Sunday, March 3, 2013

Vadu Mangai / Mavadu project - 1

Vadu Managi or the Mavadu pickle is my all-time favourite and my childhood memories are filled with them. I remember my grandmother buying them in huge quantities and processing them to create the magical green tender mangoes which can go with practically any dish and also by itself. (I used to steal them from kitchen and relished it when I was reading comics...vadu and comics - my big favourite!!!) We used to buy them in Jayanagar 4th block complex. (Since it was summer holidays for my school, my father and I used to visit City Market and get them. After bargaining and hassle we would return home victorious!)

Tender green mangoes (vadu mangai / mavadu)

There used be a seller specially for mangoes whose stall used to be in a corner, inside the shopping complex at Jayanagar. My mother used to specifically request him to get them from City Market, Bangalore. My father used to often make rounds to Jayanagar 4th block complex to remind that mango seller. In those days when telephones, hand phones, texting and Internet was non-existent, these frequent trips were the only device which served as reminders. When finally the mangoes arrived, the activity began. The huge jaadis (traditional ceramic pickle jars) were brought down from the loft and cleaned. I was asked to look after them  when they were sun-drying during the early summer of Bangalore. The mangoes were carefully washed and allowed to dry on its own. I cannot forget the task of wiping the mangoes (inspite of them being dry...oh ho! pati...) to remove any leftover water  - it was this task that entertained me during my summer school holidays. Castor oil and turmeric were added to the tender mangoes and were stored in the huge jaadi. Later salt was added to the mavadu.

Jayanagar 4th block shopping complex (photo courtesy: AravindTeki) 

Everyday morning, after her bath, my grandmother used to religiously open the jaadi (whose mouth was covered with a Veshti  (dhoti) cloth) to give it a gentle stir to arise the sleeping mavadu. The mavadu used to respond to that gentle stir and would start to give out sweet juices. The strong aroma once the jaadi is opened is still lingering in my memory. Before the red chilles were grounded and added to the salted mavadu, I used to get few to taste. Infact there used to be a little quantity taken out from the main storage jaadi and thus the usage would begin.

Once the vadu mangai would be ready the magical love story would begin. I am a big fan of pickles, especially vadu mangai and will certainly call it a magical love story. A story between a person and a beautiful tender mango. I have eaten it for breakfast with idlis, dosas, uppumas. Lunch would never be complete without a vadu. Even during my school days, my mother made sure that a tiny tender green vadu would peek out from my thayir sadam dabba. (I would consume the thayir sadam first and then suck the vadu mangai slowly). Dinner would definitely be with a vadu mangai. Even the vadu mangai jalam (the spicy, salted mango juices) would not be wasted. They would be relished with plain rice, uppuma and even idlis!!! It was weird combination but who cared? I just LOVED vadu mangai....

Today, for the first time in Singapore, I found vadu mangai in a store at Buffalo Road. After getting my usual veggies, before the billing, I happen to catch the sight of beautiful tender mangoes deep down in a red crate. I smelt it and immediately my senses woke me and screamed at me that this was indeed the vadu managi. With a big smile I came home and started planning its journey.

I thought of recording each and every step and enjoying the magical journey. I don't know the origin of mangoes. It could be from any part of earth - still its charm would never diminish. All I know that I am going to enjoy this journey, recollecting the details from my childhood and trying to create the magic what my grandmother used to do.

Day 1:

The mangoes are carefully washed (if there are stalks with the mangoes do not hesitate to include them - yes the batch I bought did not have any!!!).  Don't forget to catch the sweet smell during this time.

Mavadu, after a good wash
Carefully lay them on a tea towel and allow them to dry. Allow the vadu mangai to dry completely.

Mavadu left for drying