Being brought up in India, we’ve grown up on lush sweet mango chutney every summer. Sometimes, although rarely, the traditional East Indian mango chutney lasts through the monsoon and into a bit of winter. It’s a version of the Gujarati murabba and chunda, but not exactly. Or the Russian and Eastern European varenye.
What is Murabba? What is Chunda?
History says that the murabba was an Armenian and Georgian fruit preservative that travelled to India over the centuries and was adapted to include the local mango, and became a part of Gujarati culture. In Southern Indian states, Murabba is used to treat nausea and indigestion.
Across different cultures, Murabba has been made with amla aka gooseberrys, plums, apples, apricots, cherries and other local fruit.
In Eastern European countries like Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia and Ukraine, murabba is called varenie or varenye. It has been made from vegetables, apricots, apples, raspberries, rose petals, pine cones or strawberries. Leo Tolstoy, in his infamous novel Anna Karenina, also talks about the process of making a raspberry varenye.
Here’s the simple yet major difference between a murabba and a chunda.
Murabba being without spices can also be eaten as a dessert. Murabba uses only sugar or jaggery, cardamom, cloves and kesar or saffron. Chunda on the other hand contains spices such as roasted cumin and chilli powder. Traditionally, murabba or chunda are preserves or jams made as a result of fermentation in glass jars in open sunlight. However, nowadays, due to lack of time, murabba or chunda is just made on the stove like regular preserves and then stored in glass jars.
And here’s the difference between the murabba, the chunda and the East Indian mango chutney.
Did I say there was a difference? Okay maybe it’s that traditionally the East Indian mango chutney is just cut fine, while the chunda or murabba is shredded. But when you actually shred the mangoes for the East Indian Mango Chutney, you find it denser, richer and sweeter. Right?
Also, the ingredients for the East Indian version are more like the chunda. But sometimes we make murabba too. See the pic below. Yummy, aint’ it? Same recipe, just use turmeric, cloves and cardamom instead of chilli powder, garlic and ginger.
But I daresay that the garlic and ginger in the chunda take it to a whole different level.
If your recipe is different from my mom’s, comment below and let me know.
Buying the raw mangoes
Anyways, from the time we were kids, we used to go with mom to the big bazaar to buy green mangoes that were a teensy bit ripe, but mostly raw.
It’s fun to watch how deftly the guys skin the raw mangoes and then shred them.
Maybe they’re that quick because each one sticks to his own trade? I mean, I’ve never seen the skinning guy shredding, or the shredding guy chopping, or the chopping guy doing anything else. There’s a lesson in there. Stick to what you’re good at. 😉
These mangoes are so huge, almost a kilogram each. This shredded produce above was from just one mango!
This are the other guys chopping the mangoes into pieces for a different pickle. And the lady with the greenbag and purple salwar kameez who kept coming in my way.
Now let’s start with the recipe. 🙂
How to make murabba? Steps to follow
Clean the garlic and ginger and cut into slivers.
After cuttin, dash the garlic and ginger with a mortar and pestle or with a stone grinder which we East Indians call a patha. Probably derived from the word pathar meaning stone. We don’t have a patha anymore, so just use the plain old chopping board. The dashing brings out more of the flavor of the garlic and ginger.
Add the slivered ginger and garlic, jaggery, sugar and salt to the shredded mango in a large pot on a low flame. Jaggery is essentially gluten free, but may contain added gluten depending on the processing method or storage method. Check the pack before purchasing.
After a while, add in the raisins, chili powder, vinegar and stir.
After about half an hour add slivers of chopped almonds and continue to simmer. I haven’t seen any other recipes that use chopped almonds yet. Only we East Indians use almonds in chutneys, but I love them.
Stir occasionally to let the moisture out.
And once the mixture is sufficiently dry, take it off the heat. Allow it to cool before bottling. And there you have it, a melange or melee or mixture of the murabba, chunda and veranye that found itself called the East Indian mango chutney.
If you have more detailed info about how the mango chutney became a part of the East Indian culture, please tell me. I’d love to update this post with more details.
East Indian Mango Chutney
- 2.5 kg Raw Mangoes peeled and shredded
- 3 tbsp Chilli Powder
- 100 g Ginger
- 100 g Garlic
- 1.4 kg Sugar
- .5 kg Jaggery
- 200 g Raisins
- 200 ml Vinegar
- 80 g Salt
- Clean the garlic and ginger, cut into slivers and set aside.
- Shred all of the raw mango or purchase pre-shredded mango and add it to a large vessel.
- Allow the mango to simmer and lose some water.
- Add ginger, garlic, jaggery, sugar and salt to the shredded mango.
- Cook on a low heat before adding in raisins and stirring.
- Add in slivers of chopped almonds and stir ocassionally.
- Leave the mango chutney on the stove to simmer and thicken.
- Add in the vinegar 5 minutes before turning off the heat.
- Bottle and store. (Will last for months in cooler conditions or in a refrigerator.)