Mango|Amba Khatta Curry

By Published On: 13 Oct '23Last Updated: 9 Apr '24

A fantastic vegan side or main, this Mango|Amba Khatta Curry is flavoursome, light and satisfying. Serve with roti or paratha but equally delicious with hot steamed rice.

Fruit curries are an important part of Indian cuisine and this traditional Orissa (Odisha) Mango|Amba Khatta Curry packs a flavour punch, is made with green mangoes and Panch Phoron (a Bengali 5 spice blend). It is an exceptionally mouth melting and finger-licking sweet-sour raw mango curry. A real taste of Orissa in Australia! Wowwww!

To experience the diversity of India’s culinary landscape, your best bet is to be invited to someone’s house. That’s exactly what happened recently when we were invited to our friend’s place, whose parents had arrived from Odisha (formerly Orissa) for a holiday in Sydney.

Born and raised in Orissa, N’s parents were the first Odia couple we have ever met. Both collectively along with N treated us to a feast and little did we know we would get to experience several traditional Odia vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes over one relaxing evening.

Thank you Bharati and Krishna for inspiring me with your most delicious, flavoursome Odia version of Mango|Amba Khatta Curry. The other dishes were equally sumptuous!

Just by way of information, Odisha was formerly called Orissa and is known as the temple state of India. The state’s name was officially changed from Orissa to Odisha in late 2011.

Odisha is located in the North-East of India and is surrounded by Jharkand and West Bengal to the North and North-East, Bay of Bengal to the East and by the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to the South, while Chjattisgarh lie in the west.

Odia also spelt Oriya is the most commonly used and the official language of Odisha. It is interesting to note that more than 80% of the people speak Hindi. Bengali, Urdu and Telugu are also spoken and widely understood.

The cuisine of Orissa is simple yet packed with flavour and uses less spices compared to other regional Indian cuisines. My hosts informed me that the food of Orissa bears many similarities to the food from the neighbouring state of Bengal. Mustard oil is the oil of choice for some dishes and the flavour comes from a combination of herbs and spices (panch phoron) used in the seasoning.

This super simple Mango|Amba Khatta Curry is a gluten-free Odia version of a Sweet and Sour Mango Curry which I have previously shared, which is a long time reader favourite.

what is khatta?

A Khatta is a popular completely plant based vegan accompaniment that originates from the state of Orissa|Odisha. If you ever want to taste the flavours of Odisha cuisine, this Mango|Amba Khatta is a must try.

This mango khatta is one of the popular Prasadam (religious offering in Hinduism) dishes in Orissa. Khatta is one of the 56 types of Mahaprasad offered every day to Lord Jagannath during the time of worship in the temple of Puri, located in Odisha|Orissa. It is said that all these items are prepared in the kitchens of the temple. First this prasadam is offered to the deities and then distributed among the devotees as a form of blessing.

Raw mangoes play a starring role in this mango|amba khatta and the seasoning of ‘panch phoron’ (blend of 5 spices) in my opinion, makes a powerful statement.

To put it simply, mango|amba Khatta is a delicious vegan curry, relish or chutney, if you like. My Odia hosts informed me that it is not uncommon for this relish to be also called as ‘Mango Khatta Curry’ in Orissa as the consistency of the khatta can be varied depending on whether you are serving with roti or steamed rice. Make the sauce thicker if serving with roti and thinner if serving with hot steamed rice!

The name of the khatta varies depending on the vegetables used (green mangoes, tomatoes, pineapple etc.,). Here you will find mango|amba khatta recipe made with raw green mangoes in Odia style.

Mangalore Brahmins also make mango curries with semi-ripe mangoes using jaggery and some spices during religious festivals.

This Odia style Mango|Amba Khatta is a vegan and gluten-free version of mango khatta, as it is done without adding asafoetida (hing). It is very easy to prepare at home as it uses only a few ingredients.

what does mango khatta taste like?

Fruit based curries are rarely served in Indian restaurants in Australia and for that matter barely known outside family homes. This mango|amba khatta is wholesome and flavoursome and if you want to taste it, your best bet is to try it at home! Don’t bother searching on any restaurant menus and if you find it, I would love to hear from you!!

Mango khatta has complex flavours with sweet and mildly spicy notes. Although I have not tasted many khattas, I believe there are some minor regional variations and not every khatta tastes the same.

Firstly, mango khatta is packed with flavour as it is infused with a tempering (aka seasoning) made up of ‘panch phoron’ (a blend of 5 spices used in Bengali and Bangladeshi cooking) and fresh curry leaves.

Second, it tastes sweet as jaggery (palm sugar) is used as a traditional sweetener. Refined sugar may also be used instead of refined sugar.

Third, it is slightly spicy as it is seasoned with Kashmiri chillies for a little chilli kick. The number of chillies can be tweaked to suit every taste – decrease for a milder taste and increase for a spicier taste.

This mango khatta tastes delicious if it is left to mature for a couple of days before consuming, as the flavours will permeate into the mango flesh, making it succulent and flavoursome.

One thing I know is that even though many people love khattas, there are also many people who do not like them as they do not have a sweet tooth and do not like sweet relishes|chutneys.

how to serve mango khatta

  • Serve 4-5 tbsp. as an accompaniment with roti or paratha.
  • It pairs well with hot steamed jasmine or basmati rice and papadums.
  • Delicious served as a part of a vegetarian or non-vegetarian thali (selection of various dishes served on one platter).
  • Serve with curd rice (recipe to come to Deliciously Indian) as an accompaniment for a tasty and satisfying vegetarian meal option.
  • If you are working from home, dunk your white or seeded bread into this delicious sauce for a tasty lunch idea.

the ingredients

Although some curries call for a lot of spices, this Odia style Mango|Amba Khatta is uses only few ingredients and is prepared in quick time.

In this recipe, the only unusual ingredient used is ‘Panch Phoron” (blend of 5 spices). It is unusual for a South Indian pantry to stock ‘panch phoron’ because South Indians use the same spices but individually.

South Indian cooks would probably season this curry with a little of each of mustard seeds, cumin seeds, kalonji (nigella seeds), fenugreek seeds and fennel seeds, although there are many minor regional variations to seasonings. Every household has their own secret recipe to perk up their simple curries and believe me you, no two seasonings are the same.

There is no need to make a special trip to the Indian grocers, just check out below what you can easily substitute from your pantry for ‘panch phoron’!

  • Green mangoes – Try and buy mangoes that are mature but not ripe, as the curry gets its sweet and sour notes from mature mangoes. Simply put, mangoes should be slightly tart and slightly sweet. A fully ripe mango will yield a sweet khatta curry but a mature unripe green mango will yield a sweet and sour khatta. I have used unpeeled green mangoes that I have cut into big chunks. Find at: your local green grocer or some Woolworths, Coles supermarkets. Also try Harris Farm markets.
    • What mangoes to use? I have usedFalanggreen mangoes from my local green grocer ‘Panettas’ at ‘Macquarie Centre’. These green mangoes are quite sweet and unfortunately, had no acidity in them. If you are using these mangoes, please add either white wine vinegar (1 – 2 tbsp.) or tamarind (I used the pulp of two marble size balls of tamarind – see NOTE 2) to taste, to make a balanced sweet and sour dish. Add the pulp to the mangoes in Step 1, along with salt, turmeric powder and water.
    • You may also tryNam Doc Maiwhich is another variety of green mangoes that is also sold here. If you use these mangoes, please taste first and if you need to add a bit of tang, then add white wine vinegar or tamarind to taste. I am yet to test the recipe with these mangoes.
  • Turmeric powder – Gives a golden hue and earthy flavour to the curry in the absence of any other ground spice. Little is more – add only what’s called for in the recipe.
  • Jaggery powder – A traditional sweetener that gives a dark brown (almost black) finished dish. Make a syrup to the consistency of a thread that takes approx. 15-20 minutes on medium low heat (see point 2 in Step-by-Step Instructions below on how to make the syrup). Also, test the consistency of the syrup (see point 3 in Step-by-Step Instructions below). Overcooking can make the syrup very thick. The syrup thickens when cooled.
  • Panch phoron – Called as ‘Indian Five Spice or ‘Bengali Five Spice blend’ adds such a beautiful flavour to this mango khatta. It is a mix of 5 different whole seeds used in Odia cooking that includes – mustard, cumin, kalonji (nigella seeds), fenugreek and fennel seeds. Find at: All Indian grocery stores sold in 100g packs. My favourite brand is ‘Saurbhi’ but any brand works fine. Substitute: If you do not wish to make a special trip to the Indian grocers, you can easily make this spice mix at home by combining 1 teaspoon each of fennel seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds and Nigella seeds (kalonji). Add 1 tsp. – 2 tsp. of this spice mix to the tempering, put the remaining spice mix in an airtight container and store away from sunlight, for a later use.
  • Curry leaves – A flavour bomb. Use the leaves only of two sprigs. Stay away once you add the curry leaves as they will spit once they come in contact with hot oil. Important: Add the leaves into the hot oil only, as they release their flavour only in hot oil.
  • Kashmiri chillies – For a little chilli kick. Split each chilli into two pieces and watch closely after you add them to the seasoning. They are ready when they turn dark red (takes only a couple of seconds as the oil has reached its temperature). Burnt chillies impart a bitter flavour into the curry. If the chillies are burnt, start the tempering all over (its a torture but fully worth it)! Find at: All Indian grocery stores and some large Coles Supermarkets.
  • Oil – Mustard oil is traditionally used in this dish which gives it a unique flavour and fragrance. I have used canola oil as I do not stock mustard oil in my pantry and unless you use mustard oil regularly, there is little point in buying a bottle just for one use.

