Avakaya is hands-down, the most important and the most popular pickle in Southern India. It’s a pickle whose legend precedes its existence. It’s a pickle whose preparation is considered a celebration of its own. It is the epitome of pickles in India.
A south Indian is never wary of the memories associated with Avakaya, his family and friends. As soon as summer starts, a delightful eagerness enthrals the lives of all Telugus waiting to taste their first bite of the hot and spicy pickle. The preparation of this pickle is a gala at home and involves the contribution of all the family members, including the kids. Here, the kids’ duty being that they resist themselves till the pickle is made.
As the heat of summer bolsters further, fresh mangoes can be seen growing on the trees and being sold in the markets. Since the first stock is the best stock, food markets will be seen with husbands and wives bargaining the pulp out of fruit vendors. Like the summer heat, tempers will also be seen hot. Once everyone is back home with the groceries, they will cool down to a glass of cold water or lemonade to finally begin the preparation.
Aromas of spices and oil will fill the houses of all Telugu families. All the women in the house will get to stage to begin their preparations for the mango pickle. Balconies and terraces will be seen laden with cut pieces of mango to dry out the moisture from mangoes. Usually, an elderly member from the family will be found guarding the mangoes to prevent kids from stealing a snack now and then.
A lot of care goes into choosing mangoes for Avakaya. Only the early stock is chosen since only unripe mangoes give the world-famous tart flavour to the pickle. It is cut into small wedges and separated from the seed such that the pieces hold their shape well. Since a huge batch of mangoes will be cut at once, most family members will be seen chopping them away.
The final preparation of Avakaya includes mixing the right spices in right quantities with the huge number of mango pieces. This is a task that is left to the most experienced hand in the house, usually the grandmothers. The mixing too is an intricate process that although seems straightforward, involves a lot of science. The right amount of spices balance and compliment each other which gives Avakaya its spunky taste. No metal object is used while mixing the ingredients since it could cause blackening or oxidation of the fruit. It is mixed with hands and only porcelain jars or ‘jaadis’ as they are famously known are used to store the precious treasure. Salt and oil are added accordingly such that the pickle is preserved only by natural ingredients.
Then, some bottles are given away to friends and family. Some are stowed away in a cupboard and the rest is kept on the countertop for consumption.
Like Rumi says that “there are a hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground”, there are a hundred ways to eat Avakaya. Mix Avakaya into a bed of steaming hot rice drenched in desi, homemade ghee to experience the utter delight that Avakaya is. You can also eat Avakaya with ‘mudda pappu’ (boiled lentil) and rice. In the end, just have some Avakaya with your curd rice. You can also eat Avakaya with your dosas (crepes), idlis, chapatis, parathas and much more. For a truly legendary dish that Avakaya is, the combinations are endless.
Avakaya then continues its tales of glory in households for several years. Most households make enough to last them for a year i.e. until the next summer so that they can prepare a new batch. Since mangoes are usually a delight of summer, Avakaya allows us to enjoy mangoes throughout the year.
DesiAuthentic brings you Avakaya or mango pickle straight from Telugu households. Our pickles are made only from locally sourced ingredients that are picked by hand. Rekindle the memories of your childhood or explore the legendary pickle of South India. Order your Avakaya today: