Gunda keri athanu – bird lime pickle

I was absolutely amazed last weekend to find fresh gunda berries in the Edinburgh asian stores. Both Amma Spices and Krishna’s Foods had them.  It’s pretty rare to get them in Scotland. The berries are used by Gujaratis to make a very well loved pickle – they have a morish taste that goes very well with the raw mango and spice mixture.  They are also called Glue Berries, Cordia Dichotoma or Lasoora (south indian name). The reason for the glue name is that when the berries are cut open, the stone is surrounded in a very sticky glue like substance. The stone and glue has to be removed before the pickle can be made using salt, a very sharp knife and preferably with gloves on.

Normally I would just use the pre-bought pickle mixture but this time, I wanted a go at making it from fresh ingredients. As I never watched mum make this, I had to resort to a recipe from a Tarla Dal gunda keri.

A note about chillies. The Gujarati pickle is made using Reshampatti chillies. This gives a wonderful rich red colour and pack quite a punch heat wise. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to find it anywhere up here. And the powder pretty expensive online when you take shipping into account (available from Amazon or from Spices of India). I had to settle for using extra hot chilli powder which hopefully will not compromise the flavour – this can be found in all the normal UK supermarkets just look in the Asian groceries aisle as that stuff is a lot cheaper than the tiny quantities in the herb and spices sections.

For convenience I’m copying the recipe here but it’s totally belongs to Ms Dal.

Am sorry for the lack of photos but as I got into the making, I forgot to take photos.

Ingredients

I used half the quantities listed in the recipe.

For the gundas
30 gundas
1 tsp sea salt (khada namak) (I used Maldon sea salt)

To be mixed into a stuffing
1/4 cup grated raw mango (peek the mango, remove the stone, then grate as picture above)
1/2 cup split mustard seeds (rai na kuria) (yellow mustard seeds are readily available from Asda etc)
1/2 cup chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
1/2 tsp asafoetida (hing)
1/2 tsp split fenugreek seeds (methi na kuria)
1/2 cup mustard oil (substitute with sunflower oil if you are not willing to used mustard)
1/2 cup sea salt (khada namak), roasted and powdered


Method

  1. Sterilise a large jar. Preferably with a metal screw on lid. I stuck mine in the dishwasher without any detergent.
  2. Heat the mustard oil to smoking point then allow to cool completely. This step is not necessary if you use sunflower oil.
  3. Take the grated mangoes and add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon turmeric. Set aside for at least an hour. This helps to remove the water from the mangoes. After an hour, squeeze all the water out of the mangoes as well as you can.
  4. Wash, thoroughly dry with kitchen paper and then destalk the gundas. Cut a small cross at the top of each berry to help with the stone removal. Lightly crush the gundas using a pestle. (Do not forget to dry the berries. They little buggers kept slipping away from me as I had initially skipped that step. So I had to go back, dry them then hold them in a small bed of tissue before thwacking them not-so-lightly with my pestle. )
  5. Remove the inside seeds using a sharp knife. Since a sticky substance surrounds the seeds, it is advisable to dip the tip of the knife in the sea salt and then remove the gunda seeds. Once I had done this, I rubbed a small amount of salt to further remove the glue.
  6. Start preparing the stuffing:
    1. Lightly toast the mustard and fenugreek seeds, cool then crush in a pestle and mortar.
    2. Add the other spices and mix then well
    3. Add the grated mangoes and the cooled oil. Again mix well.
  7. Put half the mixture at the bottom of the jar.
  8. Tightly stuff each berry with about a teaspoon of mixture, add to the jar.
  9. If you have mixture left, spoon that on top. The berries should be completely covered. The oil in the mixture acts a preservative.
  10. The pickle will be ready in 3 to 4 days (just in time for this year’s Diwali, yippppeeee!).
  11. If the oil doesn’t cover the berries, then you can top it off the next day. Again, I went over board and seem to have added more than I needed.
    Every day, I open the jar and stir the berries around a bit.
    When I eat it, I’ll dry to make sure I’m not consuming too much of the oil.
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