Saturday, 24 November 2012

Facebook food fraternities

 Methamba मेथांबा (Sweet and sour mango relish)

For the last year or so, Facebook foodie groups have been the newfound playing fields for me. Logging on to FB, I invariably turn to these groups before checking out updates and newsfeeds. This is no ogling food porn! I log onto them all the time, post- prandial, too - for they are more than just for food!

These groups have a sweet support system of appreciation and commiseration. One feels chuffed and at times overwhelmed by the positive response of friends and readers. Then there is the tartness of teasing and tongue-in-cheek poking fun between friends. Often the savouriness of sallying a dish critically leads to a healthy discussion and loads of learning. The trace ticking off bordering on the bitter heightens all tastes and brings friends together with tenacity and renewed resolves!

Kuch Khatta, Kuch Mitha aur Kuch Teekha, an active and interesting foodie group on FB recently celebrated its first anniversary. What a phenomenal growth the group has had! Just one short of the magic number 3333 – a minute ago when I checked on its page!

When Donna Pinto, the talented and enthusiastic matriarch of the group asked me to post a recipe that signatures the group’s name, I knew instantly what I was going to post- this lip-smacking, tongue clicking raw mango relish called ‘methamba’ in Marathi!

The word methamba is a combination of two words, methi meaning fenugreek and amba meaning mango. This saucy relish is not limited to sour and bitter of the two eponymous contents, with jaggery adding sweetness, the chilli heating it and the salt catalysing the coming together of all the tastes.

This used to be made almost as a temporary side dish- like a gap filler before the preserves in their porcelain jars or martabans on the annual pilgrimage were ready to be consumed after a few days or so of starting to pickle in the brine and spice.

But their temporality was not a concern at all, for a methamba was hardly ever going to be left unfinished to go bad!

Try this and see how long it lasts in the jar! You won’t rest until the last of it has been carefully scraped out of the jar!



2 cups raw green mango, peeled, deseeded and diced
¾ tsp powdered methi  (fenugreek seeds)
½ cup grated jaggery or brown sugar OR half jaggery and half sugar (adjust according to the sourness of the mango)
2 -3 tsp kashmiri red chilli powder (or more)
½ tsp mustard seeds
2 tbsp oil (or more)
¼ tsp hing (asafoetida)
¼ tsp haldi (turmeric)
Salt to taste


Heat the oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds to it. Once the seeds start to splutter, add the methi powder, hing and turmeric and add the raw mango cubes immediately without letting the spices burn. Allow the mango to cook for a few minutes. You can add a little water if the mixture starts to dry out and burn, but in the interest of a longer shelf life add some more oil. Well, not that this will linger on for long! Then add the jaggery and allow it to dissolve in the mixture fully. You need to move the mixture around to mix it well, but try not to mash it too fine as a little texture adds some drama to the methamba. Now add the red chilli powder and see the mixture turn a brilliant red when the oil gets tinted gloriously by the chilli powder. Check and adjust the salt, chilli powder and jaggery. The mixture is supposed to be a combo of sweet/sour/spicy. Once ready the methamba will get this glossy and saucy translucence. Remove from the heat and let it cool. Store in a clean and dry glass or porcelain jar and refrigerate the leftover.

Methamba is great with roti, bread, masala poori, thalipeeth, dosas and chillas of all descriptions and also in a burger!

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