|Place of origin||South India|
|Region or state||Andhra Pradesh/Tamil Nadu|
|Main ingredients||Mango, aavalu (powdered mustard), powdered red chilli, salt and oil|
Aavakaaya (Telugu: ఆవకాయ) is a variety of Indian pickle extremely popular in South India with its origin in Andhra Pradesh, the Telugu speaking state. The main ingredients are mangoes and aavalu (powdered mustard) and a combination of other spices used for pickling. South Indians are known to have a deep attachment with these spicy pickles. A wide range of varieties of pickles are made available in these regions, using mango as their prime ingredient. Besides making these pickles at home, these pickles are also available commercially and are also exported to the United States, Europe and Japan and many other countries.
Most pickles are made in the summer as this is the peak time for availability of raw mangoes. Raw mangoes, hot oil, chillies and a variety of spices are key ingredients.The process of preparation,storage and serving of these pickles is almost considered to be a ritual.
The mangoes are cut into medium sized pieces approximately 2cm x 2cm using strong and ultra sharp cutters/knives in swift strokes so as not to structurally damage the pieces. These pieces are wiped clean and dry with a well absorbing soft cloth — usually an old sterilized cotton sari with no embroidery, stowed away for this purpose. They are then pickled with powdered mustard seeds, red chilli powder (dried and powdered or sometimes dried, roasted and powdered), salt, Gingelly Oil and fenugreek (both in whole and powder form). Garlic is optional. The mixture matures for four to eight weeks, care taken to periodically mix the content to ensure a uniform marinade.
The Telugu people have a legendary affection and/or attachment for Aavakaaya, so much so, there is a risk that Andhra culture may be thought to be incomplete without aavakaaya, which is immortalized by this famous adage in Telugu: When Telugus are faced with the seemingly impossible challenge of choosing between "Ambrosia (amritam)" and "aavakaaya", popular wisdom has it that they would always choose aavakaaya over amritam.
A note on the secret recipe for the best Aavakaaya in the whole world/universe. Jiddu Krishnamurti used to say, "There is only one most beautiful baby, every mother has it". Every Telugu granny has it (the recipe).
This pickle is very popular in South India, especially in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
There are a wide variety of Mango pickles, these include:
- Aavakaaya (The default one made with mustard seeds powder)
- Allam Aavakaaya (A spicy variety including ginger-garlic paste)
- Bellam Aavakaaya (A sweet variant of Avakaya made with jaggery)
- Dosa Aavakaya (Mango replaced with a type of dosakaya (cucumber)
- Maagaya (Made with raw, peeled and unstoned mango)
- Menthi aavakaaya or Menthikaaya (Includes fenugreek)
- Nuvvulu aavakaaya (Includes sesame)
- Paccha Aavakaya ("Aavakaya" with yellow chillies than red ones which are usually used)
- Pulihora Aavakaaya (Aavakaaya with taalimpu(Telugu) called Chaunk in Hindi)
- Senagala Aavakaaya (Aavakaaya with addition of Chick peas or Bengal Gram or Chana)
- Thokku Maagaya (Maagaya including the mango peel)
- Thurum Maagaya (Maagaya with grated mango)
- Uduku Maagaya (Maagaya with boiled rather than raw mango)
- Usiri Aavakaya (Mango replaced with Gooseberry)
- Vellulli Aavakaaya (Aavakaaya with addition of Garlic)
- Yendu aavakaaya (Aavakaaya with pickled, dried mango cubes mildly sweetened with Jaggery)
Steaming hot rice is mixed with Aavakaaya (one or two mango pieces), and ghee (clarified butter) or groundnut oil, and made into handy balls and eaten. Aavakaaya is often eaten with cooked rice and yogurt. Raw Onion can be added for munching which enhances the taste. Most people prefer to eat it along with Muddapappu (Pigeon pea Dal) and Neyyi (Ghee/Clarified Butter). Some people prefer to eat it within the 1–2 months period of preparation, when it is called Kottaavakaya.
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