Amchoor (pronounced AHM-choor), also spelled "aamchur," is a citrusy seasoning made from dried unripe mangos. Produced in India, amchoor, also referred to as mango powder, is used both to flavor foods such as fruit salads, curries, and dals and to tenderize meats, poultry, and fish.
To make amchoor, early-season mangos are harvested while still green and unripe. Most commonly, they are harvested from uncultivated trees growing in the wild or collected from the ground, rather than removed from the agriculturally supervised plantings of mangoes that are grown for export.
Once harvested, the green mangoes are peeled, thinly sliced, and sun-dried. The dried slices, which are light brown and resemble strips of woody bark, can be purchased whole and ground by the individual at home, but the majority of the slices processed in this way are ground into fine powder and sold as ready-made amchoor.
Amchoor is a fruity spice with a tart, astringent, but not unpleasant flavor. It lends an acidic brightness to the foods it is applied to. Amchoor is a predominant flavoring agent in north Indian cookery, where it is used to flavor samosa and pakora fillings, stews and soups, and fruit salads and pastries. It is added to marinades for meat and poultry as an enzymatic tenderizer, and lends its sourness to chutneys and pickles.
Chat masala, a tart Indian spice blend used to season fruit salads and juices, salads, and a variety of snacks, contains amchoor as a predominant ingredient. The spice itself blends well with other spices, particularly chili, coriander, and ginger.
Lemon, lime, and other citrus juices may be substituted for amchoor in dishes where the addition of a liquid component will not interfere with the consistency or texture. Amchoor may be found in Indian markets or ordered online from specialty spice retailers. If you'd like to try making your own chat masala blend, consider using the recipe that follows.
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon amchoor
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt (or black salt, if desired)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pinch asafetida powder (or replace with 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1. Place a dry skillet over medium heat until hot. Pour coriander seeds into hot skillet and stir for 1 to 2 minutes, until seeds are fragrant and toasted. Remove to a small bowl to cool and repeat with cumin seeds and then with fennel seeds. When seeds are cool, grind in a spice grinder or coffee mill used only for grinding spices.
2. Combine ground spices with remaining ingredients and place in a glass jar with a tightly fitting lid. Store in a cool, dry place away from direct light.