My son’s colleague, Akshaya, hails from Mannargudi (a small town 310 kms south of Chennai). She gave us maavattral (dried mango) prepared by her mother and told me that they make a kuzhambu (curry) with it. I asked her for the recipe and found it to be quite similar to the Vendhaya Kuzhambu I prepare, with the addition of dried mango. I was taken aback a little to hear that they don’t add ground coconut to the curry, as that would be an essential ingredient in Thirunelveli cooking. I have prepared this as given by her, but still believe that it could be improved with the addition of a little coconut 🙂 I served it with plain rice accompanied by fried appalams and koozhvattral (dried rice batter vattral) which makes for a delicious meal 🙂
We have an abundant harvest of mangoes in summer, and the stores are flooded with both ripe and unripe mangoes. We usually preserve unripe mangoes by making pickles and jams. We also dry the mangoes buried in salt, called Adai Maangai, in Thirunelveli, but this is the first time I heard of mangoes dried in the sun first, then boiled with salt and turmeric, and then dried again to make this Mannargudi Maavattral. Vattral is a dried product, of rice batters or a vegetable, which is usually deep fried. This maavattral cannot be deep fried because it is dried with the shell of its seed (which is inedible, and it would be a waste of oil to try to fry it).
The mango would have lost its nutrients in its extensive processing. The only ingredient that contributes energy is the oil, which contributes about 405 Calories for the entire curry. Therefore this curry is a low fat, low protein, and low energy preparation which contributes only a rich flavour to the meal.
- 10 pieces Maavattral (Dried Mango)
- 1 C Small Onion (Shallots/Sambar Vengayam), peeled
- ¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1 T Chilli Powder
- 2 tsp Coriander Powder
- 1/8 tsp Fenugreek Powder
- ¼ tsp Mustard Seeds
- ¼ tsp Fenugreek Seeds
- ½ C Tamarind Extract (see Notes for procedure)
- 1 T Salt, or to taste
- 3 T Gingelly Oil (Sesame Oil)
- 2 sprigs Curry Leaves
- Soak the dried mango in 1 cup of warm water for 20 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a saucepan.
- Add the mustard and fenugreek seeds. When the mustard seeds crackle, add the small onion. Fry on low heat till the onion becomes translucent.
- Squeeze the water out of the mango and save the soaking water. Add the mango pieces to the saucepan.
- Stir for a couple of minutes.
- Add the masala powders i.e., turmeric, chilli, coriander, and fenugreek powders. Stir for a minute.
- Add the salt and tamarind extract. Add the water in which the mango was soaked. Bring to boil and then simmer for a few minutes.
- Add the curry leaves and remove from heat.
- I use Kashmiri Chilli Powder for its glorious colour and mild flavour. If you are using any other kind, use only half the amount.
- To improve flavour, add ½ cup of coconut scrapings ground to a paste to the curry before boiling.
- Tamarind extract: Soak a lime-sized piece of tamarind in ½ cup of hot water for at least half an hour. Squeeze the tamarind into the water in which it is soaked to extract the juice. Strain twice and set aside. I strain the tamarind juice twice to remove the grit from the tamarind.