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Kitchen Fun - Aavakaya Biryani / Mango Pickle Biryani

A friend of mine posted his Aavakaya Biryani a few weeks ago, which prompted me to make one for myself. And thus the post today.

Mango Pickle has several variations and versions based on which state the recipes come from in India. They range from sweet to sour to spicy in taste. Typically the sweeter versions I found in the North Indian cuisine, and lesser in the South Indian cuisines. However, I could be wrong. 

Aavakaya is one of the famous pickles from the lot we make from the Telugu (Indian Language) speaking states, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Aavakaya basically means Mustard (= Aava) Based Cut Unripened Fruit (= Kaya) in this case, Mango. The basic ingredients include cut raw Mango pieces, Gingely Oil, Mustard Powder, Red Chili Powder and Salt. Other may be added based on the recipe the maker is using.

I remember my grandmother, my mom and her sisters spending the entire month of April and May making fresh mango pickle at home. There would be at least 10 to 12 varieties of Mango Pickles made during that season: Aavakaya (traditional one); Geechina Aava (= Pickle with shredded Mango); Uppaava (= No Spice pickle); Maagaya (= boiled and cooked raw Mango); Allapaava (= Ginger laced Mango Pickle); Thiyyataava (= Sweet Mango Pickle, although this is rarely made); and many more.

Not just with Mangoes, but any vegetable or fruit gets converted to sweet, spicy or sour pickle. But, that is for another post, for it would take a blog post per pickle for me to explore them further. 

Despite so many variations and varieties, Aavakaya stands out. For it is the go-to pickle for any occasion or season. A spoon of Aavakaya with piping hot white rice and a dollop of ghee usually begins every Telugu person's meal. It is imbibed in their blood. Just thinking about it waters one's mouth; and I am not exaggerating at all.

We get tons of varieties of ready to eat pickles that we can buy in Indian Stores here. This is so perfect for people like me, who cannot really make their own pickles. Oh, I have tried many times. For some reason none of them turn right. I always look forward to the care packages my parents send me with fresh pickle instead. :P

Last year when my mom was visiting me in USA, she made a few varieties with the raw mangoes we got here. Although it's my mom's opinion that the mangoes and red chili powder that we get here are not as authentic as we get back home that make Aavakaya. Yet, she used the mangoes here with the red chili powder she brought from India, to make a few varieties that I freeze and use them one jar at a time.

Pictured: Uppava, Aavakaya and Tomato Pickle

Now for the recipe for the famous Aavkaya Biryani.


Ingredients:

1) Cooked White or Brown Rice - 1 Cup

2) Aavakaya - 1/4 Cup

3) Medium Onion - 1 chopped finely

4) Medium sized Potato - 1 diced

5) Medium sized Carrot - 1 diced

6) Ginger Garlic Paste - 1/4 teaspoon (optional)

7) For Seasonings:

a. Mustard Seeds - 1/4 teaspoon

b. Cumin Seeds - 1/4 teaspoon

c. Split Urad Daal -  1/4 teaspoon

d. Chana Daal - 1/4 teaspoon

e. Bay Leaves - 1

f. Cloves - 2

g. Cardamom - 1 pod split

h. Cinnamon Stick - a small piece

i. Turmeric - a pinch

8) Salt per taste

9) Oil for seasoning


Preparation Steps:

1) In a skillet, heat oil and add all the items listed in the seasonings.

2) Once they start to splutter, add Onions and Ginger Garlic Paste. Stir well till the Onions turn transparent.

3) Add the diced Potato and Carrots to the skillet. Stir well until the veggies are cooked.

4) Turn off the stove. Now fold in the Aavakaya into the veggie mixture. Keep it aside.

5) Pre-heat Oven to 350 degrees.

6) In a pan, layer alternately with cooked Rice and Veggie Aavakaya mixture until the pan is full.

7) Cook in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

8) Serve hot with Raita or Yogurt or Sambar or simply eat as is.

Tips:

1) You could use Basamti Rice or Sona Masoori or regular Brown Rice. It makes a tasty dish with any of these types of rice.

2) If using Basmati Rice, soak for an hour before cooking.

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