Pickles in summer and songs on the same

Lata Jain

One of the most highly revered intellectuals of the Tollywood circuit is Tanikella Bharani and those who know him personally say that Goddess Saraswathi literally speaks when he starts uttering poetry or writes anything literary. Now, Tanikella has come up with a new track which goes ‘Avakaya mana andaridi, gongura pachadi manadhe le”

The song is all about the exclusive Andhra delicacies and their tastes. Reports say that many are enjoying this variety number and especially those in the NRI circles are feeling that closeness to Telugu land while listening to this track.

To Indians nothing says ‘home’ as simply and reassuringly as pickle. Whichever part of the country you might hail from, the yummy lip smacking pickles is likely to have been a part of your earliest food memories — as an incentive to make the staid combination of dal and rice seem more appetizing; as a counterpoint to the cold comfort of curd rice or as a tasty accompaniment capable of weathering long train journeys.

No Indian meal is complete without a smidgen of pickle. Although readymade pickles have made easy the painstaking process of pickle making, in many households, it is an annual ritual that is still treated with the ceremony it rightly deserves.

Among all the pickles in Coastal Andhra, two pickles find a special place in the hearts of the village folk. Gongoora pickle (Indian sorrel leaves / sour greens) is referred by poets as Andhra Matha meaning Mother of Andhra. The second one is Aavakaaya pickle (mango pickle). Aavakaaya can be called as the King of the Pickles. There are umpteen varieties in this pickle. Cut mango, full baby mango, jaggery mango, raw pulp mango, dried mango are some of the well known varieties.

In villages, making mango pickle is a social event involving most of the household, domestic helpers and neighbors. Planning starts at least a few weeks in advance with procuring the right variety of chilies and making them into powder, gingerly oil and paying advance amount to reserve fixed number of mangoes from specific trees, the fruits of which have proved over the years to retain the sour taste and hardness till the next season. On the D-day, mangoes are plucked fresh, washed, cloth dried and the muscular male member of the family or strongest of male domestic helpers take the responsibility of cutting the mangoes into uniform sized pieces with a huge cutter. While the womenfolk busy themselves in readying the spices and powders, the children sit around the mango cutter envying him and scrape the wafer thin layer on the stone of the mango with steel spoons. All the ingredients are mixed with the pieces immediately. The shelf life of the pickle, especially the mango pieces retaining the taste and hardness, is a matter of prestige to the women folk and a subject matter of discussion amongst them. The reputation of a housewife as an excellent pickle maker can be made or marred by the way mango pickle turns out to be.

In the multi-million rupees Indian pickle industry, with a big export market, 81 tones of assorted pickles to be made in a remote village in Visakhapatnam district may appear to be a drop in the ocean.

Pickle-making is taken up at Timmarajupeta in Achyutapuram mandal as one cluster in the rural areas segment. These people have been making pickles and selling them for some time now.

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