Winter is here at its peak and the surrounding is so much colour coordinated. Its that time of the year, when every terrace is lined up with freshly filled pickle jars. Here in Odisha, we make pickle out of almost all the fruits and vegetables available. But Ambula or dried mango pieces seasoned with salt are are enough to tickle our palate and be the queen of our kitchen pantry.
“Ambula” are staple ingredient in any Odia kitchen. A lot of dishes including fish items require a simple addition of “Ambula” to give it a tangy flavour. This humble ambula marinated with sea salt and chilly powder is my all time favorite pickle indulgent.
Rai is the Odia denotation of mustard. In Odia culinary dictionary it synonymous with a dish prepared using mustard paste. Ambula Rai has a special place in Odia literature as well. In many books there is mention of Madhuruchi erstwhile known as Ambula rai. In the 18th century Odia scripture “Ambika Bilasa” ,which depicts the divine marriage between Lord Shiba and Goddess Parbati, there is mention of Ambula rai in the ceremonial banquet feast.
“ଅମୂଲ୍ୟ ଶାକର ମଧୁରୁଚି କଢ଼ି ରାଇ
ଅପୂର୍ବ ଆମ୍ବିଳ ସୂର୍ଯ୍ୟପାଗୀ କାଂଜି କାହିଁ ଯେ”
Even in Abhimanyu’s “Bidagdha Chintamani” ambula rai prepared by SreeRadha Rani is the favorite of Sree Krishna.
This sweet, savory dish can be a very good accompaniment with rice or pulao. But unlike other Odia cuisines where mustard paste is cooked, here it is used as raw.
The cooking process is as simple as making tea.So here is one simple recipe that can light up your mood.
Mustard seeds : 2 tbsp(soak in water for 30 mins)
Ginger : 1/2 inch cut into pieces
Green chilly: 1(You can add more as per your choice)
Ambula :4 (cut into small pieces and soaked in little water)
curry leaves: 1 sprig
Pancha Phutana or 5 spice mixture:1 tsp
Mustard oil:1 tbsp
Salt: As per taste
Grated coconut: 1/2 cup
Beaten curd: 1/2 cup
Jaggery/Sugar: 2 tbsp(Adjust as per your taste)
In a grinder, put together soaked mustard seeds, green chillies and ginger pieces and give it a whirl. Add little water to make a smooth paste out of it. Let the paste sit for an hour before you use it.As I have already indicated that this paste is used in its raw form, the resting period allows to reduce the pungency of the mustard.
Add the ambula pieces, beaten curd, mustard paste,grated coconut,jaggery and salt together in a bowl. Mix it thoroughly and keep aside.
Now heat a skillet or tadka pan and put oil in it. Throw the chilies, panch phutana and the curry leaves and allow them to sputter. Take care not to burn this tempering. [Lower the flame once you put the 5 spice mix]. Pour this tadka mixture over the ambula mixture that you prepared. Cover it for a while, so that flavors get infused within.
Your rai is ready. You can keep it in refrigerator for at least a week.
This simple dish will definitely lighten both your mood and food experience up. So next time you are here, you know what is in your food-ing list.
I promise I will be more regular soon.
Be kind & be awesome,