Appemidi (meaning raw unripe mango) is a mango that is endemic to Karnataka’s Western Ghats and is a tart, acidic mini mango variant that has a GI (Geographical indicator) tag in Karnataka.
There are about 40 variants of this mango each of which has its own taste including one that tastes like cumin. Typically harvested from trees in the forest or on the riverside, they are facing extinction due to excessive harvesting.
These acidic mangoes have several local variants and interestingly many have unique aromas with a smell like cumin (jeera), orange and even camphor (kapur) and several have raw orange flavour. Research has indicated that Arenuru and Kudige, two variants are most flavourful. Appemidi is a mango that is only eaten raw and pickled in its tender form and does not become a fruit.
A 2015 report titled Appemidi Delicious Pickling Mangoes of Karnataka by the ICAR-Indian Institute of Horticultural Research says, ‘The Western Ghat region of the country is home to whole fruited immature pickling varieties called ‘Appemidi’. The local populace who also has conserved them in their backyard after evaluating them for varied uses has selected some of these. Since, there is a large unexplored diversity several of the important ones have not yet been evaluated and conserved. An attempt was made to characterize, document and catalogue this mango germplasm under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) Programme. To clearly bring out the differences between the varieties, molecular characterization was used, and
barcodes have been developed. At present 150 varieties have been characterized.’
The mango’s unique taste and texture has been the subject of research and conservation efforts led by organisations like Central Institute for Subtropical Horticulture (CISH), Lucknow, Indian Institute for Horticulture Research, Bangalore and Forestry College of Sirsi, Karnataka. Octogenarian Beluru Subbanna Heggade has preserved over 100 appemidi mangoes and grows them at his home in Belur, in Shivamogga district. Another farmer, Mapalathota Subraya Bhat is also doing his bit in Markanja village, Dakshina Kannada district, to preserve as many varieties
of this mango.
The masala in which the mango is pickled is thicker than usual using a combination of mustard and chilli powders. This also makes it a great accompaniment with not just rice but also dosa, upma, idli and chapati. Little wonder then that Italian traveller Pietro della Valle had said that there is no match for the skill of the people of Sagar in making the best mango pickles. Once you taste the Appemidi from this region, you are guaranteed to be in culinary heaven.
Read the full story that first appeared in The New Indian Express dated August 8, 2021 here: