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Botanical Name: Mangifera indica
Hindi Name: Amchur
The spice amchur is unripe or green mango fruits, which have been sliced, sun dried and powdered. The name is derived from the Hindi 'aam', meaning mango.
The mango tree is native to the India-Myanmar-Malaysia region, and is one of the oldest cultivated fruits. In India it has grown for over 4,000 years. 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 retains a special place in Hindu mythology and ritual. Gautam Buddha was presented with a mango grove, and the Mughal emperor, Akbar, ordered 100,000 mango trees to be planted.
The unripe fruits are sliced and dried after which they attain a light brown colour and a rough surface. These dried slices are also powdered finely, which then has a slightly fibrous texture, and a beige colour. Amchur has a sour-sweet taste, and is slightly resinous.
The composition of amchur is as follows:
It is rich in citric acid, and hence is most famous as a chutney or pickle ingredient.
The use of amchur is confined chiefly to Indian cookery, where it is used as an acid flavouring in curries, soups, chutney, 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 tenderising qualities as lemon or lime juice. The unripe fruit of mango is acidic, astringent and antiscorbutic.
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