Friday, May 21, 2010

Pineapple Raita and Green Mango Pickle

To me, no Indian meal is complete without all the accompanying sides. My standbys are a little raita to cool things down, a little pickle to perk things up, and of course plenty of fluffy, fragrant basmati rice. Don't think of these sides as entire extra dishes to cook. They're more like condiments, and each shouldn't take much longer to whip up than a salad dressing.

Ideally you'll make the pickles the day before, but these unusual quick pickles can actually be eaten as soon as you make them. Please note that the key ingredient, green mango, is quite different from the sweet, ripened mango you commonly see in stores. Green mangoes are firm, with pale yellow interiors, and a tart flavor that contains no trace of sweetness. I found these green mangoes at the Indian grocery store attached to Vik's Chaat House. Berkeley Bowl also carries them. In lieu of a green mango, you could try making this with the hardest, least ripe mango you can find.
The raita is reverse engineered from a version that we had at Sakoon in Mountain View. You can make many versions of this simple salad, playing with different spices like mustard seeds and coriander, or substituting fennel, cucumber, or slightly wilted spinach for the pineapple. The pineapple version, however, is particularly refreshing and unusual, with a subtle sweetness that really plays well with the spicy, earthy flavors of an Indian curry.

Green Mango Pickle (adapted from Veggie Belly)
1 green mango
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
2 pinches asafoetida
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons red chili powder (or cayenne)
¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
Scant ¾ tablespoon salt

1. Peel and dice the green mango into ½ inch pieces.

2. Heat a small skillet and toast the fenugreek until it becomes fragrant (about two minutes). Transfer to a spice grinder and grind to a powder.

3. Place the mango in a bowl, and mound the turmeric, chili powder, and fenugreek powder on top.

4. In the same skillet you used to toast the fenugreek, heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds and once those begin to pop, quickly add the asafoetida.

5. Pour the hot, spiced oil onto the mound of dried spices. Add the salt. Stir well. You can eat immediately, or seal in an airtight container and refrigerate. The flavor will intensify over time. I actually preferred this in its earlier stages, but my husband loved the super salty mature pickle. NOTE: My batch kept for about a month. Go Snapware!

Pineapple Raita (inspired by a dish at Sakoon Restaurant)
2 cups Greek yogurt (I used non-fat)
Healthy pinch of salt
Juice from half a lime (or more, to taste)
Generous ¼ cup of very finely diced fresh pineapple
Handful of cilantro leaves, minced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1. In a small, dry skillet, toast the cumin seeds until they begin to darken and turn fragrant (about a minute). Transfer to a spice grinder and grind to a powder.

2. Reserving a small amount of pineapple and cilantro for garnishing, combine the cumin with all the other ingredients and let sit for ten minutes for flavors to meld. Top with the reserved garnish and serve. 

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  2. this recipe sounds delicious, perfect for summer day ahead. :)

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