As versatile as it is delicious, amba is unlike any other hot sauce. In our home we especially like to have it on hand during the summertime because it goes great with just about any grilled protein: chicken, steak, tofu or fish. It’s also nice to have for a grain bowl topping. Amba added to some yogurt with a little lemon juice also makes a perfect dip for vegetables or pita chips. Amba adds a tangy, fruity pop of heat to any dish.
3 pounds, or 4 large firm unripened mangoes
3 tablespoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons oil
6 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 medium Fresno chili, seeded and diced fine, or to taste
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground fenugreek
2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
2 teaspoons ground cumin
Pinch of cayenne, or to taste
3 tablespoons brown sugar, or to taste (or substitute your preferred sweetener)
1 cup water
1/2 cup white vinegar
1. Peel the mangoes, then slice the fruit around the pit. Dice into small cubes; they do not have to be even or perfect. Add the diced mango to a large nonreactive bowl. Add the salt to the mango and toss until everything is well-coated. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for one day.
2. After the mango has cured in the fridge, over medium-low heat add oil to a large pot or deep sauté pan. Add the mustard seeds to the oil, and when they begin to make popping sounds, add the finely minced garlic and diced chili. Sauté until softened and fragrant, but before anything begins to brown, about two to three minutes. Add the remaining spices: turmeric, fenugreek, coriander, cumin and cayenne. Stir and sauté for an additional minute.
3. Add the mango, brown sugar and water to the pot. Stir, increase the heat and bring the liquid up to a simmer. Simmer for five to six minutes, or until the mango has softened and the liquid has slightly reduced. Turn off the heat and add the vinegar to the mango mixture. Taste and adjust to your liking by adding more vinegar, sugar, salt or spices if needed.
4. Using an immersion blender or blender, puree the mango to the desired consistency. I like mine a little chunky with about half of the mango pieces still intact. If you would like your amba smoother, purée it for longer and add water to thin it out. Note that amba will thicken slightly as it cools.
5. Once cooled, transfer the amba to jars and refrigerate. Amba keeps well in the refrigerator for about two to three weeks. Makes three pints.
Sonya Sanford is a Los Angeles- based chef, food stylist and writer.
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