Step-by-step instructions

The full instructions to make this Mango|Amba Khatta is in the recipe card below, but here are some helpful tips to go along with the process photos.

Tip: I buy green mangoes from my local green grocer during Spring and early Summer (September to December). To achieve a sweet and sour final dish, the mangoes should be slightly tart and mature but not ripe. Taste the mangoes when you cut them. If they are not tart, add some white wine vinegar in Step 1 or tamarind (see NOTE 2 in the Recipe Card below) when you boil the mangoes, to get the tartness that you like.

This is what we are trying to achieve at every step:

wash, cut and cook unpeeled mangoes

1

Wash mangoes and pat dry with paper towel. Trim stalks and cut the cheeks off each side of the pit or seed. Discard the pit or seed. Cut each cheek into bite size chunks and place them in a medium size saucepan. Add salt, turmeric powder and water (and tamarind if using). Place on medium heat and cook for 8-10 minutes or until 65% cooked. Remove from heat and set aside.

Make the jaggery syrup

2

In a separate medium saucepan, add 4 tbsp. water and add approximately 150g-200g dark jaggery powder (depending on the tartness of mangoes – tart mangoes need more jaggery) and stir to combine. Place on medium heat and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until syrupy as shown in the photo below. Remove from heat and cool for 10 minutes.

test the syrup consistency

3

Take a teaspoon of syrup and cool slightly. Dip index finger into the syrup and using your index and thumb pinch the syrup. If the syrup stretches like a thread, then it is ready. If it is not, simmer for a further 5 minutes or until the syrup gets a thread consistency. Syrup with a thread consistency (bottom left image). Syrup without thread consistency (bottom right image).

add mangoes to the syrup

4

Once the syrup is cool, add cooked mangoes to the syrup (do not add any mango water as yet). Stir to combine. Add mango water in small increments until you get a thick gravy. Set aside while preparing tempering.

prepare the tempering (aka seasoning)

5

Heat oil in a tempering dish or a small frying pan on medium. When the oil is shimmering, add punch phoron and sizzle for 3 to 5 seconds. Add the curry leaves (only leaves) and splutter. Add slit Kashmiri chillies and fry till dark red (takes only a second or two). Remove from heat and set aside.

add tempering to mango mixture

6

Add the tempering to the mango mixture. Stir to combine. Mango Khatta is ready!

If you have tried this recipe, I would love to hear your feedback. Please be sure to rate the recipe and/or leave a comment below. If you want to see more recipe inspirations, you can follow me on Instagram @lavina_mendonsa.

Mango|Amba Khatta Curry

Catherine Lavina Mendonsa
A sublime vegan side or main, that is absolutely packed with flavour. This Mango|Amba Khatta Curry does not require lots or skill or time. Serve with roti or paratha but equally delicious with hot steamed rice. 
Prep Time 20 minutes