You’re probably wondering what the heck is wrong with Chris, when you read both Amchar and talkari as the heading of this recipe. I didn’t know if this would be considered amchar, talkari or curry Pommecythere considering I didn’t use any curry in cooking it. All I know is that the few times I had this growing up, was the occasional time I would purchase some from the many street food vendors outside the gates at our high school. Are there still food vendors outside schools today in Trinidad and Tobago?
This is the first time I was making this dish and I must say that I’m quite proud of the results.
3 Pommecythere (green / fully developed)
2 tablespoon amchar massala
1 teaspoon salt
1 scotch bonnnet pepper (any hot pepper would work)
3 cloves garlic – crushed
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoon brown sugar (golden.. not dark)
1 1/4 cup water
1/2 medium onion sliced thin (optional)
Note: Depending on how sour or tart your Pommecytheres are, you may need to add a bit more salt. The idea is to get a sort of savory taste, with the richness of the brown sugar and amchar massala. So if at the end you find it to be a bit tart, add a bit more salt or sugar.
Some people tend to pre-boil the Pommecythere pieces before actually cooking it in the massala. By doing so you achieve two thing. 1. Speeds up the cooking time, as it will already be tender. And 2. The pre-boiling tends to remove some of the tartness from the Pommecythere. If you decide on pre-boiling, you’ll only need about 1/4 cup water as mentioned in the ingredients listed above and you’ll cook it only a few minutes after adding all the ingredients to the pot.
If you’re wondering what Pommecythere is…
From Wikipedia : Spondias dulcis or Ambarella, (and its alternative binomial, Spondias cytherea, Malay Apple), Golden apple, is an equatorial or tropical tree, with edible fruit containing a fibrous pit. It is known by many names in various regions, including Pomme cythere in Trinidad and Tobago, June plum in Jamaica, Juplon in Costa Rica, Jobo Indio in Venezuela, and Caja-manga in Brazil.
Give the Pommecythere a good rinse under running water, then using a cleaver or heavy knife, cut through them into wedges (see pic below). Give them a another rinse if you like. Then get the other ingredients ready. You’ll notice that I didn’t bother peeling the Pommecythere as I find that the skin adds to the overall texture at the end. And you will find that the center of the Pommecythere is somewhat spiny and tough.. this is why I used a heavy cleaver to cut through them.
Heat the vegetable oil in a fairly heavy/deep pan and add the onion and garlic. Allow that to cook for a few minutes, then add the slices of pepper. Remember (I learned the hard way today) that the fumes from the pepper meeting the heated oil will be strong and cause you to cough. Open your kitchen windows and turn on the vent fan if you have one over your stove.
Allow this to cook for about 3 minutes, then add the pieces of cut Pommecythere and give it a good stir. Next up.. add the amchar massala and stir again. Now add the sugar, salt and water and bring to a boil.
After it comes to a boil, reduce the flame to between a rolling boil and simmer.. place the lid on the pot and allow this to cook for about 25-30 minutes. Basically until it’s tender and becomes a thick sort of sauce. Remember what I mentioned in the note above and check to ensure it’s not to tart or sour as we would say on the islands.
This is used as a condiment for many curry dishes, spicy snack or as a side with roti in many instances. Before you go I invite you to leave me your comments below.. even if it just to say hello. It’s always appreciated. And don’t forget to join us on facebook and do check out the cooking videos.
Talkari or talcarie is a term used to describe a curry or side dish on the islands, and is East Indian in origin. Mango talkari (my mouth still waters as I recall my school boy days) or Mango Amchar was sold by vendors just outside the gates of my primary and secondary school. At breaks it would be a mad dash to fork out your 50 cents daily allowance to grab a pack of this spicy mango snack. There were times that the vendor would use too much pepper in it’s creation and you’d be gasping for air with the heat, by the time you’d be back in English Lit class.
Before we get to the actual recipe I’d like to point out that there are different variations of making this talkari. Some people pre-boil the mangoes or you can cook it directly in the amchar massala as I’m about to show you. There’s also a difference in ways you can finish. You can try to keep the mango pieces whole or in my case, try to get it to melt a bit and form a gooey texture.
2 green mangoes (cut into wedges)
2 tablespoons Amchar Massala
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
black pepper (optional)
1 habanero pepper – sliced thin (or your favourite hot pepper)
3 cloves garlic crushed/chopped
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
Wash and cut the stem of the mangoes and get ready to cut into pieces. I’ve created a short video (see bottom of page) showing you how to go about cutting the mangoes to the required size. Bear in mind that I’m making this mango talkari with the skin and seed still attached. However you can also peel and cube the mango into pieces if you don’t want to be bothered with the time and effort it takes to cut the hard seed of the mango. If you do go this route, it will decrease on the cooking time and chances are you will end up with a more “melted” texture to the mango talkari.
After you’ve cut the mango into 1 cm pieces, wash and set aside to start cooking (be sure to remove the inside white pieces of seed that inside the mango seed itself) . In a heavy bottom pot/pan add the oil and allow to heat. Then toss in the garlic and slices of hot peppers, allow this to cook for a minute or 2 on medium heat.
Now we’ll add the pieces of mango and the amchar massala and stir to coat every piece of mango with the massala. After a couple minutes turn down the heat between medium and low and add the salt and sugar. Cover the pan and allow to cook for about 30-45 minutes. Depending on the type of green mango you used the cooking time will vary, as well as the tartness when you bite into it. Keep this in mind as you taste near the end for salt and sugar… add more accordingly. You’re looking for a taste with a combination of the massala, sweetness, tartness and heat from the hot pepper we used. You’re probably saying in your head “Chris how the heck should we know what you mean?” trust me, once you taste it you’ll know if you need to add more sugar and/or salt. If all you can taste is the massala or a tart taste… you need more sugar and a pinch of salt. BTW, the ideal mango talkari will have a lingering taste of the hot pepper and not be overwhelmed by heat. Unless this is to your liking!
I have a feeling I missed something in the description so let’s recap…
- remove the stem and cut the mango into pieces (wash and remove seed pieces)
- heat oil and cook garlic and hot peppers
- add mango and massala
- add sugar and salt, turn down the heat and cook with pot covered for about 40 minutes or until tender and coated. Stir often to prevent sticking and burning.
* Remember for faster cooking and to avoid having to cut the mango seed.. peel and cube the green mango.
Couple things I’d like to mention before I finish up with this recipe.. be sure to get “full” mango for best results. A full mango is one that’s mature enough to go to ripe soon and will be a yellowish shade when you cut it open (it will be less tart or sour) . The second thing I’d like to mention is that the hot pepper is an important part of this recipe, so even if you can’t handle the habanero or scotch bonnet, you can use a milder pepper. One that you can handle!
Be sure to leave me your comments or questions below.