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Posted by Elizebath Bijoy Monday, September 5, 2011

The tangy spice can add zing to your food. Read on to find out more... 

Mango is native to India and Southeast Asia, and is now widely cultivated for its fruit. In several cultures its fruits and leaves are ritually used in floral decorations, public celebrations and religious ceremonies. The legend says that Lord Buddha found peace in a mango grove.

Aam is a hindi word for mango and amchoor is nothing but powder or extract of the fruit. It is also referred to as 'mango' powder and is a spice made from green, unripe mangos, which are sliced, sun-dried and ground into a fine powder.

Amchoor has a pleasant sweet-sour aroma of driedfruit, astringent, but also sweet fruity flavour. The spice adds sour taste like tamarind. Infact it has qualities as lemon or lime juice and if you do not have amchur, substitute three tablespoons of lemon or lime juice for one teaspoon of amchur. Interestingly amchoor powder is made only in India.

With technological advances, Chef Sanjay Bahl says people have stopped making amchoor powder at their homes these days, "Getting raw mangoes, drying and slicing them is a tedious job and so everyone just buys them off the shelf," he says. He goes on to advice that one needs to be very careful while using this spice because if you go wrong it will leave a very sweet taste, "Not eveyone can handle a spice like this."

Storage isn't much of a problem for this spice except for that it should not be kept near strong smelling spices like cinnamon or bay leaf, which would affect the flavour says Executive chef Narendra Singh, Hilton.

A 'staple seasoning ingredient' as he terms this spice as, he feels a great way to use it would be as a part of a spice rub for grilled meats, "The sharp, acidic tang would definitely complement the smoky flavour of juicy, grilled meat," he says.

Summers are here and there are certain food ingredients that you cannot give a miss, amchoor being one of them says Executive Chef Zubin D'souza, Citrus Hotels. "It has a cooling effect and is great for digestion. Infact it is added to some of the summer drinks for the same reason." The chef's stronghold being Goan dishes usually adds amchoor in a lot of dishes he prepares, "There is a guava sorbet that I am fond of and prefer putting amchoor in it to enhance the flavour and get that tangy flavour," he says.


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