Food - Drink
The Middle Eastern Condiment Made With Pickled Mango
By CLAIRE REDDEN
Amba is a pickled mango condiment that is popular across diasporic Jewish communities in the Middle East, from India to Iraq and Israel to Palestine. Though it was brought to Israel by Iraqi Jewish immigrants in the 1950s, amba is marketed as Iraqi or Indian, and can be found in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean restaurants.
The first step to making amba is fermenting mango, which is done for at least five days for the deepest flavor possible; then, the mango slices are left to dry, seasoned, simmered, and placed back in the fermentation jar. A quicker method involves boiling the mango in a mix of water and vinegar, which ferments the fruit in about an hour.
Traditional Indian versions of amba use fenugreek, turmeric, chili, and mustard seeds, but some cooks will add vinegar and sour sumac for tanginess, garlic and cumin for savoriness, and agave for sweetness. Depending on your tastes, you can make the sauce into a smooth puree or aim for a chunky, salsa-like consistency.
Food stalls will serve amba as a condiment with sabich (a fried eggplant pita sandwich), hard-boiled eggs, tahini, chopped salad, or as a side for French fries. Its deeply fermented flavors and spices makes it a great pairing for most proteins, and it's even suited for grilling alongside meat, seafood, tofu, or roasted with veggies.