Whether you call it ‘Aam ka chunda’ in Hindi or raw mango jam in English, this spicy preserve is sure to tantalise your tastebuds. ‘Chunda’ is essentially a sweet, sour and mildly spiced raw mango preserve from Gujarat. Its name is derived from the word ‘chhundo’ meaning ‘crushed’ in Gujarati.
In Maharashtra, the state I grew up in in India, many households make a variation of chunda called ‘sakharamba’, which literally means sugar-mango in Marathi. My grandmothers though, always made ‘gulamba’, which literally translates to jaggery-mango, when I visited them during the school summer holidays growing up in India.
Traditionally chunda is made by sun-drying raw mango pulp with sugar and spices in a lidded jar for a good 7-8 days. The jar is given a good stir daily before leaving it out under the strong Indian sun. By the 8th day the melted sugar and mango pulp infused with spices transforms into a lovely aromatic preserve that lasts throughout the summer.
My grandmothers would probably not have condoned this recipe had they been here today, as it’s an instant chunda recipe and not a traditional one. But what’s one supposed to do in a country like Britain where the sunshine is as elusive as a husband at washing-up time LOL. So there’s my excuse for giving this short-cut a try.
And it helped that one of my friends in the UK kindly offered me a box of raw Totapuri mangoes fresh from her family’s farm in India. Yes, Totapuri mangoes are ideal to make this preserve as they have a firm flesh and are sour enough to balance the sweetness.
Here are a few FAQs you may have with this recipe:
Q: What kind of raw mango should I use to make chunda?
A: You can use any kind of raw mango as long as it’s sour with non-fibrous and firm flesh. Indian mangoes like Totapuri and Rajapuri are ideal but you can use any local variety.
Q: What should the consistency of the chunda be?
A: I like chunda that has a translucent jam-like consistency; neither too firm nor too runny. Also, I like it best when the mango has a little bite to it. The chunda should be spreadable and glisten in its sugar syrup after cooking.
Q: How long does this preserve last?
A: It keeps for as long as you can make it last LOL. Jokes apart, the shelf life can be as long as a year if it’s kept in an airtight and moisture-free glass jar. Always sterilize the glass jar and pat it dry before filling it
Q: Can I adjust the sugar quantity if my mango is a bit on the sweeter side?
A: Totally. You can increase or reduce the sugar quantity to your taste.
Q: Can I add other spices like turmeric and asafoetida to this dish?
A: You can add turmeric, asafoetida as well as clove, and cinnamon bark to this dish but please make sure the flavours are not overpowering.
How to make this raw mango preserve called chunda?
- Before starting to make the chunda itself, I wash and pat dry a glass storage jar, then sterilise it in a preheated oven at 100 C for 10 mins. After removing from the oven I leave it to cool for at least 10 minutes.
- Then rinse and pat the mangoes dry. I used two large Totapuri mangoes.
- Peel away the mango skin and grate the flesh. When grating the mango try to grate in one direction to get long strands of the mango flesh. This will add texture to your mango preserve.
- Put the grated mango flesh along with 400g (2 cups) golden caster sugar into a heavy-bottomed pan. You can use any sugar you like. Cook the mixture over a low to medium flame, stirring often so as not to crystallise the sugar. The amount of sugar you use really depends on personal taste and how sour your raw mangoes are. If you like your chunda a bit tart, you can reduce the quantity of sugar.
- Initially, the sugar in the pan will melt and the mixture will look watery. However, as you keep stirring, it will start bubbling and begin to thicken up.
- As the mixture starts bubbling, add a couple of dried red chillies and continue stirring. This step is optional. At this stage, you can also optionally add a couple of cloves and cinnamon sticks. I didn’t add any sweet spices, just the chilli.
- Switch off the flame once the preserve has a jam-like consistency and is translucent. You don’t want to overcook this mixture as that would crystallise the sugar. You also want to have a little bite to your grated mango in the finished chunda. One way to test if the sugar syrup has achieved the right consistency and temperature is to hold a little bit between your thumb and index finger and stretch the sugar syrup. If you get a thread-like texture as you move your finger and thumb apart, that means the chunda is ready to take off the heat.
- Lastly, add 1 teaspoon each of red chilli powder and roasted cumin powder along with 1/2 a teaspoon of salt and mix well. To make roasted cumin powder, simply toast the cumin seeds on a flat pan like a tawa for a couple of minutes over a low flame. Then grind once cooled.
- Once cooled, transfer the chunda to the moisture-free airtight glass jar that was previously sterilised.
- Store in the fridge to ensure it lasts throughout the summer. It will keep for 4-6 weeks at room temperature.
Enjoy this chunda as an accompaniment to roti, chapati, theplas and papads. My family loves it in wraps, sandwiches and parathas.
Raw Mango Preserve / ChundaCourse: Side dish, AccompanimentCuisine: Gujrati, IndianDifficulty: Easy
540g grated raw and sour mango (2 large Totapuri mangoes)
400g golden caster sugar
1 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
2 whole dried Kashmiri red chillies
1 tsp roasted and ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
- Rinse and pat the mangoes dry.
- Peel away the mango skin and grate the flesh.
- Put the grated mango flesh and sugar into a heavy-bottomed pan. Cook the mixture over a low to medium flame, stirring often so as not to crystallise the sugar.
- As the mixture starts bubbling, add the dried red chillies and continue stirring.
- Switch off the flame once the preserve has a jam-like consistency and is translucent.
- Lastly, add the red chilli powder along with roasted cumin powder, salt and mix well.
- Transfer to an airtight jar once cooled.
- Store in the fridge for up to a year.
- Wash and pat dry the glass containers and spoons used to prepare and cook this dish. Before cooking the dish, wash and sterilise an airtight glass jar to store the chunda. Make sure the jar is moisture free. Always use a dry steel spoon to serve chunda from the jar.
- Do not overcook the sugar syrup. Switch off the flame if the syrup can be stretched between the thumb and index finger.