the sweet ones are preserved using sugar syrup and sometimes by maturing in the hot sun. Though winter is more appropriate time for pickling, seasonality of mangoes makes it a summer activity too. These preserves are normally stored in stoneware airtight jars in kitchen stores and small quantities are dispensed as and when required. It is very important to avoid any kind of water contamination especially wet spoons to prevent spoilage. As with other traditional products even this activity is receding due to busy lifestyles and availability of ready pickles in the market. Even with expert commercialization trying to match homemade tastes, one has to accept that the grandmother’s recipe is always a welcome treat. By adopting certain convenient changes like ready pickle masalas, one can always try a hand at it and preserve some ‘Pickle’.
When you visit Maharashtra, stop by a grocery store and pick up a ‘pickle masala’. Simply follow the instructions on the packet to make your family a wonderful, traditional and authentic Maharashtrian pickle.
Kairi lonche, made with raw mangoes, is one of the most popular and common preserve made during summers, in almost every Maharashtrian house hold. A tangy pickle with a particular taste, a few decades back the masala used for marinating was prepared at home. However it’s now common to use the packaged masala available in the markets under different brand names. As required for preservation, the quantity of oil added is high. A variation called taje kairi lonche (fresh mango pickle) is also made using minimum oil and is consumed fresh. Kairi lonche forms a very integral part of any traditional meal in Maharashtra.
Ripe Mango Moreamba or Sakharambaiscertainly a delicacy in itself, it is the closest way of relishing and storing mangoes for a prolonged period even after the season is over. Since it is made with alphonso mangoes, it satisfies the urge of the now addicted mango taste buds. Closely associated with mango jam it’s a quick fix served with the chapati (Maharashtrian wheat bread) in absence of vegetable or curry preparation or even a sweet dish.