MORAMBA – the traditional raw mango jam made in hundreds of homes all over Maharashtra does sound a bit like the Merengue a Latin American dance , and with its soft chunks of mango in a velvety thick syrup with hints of saffron and cardamom, it does have a bit of the same exotic . Made out of Rajapuri Mango, this jam sits in fat glass jars all year long, on many a kitchen shelf, to be taken out little at a time as a special meal time treat. Some people like to make it as soon as the mango first arrives but I prefer to make it later in the season just before the rains set in. At this time, the mango is a little less sour but still tart enough to impart a delicate sweet and sour taste to this jam.
I haven’t made this jam for a long time, especially since all of us at home are always watching our waist lines, but over the weekend, I met up with cousins for a family wedding and realised that all of us were actually in the same place at the same time for the first time in fifty years. This brought back a flood of memories: the times when we used to spend summer in my grandma’s house and watch her stir magic into her pickles as jam. My grandma was known for her tasty food and she was also known for her plain speaking. I can never forget one summer when I was pestering her and she warned me to back off. It was a hot summer afternoon and all of us were restless – the house was getting too small for all of us but it was too hot for anyone to step outside
“Stop annoying me or I’ll scald you,” she threatened, waving the spoon that she had dipped in the sizzling hot oil to remove the puri.
“Do it,” I challenged, who as a bratty four year old was convinced that adults very rarely carried out threats particularly ones that could potentially harm a child. Little did I know that she was not one to make empty threats and becore I knew it, I felt a warm burning sensation on the back of my palm. I was shocked and even more horrified when the skin began to rise into an angry welt. Before my howls could bring down the entire neighbourhood, my aunt grated some raw potato and made a poultice to bring down the swelling. The burn got well soon enough, the scar diminished over time but the lesson remained for life.
Last week, as the summer is slowly coming to a close, my daughter asked me to make some Moramba so I went down to my favourite haunt at Bhaji Gully and picked up two kilo of raw mango. The Rajapuri mango that is best suited for this dish is almost on its way out so I was lucky to still get some at the fag end of the season.
Here’s what I did.
- 2 kg peeled and diced raw mango
- 4 kg sugar
- 4- 8 strands of saffron
- 10 g coarsely ground cardamom
- Peel and dice the mango into even bite sized squares. Rinse to remove the grit and stones and allow to dry on cloth
- Steam the washed and dried off pieces of mango in a colander till soft to the touch. Remove from the colander and spread on a dry cloth and allow to cool.
- When cool, add to a hot thick syrup made up of 4 kg sugar and half the amount of water. Allow the mixture to boil and bubble till the froth on the top slightly changes colour or till the syrup is of the consistency of thick honey.
- Add some strands of saffron and around 10 g of crushed cardamom for added flavour. I even added 1-2 cloves for that added zing.
- Allow the jam to cool before storing it away in an air tight glass jar.
This jam is easy enough to make though it does take a lot of time. Also to avoid getting daunted by the vicious looking bubbles that threaten to escape, one should take a large enough pot.