5 Ingredients or Fewer

Pickled Baby mangoes in a chile mustard sauce (vadu Mangai)

May 10, 2012
1 Ratings
  • Makes 100 mangoes & 3 cups of sauce
Author Notes

To be frank, I'm better off sending a sample of this classic South Indian Pickle to Food52 in lieu of posting the recipe for the contest.
It was a stroke of blue moon (super moon??) luck that I stumbled upon these beauties at my local grocery. Promptly got into a hyper selfish mode the first time I saw these tiny mangoes and bought all that I could, A week later they had fresh stock, after buying up 2 lbs more, I posted the location of the store on my Blog, only to have a gaggle of senior South Indian ladies make a beeline for the mangoes (& to think the cashier gave me a strange look when ringing me up!)
During the mango season in India, only the strongest fruits make it to a ripe stage from the cluster of 100s that bud out from the inflorescence. The rest of the baby fruits drop off at the first strong breeze. the best of these (i.e the unbruised ones ) are washed , dried, rubbed with sesame oil and then packed in salt. A week later the wrinkled fruits swim around in a brine generated by the liquid from the mangoes itself. The brine is then blended with toasted chile powder & crushed mustard to make a thick spicy sauce The mangoes are then added back. A few weeks of rest, and the end result is a delicious crunchy baby mango pickle and an equally delicious sauce that kicks up just about everything a couple of notches!
Although this is a classic recipe made in countless South Indian homes, I adapted this from Ammini Ramachandran's book 'grains greens and grated coconut' for the proportions and digressed to follow the technique that I learned from my mother. —Panfusine

What You'll Need
  • 100 baby mangoes about 3/4 - 1 inch long
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 2 cups arbol chiles toasted and powdered
  • 1 cup black mustard seeds, crushed
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons untoasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder (optional)
  1. Sterilize a glass jar with an airtight lid and completely dry. Wash & dry the baby mangoes. I like to submerge the produce in lukewarm water to which I add some vinegar. This takes care of any stray mold spores. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil & shake well so that the oil coats the mangoes. Add the salt and turmeric powder & shake so that the salt sticks to the oiled skin) snap the jar shut with the lid . hake the container a couple of time each day for about 2 weeks. The baby mangoes release their moisture and this combines with the salt to create its own flavored brine.
  2. At the end of about 2 weeks, there will be sufficient brine to incorporate into a spicy sauce that the mango will be preserved in. Drain off the brine into a blender jar. Combine the toasted arbol chile powder and the mustard powders and blend into an emulsion.
  3. Pour this sauce back onto the mangoes, taking care to coat the semi pickled mangoes entirely.Transfer the mangoes and the sauce into a dry sterilized glass jar. Pour the sesame oil to form a layer over the surface. Seal, and try to forget about it for at least a month, so that the mangoes can complete the pickling process in peace.
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  • BoulderGalinTokyo
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    Devangi Raval
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  • Panfusine
A biomedical engineer/ neuroscientist by training, currently a mommy blogger on a quest for all things food - Indian Palate, Global perspective!

9 Reviews

Tarragon May 16, 2012
And I was wondering what to do with the mangoes that fall off my tree before maturity! I have a small tree and wold not to get nearly as many unripe mangoes, but I look forward to making a mini version of this recipe. Thank you so much!
Panfusine May 17, 2012
wow, you're lucky, you actually have a mango tree?? AWESOME!
BoulderGalinTokyo May 16, 2012
These look absolutely wonderful! I have no idea where to get the mangos though.... Maybe a fig?? Your pictures really have me drooling for a taste!
Panfusine May 16, 2012
Thanks Bouldergalintokyo!
The season for these tiny mangoes is extremely fleeting. I posted this recipe more for sharing a classic , since I happened to find these mangoes, that can never be used for anything else and the temptation of reliving & making a childhood traditional favorite the better of me. There are commercial brands available at many Indian grocery stores, which unfortunately are the ones I normally resort to in the absence of the real thing.
Figs wont work, the secret ingredient for the flavor is the brine which is created by the water within the mango itself (with the flavors released, ), most commercial brands simply use regular brine to shorten the time it takes to get ready.. I plan to try with olives though. will keep you posted..
BoulderGalinTokyo May 16, 2012
Let me know if olives work. I'm interested, mustard seeds and chilies sounds great.
Devangi R. May 10, 2012
look at those cuties...lolz...my mouth watering...we use to pick these a lot from a temple where they would fall off the tree. And, the priest would run behind us..and we never got caught...are these available in stores..yay!
Panfusine May 10, 2012
They were, at my nearest local Indian grocery in Franklin, NJ
creamtea May 10, 2012
Oh yum, if only I could find these...
Panfusine May 10, 2012
this was the first time that I spotted these myself, in 16 yrs in the US of A