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Recipe: Traditional North Indian Jackfruit Pickle, Mango Pickle

May 15, 2024 12:04 IST
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Mango Pickle

Photograph: Kind courtesy: Smritiraj25/Wikimedia Commons

Gallup, in conjunction with Cookpad, regularly conducts surveys to determine how much the world cooks.

The results of their last poll were released in 2022 and showed that, across the world, families/homes cooked an average of 6.4 meals per week, which is down from the pandemic and lockdown-influenced figures of the years before that. It also showed that men headed into the kitchen most often in Italy.

Southern Asia -- in which India figures -- was one of the regions that saw the largest decline in weekly cooked meals. And India, which once proudly and prolifically did some of the most home-cooked meals in the region, at 7.5 meals a week, dipped to 5.9 meals a week in 2022. We will wait to see what 2023 shows us.

It's difficult to figure the reasons for less home-cooking in our country. Maybe dining out is on the rise and ordering in too, as restaurant food becomes more accessible to the pocket and geographically too via apps. But, there can be no doubt that keeping your family's personal score to at least 12 to 14 meals of ghar ka khana a week is the key to good nutrition!

Cooking many times a day, or at least two meals, is only daunting business if you don't do it regularly. It's like bicycling and you can't get off the bicycle or suddenly an enjoyable easy chore becomes more uphill.

When you are in a regular routine of cooking -- with your nutritious menus planned, ingredients purchased in advance, pre-cooking tasks in order (kabuli channa soaked or potatoes boiled) -- it all falls into place, very easily, like a well-oiled machine, alongside work and other responsibilities.

And cooking is a skill you never want to let go of and wish to pass on, by example, to your sons, daughters, grandchildren, because just-off-the-stove homecooked meals are, obviously, all about health and long-term wellness.

In many houses/apartments across the world, meals made from scratch are unheard of, and you would never want your family to reach such a place. Or if people cook in their kitchens, it's largely stuff assembled from bottles and packages; a knife or a peeler or anything fresh is never used.

Facebook regularly throws up videos of bizarre definitions of 'homecooked' meals where bottles of processed pasta sauce and cans of high-sodium sausages and baked beans are unappetisingly slopped onto readymade tortillas and frozen fries and the whole weird assemblage is bunged into the oven.

Cooking up the entire range of traditional food, from salads, raitas to pickle and chutneys, is possible with a few ounces of planning and even without home help, although assistance from a partner or your child is invaluable.

There are also a few hacks and easy solutions available to get yourself halfway there (apart from having help pre-cut some ingredients for you).

Ideally freshly soaked imli is the best way to go, but leaning on prepared imli paste is not so bad, once in a way.

Or using frozen grated coconut, frozen shelled peas, pre-cut bhindi or peeled garlic, if it gets quite a few more fresh meals to your table.

Mango pickle preparations
Photograph: Kind courtesy: Bhaskaranaidu/Wikimedia Commons

Even seasonal pickle -- each with its own special fragrance be it pungent baby onions or the mustardy khushboo of mango achaar -- is not so hard to put together with some organisation and shortcuts.

I have made mango pickle and jackfruit pickle in summer, religiously, for years together. But as the home audience decreases (children move away) it's a family tradition getting slowly shelved.

Who is going laboriously chop through five kg of sticky, hard-to-cut oozing jackfruit or kilos and kilos of difficult-to-slice raw mangoes? But that's just it. You have to keep the ritualistic cooking juggernaut going, so recipes don't die out, be it Diwali sweets or Christmas cake. And you will surely find some takers for extra bottles of pickle.

This year the shortcuts helped me tremendously. I was stunned at the ease of ordering prec-ut jackfruit and green mangoes on Swiggy in smaller quantities. After that making the pickle was a cinch.

The mango pickle recipe below was passed down to me from my grandmother. This was how she made mango pickle baking summer after summer.

The jackfruit pickle is a variation of a recipe I received from Vidya Pant, the mother of dearest friend Seema Pant, many years ago, that I have followed it ever since.

Photograph: Zelda Pande

Ammaji's Mango Achaar


  • 5 kg green mango, chopped into pickle-size pieces
  • ¼ kg rai or black mustard, coarsely ground
  • 200 gm methi or fenugreek, roasted, coarsely ground
  • 250 gm haldi or turmeric powder
  • 200 gm lal mirch or red chilly powder
  • 600 gm salt
  • 50 gm hing or asafoetida
  • 1 kg mustard oil


  • Wash the cut mango and dry in the sun for a day.
  • Heat 2 cups of the mustard oil in a very large kadhai or tope or saucepan over medium heat.
    When the oil begins to smoke a little, add the ground masalas and powders.
    Then mix in the mango pieces.
    Toss well and take off heat.
  • Keep overnight covered.
    Toss it again the next next morning.
    In the evening mash the mango pieces lightly to soften a bit.
    Heat the balance oil till smoking point and add to the pickle.
  • Fill into a large pickle jar and store in a cool dark place.
    It will be ready to eat in 15 days and keep the pickle in the sun, off and on, for a few days to hasten the process.

Photograph: Zelda Pande

Vidya Pant's Kathal Pickle


  • 2 kg raw jackfruit, chopped into pickle-size pieces
  • 1 tbsp ajwain or carom seeds
  • 50 gm methi or fenugreek seeds
  • 25 gm yellow rai or mustard seeds
  • 25 gm black rai or mustard seeds
  • 20 gm kalonji or nigella seeds
  • 4 tbsp chilly powder, or per taste
  • 2 tbsp hing or asafoetida powder
  • 4 tbsp aamchur or dried mango powder
  • 40 gm haldi or turmeric powder
  • 50 gm salt, or per taste
  • 3 tbsp ground sonf or fennel seeds
  • 3-4 tbsp sugar
  • 200 ml mustard oil
  • 200 ml white vinegar

Kathal Ka Achaar being prepared

Photograph: Zelda Pande


  • Mix the jackfruit pieces with the haldi and the salt.
    Keep aside
  • Dry roast the methi, both types of rai, ajwain and the kalonji together on a tawa or griddle over low heat.
    Grind coarsely.
    Keep aside
  • Warm the oil in a large kadhai or tope or saucepan over medium heat.
    When it begins to smoke, add the hing, ground masala, sonf, chilly powder, sugar, then the aamchur and then the jackfruit and toss well.
    Take off heat.
    Add the vinegar.
  • Store in a large pickle jar.
    It will be ready after a week to 15 days and keep the pickle in the sun, off and on, for a few days to hasten the process.

Zelda's Note: I have not included the servings and each recipes yields a large baranee or earthenware jar of pickle that can feed an average-sized family for a year!

To make smaller quantities you need to do the math and halve and quarter the spices as per the quantity of jackfruit or mango. But remember the masala needs considerably disproportionate reduction. If you strictly stick to math, you will have too much masala for too little mango or jackfruit

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