“Arrey Vittala, appe midi hadaila ki na?” (Arrey Vittala, have you asked for the appe midi?)
Appe midi is a variety of the tiny mangoes used for pickles. It has a specific tangy taste that makes it stand out from the other varieties and the pickles made of the raw mangoes has a heavenly taste.
“Aaji Sanje melta Amma” (We will get it today evening, Mother).
That was my grand-uncle Vittal Shanbhag. He was getting out of the house in his usual Dagla-Panche-Shalya attire.
“Pijjamma, appe midi mhallari Kasane?” (Pijjamma what is appe midi?)
Great grand mom is Pijjamma in Konkani. And this was me and I was curious about this conversation.
“Cherda, appe midi ek jaathi sana ambuli. Mastha dikkat astha. Tajje nonche layka jattha” (Baby, Appe midi is a mango variety that has a specific tangy taste and the pickles made out of it is very nice)
This was a conversation between me and my great grandmother in her house in Saligrama, a tiny village close to Kundapura. As we were talking, she was wiping huge Bharni/Jaadi, (ceramic jars) with a dry cloth. As her wrinkled hands were moving inside the jar, her glass bangles seemed to give a sweet jingle like background tune. The stones in her Nathu, Bulaak and Bugadi (traditional nose and ear rings that Konkani or Marathi women wore commonly in those days) seem to be shining and spreading a happy light.
I was all of eight and like any kid of that age had lots of questions to ask. I wanted to know everything about the pickle making process.
“Pijjamma, why are you wiping an already clean and dry jar?”
“Dear, before we put pickles in this and it should be absolutely dry, else it can get spoilt; worms can form.”
“Why do you want such huge jars Pijjamma?”
With a fond look in her eyes she replied “Oh, these are given to me by my mom. The pickles I make and store in this will come for many months.”
“So, will you prepare the pickles right away? I want to see.”
“Once your Vittalajja brings the mangoes, we will have to wash it, wipe it dry and then marinate in salt for two weeks at least. Side by side, I will have to sun dry the red chillies for a couple of days at least. Then make a powder with red chillies and other masala powders like methi, mustard seeds, asafetida etc. I will show you when I make, ok? You can tell your amma after that.”
In a couple of weeks Pijjamma’s pickles were now in the huge Bharni or the ceramic jars. During our lunch and dinner after that, the most interesting and favorite spot in the plate was the corner one where the appe midi pickle was served. I used to finish off the pickle gravy first keeping aside the mango piece. Once lunch or dinner was over, I would wash the mango piece well, run outside, sit on that swing made of jute rope and a few old sarees of great grand-mom and keep savoring it slowly, while enjoying the tangy taste of the marinated mango.
These days I buy Appe midi pickles from a nearby Mangalore stores. Each time I have the pickle from my small Bharni, it takes me back to those holidays I spent at my great grandmother’s house in the village.
A visit to my nearby Mangalore stores gets me my favourite pickle. If you are a DIY kind of person then here is a link for you on how to make your own appe midi pickle.