This is Nanee’s mango atchar or chutney. When I first came to the United States, I could not get used to cold sandwiches that were served everywhere for lunch. The only thing that made them edible for me was adding atchar inside. Enjoy this step by step overview from my daughter-in-law, when she, my son and my daughter learned to make it from my mother. Growing up in Guyana and early in my childhood and young adulthood, the only way to learn to cook the traditional Guyanese food was by a little of this and a little of that and by a lot of practice. My children were fortunate to learn from their grandmother (my mother) how to make some Guyanese recipes the traditional way. This is a repost from a family blog in May 2012 on how to make mango achar, that much-loved, much-fought-over Guyanese condiment.
Step 1: Peel a bunch of green/unripe mangoes. Anything that shows the barest hint of ripeness must be segregated and dealt with separately (we processed the yellow but still farely unripe mango with garlic, salt, pepper and cayenne for “fauxchar,” which my son-in-law, Andy further doctored later in the week into a roast duck dipping sauce. You can find this Salty Mango Dipping sauce here. For traditional Guyanese atchar, you want only the literally green flesh. Once they’re peeled, cut the flesh away from the seed.
Step 2: Chop the mangoes very fine. We recommend using a food processor. We used a blender due to a chopper malfunction. This required a lot of additional slicing to get the mango chunks small enough to play nice with the blender blades. The pieces should be small, but your goal is not, I repeat, not, liquification.
Step 3: Salt the mangoes. You want to mix in enough salt that you can taste it, without it being overwhelmingly salty. Mix well with spoon (or hands in this case). Then leave the mangoes refrigerated overnight so the salt can draw out the juices.
Step 4: Chop up a bunch of really hot peppers. We used a mix of wiri wiri and what is called in Guyana the “ball of fire” pepper, though I’m not sure what it’s called elsewhere (there’s an information page on hot peppers
here if you are interested). And, um, wear gloves or use a spoon!
Step 5: Squeeze as much juice as possible from the salted green mangoes. This can be done by hand, but is much more efficiently completed by using cheesecloth. Discard the juice (or, if you have a fabulous recipe for salty green mango juice, share it in the comments!). This step is important–too much liquid will cause a white mold to grow, spoiling your achar and wasting the hours of work that went into its production.
Step 6: Add your spices: minced garlic, achar masala, hot peppers, and mustard oil.Here’s where things get tricky. Measurements are not really used. (Update: see recipe below) You can see we had a very large bowl about half full of green mango. I’m guessing we added about four ounces of minced garlic, three ounces of a prepared Trinidadian “amchar masala,” 3/4 of the hot peppers (they are in a shallow cereal bowl, for reference), and initially just enough mustard oil to infuse the lot. This inexactitude is why step seven is so important.
Step 7: Taste. You really need someone who knows what achar should taste like to taste what you’ve mixed up and see if you’re missing anything. Of course, everyone makes their own slightly different variations (Nannee has even made some with olive oil!), but if you’ve never tasted achar before, I recommend you find a Guyanese friend to act as taster. It should not be difficult. Tell them you’re making achar. They’ll come right over I’m sure.
Step 8: Bottle your achar, adding additional mustard oil. For all that mango, we barely filled four jars with achar. Nannee used most of the bottle of oil, stopping to pour it over the achar as she went. For reference, it was a 500ml bottle of oil, and there’s about an inch of it left as it sits in my cupboard today.
Step 9: Leave the achar out in full sun. It should be left out for a week to cure, but a week of rain meant it got about a day on the patio before it went into the fridge.
This is the measured recipe. It’s great eaten with phulourie and it is essential that you use green, unripe mangoes. If y0ur mangoes are slightly ripe then try this recipe. It yields the 3.5 bottles you see below.
Nanee's mango Atchar-Guyanese Chutney
- 12 green, unripe mangoes, peeled
- 10 cloves garlic, peeled
- 4 large or 8 small hot peppers (wiri wiiri or scotch bonnet)
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons garam masala
- 4 teaspoons cumin (geera)
- 2-3 tablespoons mustard oil
- Step 1 Use food processor or grate mangoes into small pieces.
- Step 2 IMince garlic and peppers in blender or food processor
- Step 3 Combine mangoes , garlic and peppers.
- Step 4 heat vegetable oil in a saucepan. Add all ingredients except mustard oil and simmer 5 minutes. Let cool.
- Step 5 Pour into sterilized jars, add just enough mustard oil to cover and seal.
- Step 6 Over time,a s the jar is opened and the chutney is eaten, pour a little mustard oil over, just to cover, to preserve the chutney. this chutney will keep for months.