My first memory of mango kuchela goes way back to my childhood, when I first had kuchela flavored with mustard oil, along with dhal, rice and fry dry (small herrings or sardines fried very dry until crispy). The memory of that mustard oil clearing my sinus still haunts me and to this day.. I’m still to try anything with mustard oil after that experience. This is the reason why in this mango kuchela there’s no use of mustard oil as in some traditional recipes.
This mango kuchela is one of those spicy condiments you’d get served on popular street food, such as doubles and aloo pies (deep fried dough stuffed with seasoned mashed potato) and versatile enough to accompany many curry dishes at dinner.
3 green mangoes
1 teaspoon salt
4 cloves garlic
3 tablespoon amchar massala
3/4 cup veg oil
2 scotch bonnet peppers
Notes: Try to get really green mango (skin and flesh), which will be very sour or tart. I stared with 3/4 cup of oil, but you may need about 1/2 cup more as it’s important that the entire jar (when storing) of the kuchela is covered with the oil. The oil can be used to drizzle onto food as well, as it will be well flavored. The 2 scotch bonnet peppers are used as a starting point, so feel free to add more as you’d like. The same can be said about the amchar massala…so add more if you want your finished mango kuchela to be darker and packed with more flavor.
The first thing we need to do is peel and wash the mangoes. Use a potato peeler or sharp paring knife and remove the outer skin off the mangoes. Don’t go too deep or you’ll be wasting the mango! When shopping for the green mangoes, be sure to get ones that’s firm (hard), no blemishes and if you were to knock them against something, they should give a solid sound (like a rock).
Next up, get your box grater and with some care, grate the mangoes. Remember there’s a seed in the middle of the mango, so be prepared when you get close to it. Discard this seed.
The grated mango will have a lot of moisture in it, so we’ll have to get rid of as much as we can. That moisture (what I was told) is what causes the mango kuchela to go bad fast, so we have to remove as much as we can. Using one of Caron’s new kitchen towels, I placed a heap of the grated mango in the center.. then used some elbow grease to squeeze out as much liquid as I could (see video below).
I recall as a kid my mom and grandma always having a galvanize (metal sheet) when mango was in season, covered with grated mango in the sun drying. It had that sort of musty scent, you’d also get when they were making mango amchar. Now it’s time to spread the grated mango onto a cookie sheet and allow to air dry for a few hours. If you’re blessed with Caribbean sunshine, make use of it and place it out in the sun. WARNING! Don’t place in the oven on low heat as I thought would be clever. The end result is parched mango, which will not work for this.
The next step (as the mango air-dries) is to puree the pepper and garlic. I used the entire pepper.. including the dreaded seeds, as I wanted the raw heat in this mango kuchela. I used my magic bullet, but you’re cool using a blender or a mortar and pestle. I know it may be hard, but try not to use any liquid in the blending process (puree). I ended up shaking my magic bullet a few times during the process to move the contents around. BTW, I gave the garlic and scotch bonnet peppers (feel free to use any hot pepper you have or like) a rough chop to make it easier to puree.
After about 3 hrs (overnight may be best) of air drying the grated mango should be ready now. So the next step is to place a sauce pan on medium/low heat, add the vegetable oil (don’t allow it to heat yet) and add the pureed pepper and garlic mix to it. If you add the puree to hot oil, it will splatter and give of a very strong (peppery) scent. Now allow the oil/pepper mixture to heat up and on medium/low heat, allow to cook for about 5 minutes.
Empty the dried grated mango into a bowl, then add the salt and amchar massala and give it a good stir. With the peppered oil mixture cooled, add that as well. Make sure to mix the entire batch of mango kuchela well.
Place in a dry bottle or container and it will keep for a few weeks. Additionally you can store this in the fridge for a couple months at least. When stored in the fridge be prepared for it to loose some of it’s heat. If storing on your kitchen cupboard, ensure that the mango is covered with oil. To add more oil.. heat (on high) vegetable oil, then allow to cool completely.. then add to the jar to cover the mango kuchela.