Amba (condiment)

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Amba
Amba.jpg
Type Spread or dip
Place of origin Iraq
Region or state India, Iraq, Israel and Saudi Arabia
Main ingredients Pickled mango
Cookbook: Amba  Media: Amba

Amba (Arabic: عمبة, أمبة, همبة‎‎, Hebrew: עמבה‎‎) is a tangy mango pickle condiment popular in Middle Eastern cuisine (particularly Saudi, Iraqi, Indian and Israeli cuisines). Its name derives from the Sanskrit for mango.

It is typically made of mangoes, vinegar, salt, mustard, turmeric, chili and fenugreek, similarly to savoury mango chutneys.

The name "amba" seems to have been derived from the Sanskrit word "amra",[1] and the mango is a native of India.

Amba is frequently used in Iraqi cuisine, especially as a spicy sauce to be added to fish dishes, falafel, kubbah, kebabs, and eggs.

Amba is popular in the Arabian Peninsula. Sold in sealed jars or by kilo. Eaten with bread as part of nawashef (a mixed platter of small plates containing different types of cheese, egg dishes, pickles, ful mudammas, falafel, mutabbag and offal) type meals at breakfast or dinner.

Amba is popular in Israel, where it was introduced by Iraqi Jews in the 1950s and 1960s. It is often served as a dressing on sabikh[2] and as an optional topping on falafel, meorav yerushalmi, kebab, salads and shawarma sandwiches.

Similarly, Assyrians typically use amba along with falafel, too.

Amba is similar to the South Asian pickle achar. The principal differences are that amba has large pieces of mango rather than small cubes, and that achar also contains oil.

Amba in Literature[edit]

Amba is also mentioned in literary works, mainly memoirs. In his memoir Baghdad Yesterday Sasson Somekh dedicates a whole chapter to amba.[3] He uses amba to tell the story of the Iraqi Jewish community that had satellite communities in India and Southeast Asia. In the same chapter Somekh references another Iraqi, who wrote a short story about amba (Abd al-Malik Noori, "It happened on a Friday").

Khalid Qisthini, a columnist at Asharq al-Awsat, wrote a short article on remembering the foods of Baghdad of the past. His article is titled “Talking about the food of amba and sammoon, which characterised Baghdad of the past." He remembers that in his youth, school children would rush out of school to get sammoon with amba from the street vendor, who, if generous, would add a little more amba.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Dictionary – mango". Spoken Sanskrit. Retrieved 6 July 2015. 
  2. ^ Cheshes, Jay (July 26, 2006). "Passing the Hummus, Reminded of Home". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 August 2009. 
  3. ^ Somekh, Sasson. Baghdad, Yesterday: The Making of an Arab Jew. Jerusalem: Ibis Editions, 2007. Print