Amba sauce. When I think about it, I feel utter love because it’s such a beautiful thing. If Amba were a man, I would run away with him. My first experience of this Iraqi sweet and sour mango condiment was as I sat on the harbour wall in the Crusader town of Acre north of Haifa in Israel. I was en route to the Bahá’í Gardens on the northern slope of Mount Carmel leading up to the golden-domed shrine of the Báb, the resting place of the Prophet Herald of the Bahá’í faith. It was hot so I stopped to buy some freshly pressed orange juice and a sabich sandwich, an Israeli classic comprised of freshly baked pillowy pitta wrapped around juicy slices of aubergine fried in olive oil, hard-boiled egg, a generous layer of garlicky hummus, crunchy pickles and lashings of amba sauce – as you might imagine, it was absolutely heavenly and quite a lot sexy. I would forsake all the jewels in the world just for a taste of it.
2 very ripe mangos, skin and stones removed
Juice of two medium limes
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 glove of garlic, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon turmeric
How I make it
Whizz up the mango pulp with the lime juice until you get a silky, smooth consistency.
Place a frying pan on a medium heat, add a glug of olive oil and, when it’s come up to temperature, add the garlic and the spices stirring all the time so they don’t catch. When the spices are fully dissolved and toasty, add the mango pulp. Stir around for a minute and remove from the pan. Leave aside to cool.
A note on using fenugreek seeds. These little devils are super pungent, so double wrap them in a plastic bag and seal. Because I buy all my spices in bulk from an Indian supermarket, I double wrap them all and keep them in huge sealed containers. It’s a good habit to get into to avoid spending a fortune on supermarket brands.