The spice amchur is unripe or green mango fruits which have been sliced and sun dried. The name comes from Hindi am, mango. The spice is either whole or ground and sometimes seasoned with turmeric. The mango tree is native to the India-Burma-Malaysia region and is one of the oldest cultivated fruits. In India it has grown for over 4,000 years; the various uses of the fruit are probably ancient. After the European explorations during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, it has spread to all parts of the tropical and sub-tropical world, especially Africa. The mango, apart from its place as a fresh fruit is most famous as a chutney or pickle ingredient.
The dried slices are light brown with a rough surface. Ripe mango slices are also dried and are orange brown. Amchur powder is finely ground but with a slightly fibrous texture. It is beige in colour.
Bouquet: Sour-sweet, warm and slightly resinous.
The use of amchur is confined chiefly to Indian cookery, where it is used as an acid flavouring in curries, soups, chutneys, marinades and as a condiment. The dried slices add a piquancy to curries and the powder acts as a souring agent akin to tamarind. It is particularly useful as an ingredient in marinades, having the same tenderizing qualities as lemon or lime juice. However, where, for instance, three tablespoons of lemon or lime juice are required, one teaspoon of amchur will suffice. Chicken and fish are enhanced by amchur and grilled fish on skewers, machli kabab, is well worth trying.
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