Amba is a fermented mango condiment made from firm unripe mangoes, spices and peppers placed in a jar. A salty brine is poured over the ingredients and the jar is sealed and set aside to ferment for over a week. Once it has fermented sufficiently, the amba is pureed to the desired level of chunkiness. It has a spicy, fermented, sour flavor.
Amba can be made for immediate use by cooking the mango and spices with vinegar. Another method used to make Amba is by fermenting it in the sun. Sliced mangoes are salted then placed in jar. The jar is left to ferment in the sun for several days. The mango is then removed from the jar and laid out to dry in the sun for some hours. When the mango has dried, it is cooked with sugar and spices.
Foods that are commonly paired with Amba are falafels, shawarma, meat and seafood.
Amba is often compared to chutney and achar. The three are similar in some way but still different. Chutney is made from fresh fruit not fermented and has a tangy flavor. Amba has a more sour taste and is creamier than chutney which often has larger pieces of fruit in it. Achar is a pickled condiment from India. Like amba, it is sour but there are sweet variations and the spices used to make anchar are different.
Origin & Cultural Significance
It is believed that amba was originally created by a Jewish Iraqi family living in India. It made its way to Israel in the 40’s and 50’s by way of Jewish traders. It is staple condiment in Iraq and other middle eastern countries like Israel, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
- Firm, unripe mango - 1
- Kosher salt – 2 tsp
- Olive oil – 1 tbsp
- Garlic cloves, chopped finely - 2
- Small red or green chili – 1
- Mustard seed - ½ tsp
- Turmeric ground – 1 tsp
- Ground fenugreek - ¼ tsp
- Ground cumin seed – ½ tsp
- Ground coriander seed – ½ tsp
- Aleppo pepper – ½ tsp
- Brown sugar – 1 tbsp
- Water – ½ cup
- Apple cider vinegar – 2 tbsp
- Peel and cut the mango into 1/2 inch pieces.
- Place in a small bowl, add salt, then toss to combine. Set aside.
- In a saucepan with a lid, add your olive oil and heat on medium.
- Once the oil has warmed up add the garlic and chili pepper and cook until the garlic is just starting to change color.
- Add all the spices and coat with them with the oil – heating for about a minute until they are fragrant.
- Once your spices are fragrant, add the water and vinegar, stirring to combine
- Add the mango and salt mixture along with any juices in the bowl.
- Mix well, then place the lid on the saucepan and allow to gently simmer for 10-12 minutes over medium low heat, or until just caramelized.
- Take off the heat and allow to cool before eating.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 53Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 317mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 1gSugar: 7gProtein: 1g