Mango Amba Sauce

Amba sauce

The Spruce / Anita Schecter

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Cooling Time: 8 hrs
Total: 8 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
149 Calories
4g Fat
29g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 149
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 6%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 327mg 14%
Total Carbohydrate 29g 10%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Total Sugars 22g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 69mg 345%
Calcium 38mg 3%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 354mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Amba is a popular Middle Eastern pickled mango condiment that's particularly common in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. It's similar to Indian mango chutney.

In Iraqi cuisine, amba is often served over seafood, on kababs and eggs. In Saudi Arabian cuisine it's frequently served on an appetizer platter with bread, cheese, eggs, and various meats. Amba is commonly served as a topping in Israeli cuisine, usually for falafel, shawarma, and the very popular sabich sandwich.

Right up there in popularity with falafel sandwiches, sabich includes fried eggplant and hard boiled eggs stuffed into a pita pocket along with Israeli salad of diced cucumbers and tomatoes, hummus, tahini and a good amount of amba drizzled over the top. That combination of ingredients may sound a bit unusual if you've never tried it, but it's actually a remarkable flavor match up and the sweet, sour and spicy mango sauce ties it all together. If a more traditional American sandwich is your preference, try the amba over a sliced turkey deli sandwich.

Traditional spices for amba are mustard seeds, cumin, sumac (which has a distinct lemon flavor) and fenugreek, with its slightly bitter flavor and sweet smell. Brown sugar balances the heat from chili peppers and cayenne for the right amount of sweet and spicy. 

Note that traditional amba sauce recipes usually call for unripened green mangoes that you should then ripen in the sun for several days. This recipe is a more practical shortcut using ripe fresh or canned unsweetened mangoes.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds

  • 1 hot chili pepper, seeded and diced

  • 5 ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted, and diced

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar

  • 1 cup water, or as needed

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground sumac

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste, based on heat tolerance

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Heat canola oil in a large pan over medium-low heat. Add mustard seeds and, when they sputter, turn heat to low and add diced chili pepper. Cook for another minute.

  3. Add diced mango to pan, along with lemon juice.

  4. Add brown sugar and water, in 1/4 cup increments, and stir until sugar has dissolved.

  5. Continue cooking and stirring until all mango chunks are tender. Continue adding water as needed.

  6. Stir in ground cumin, fenugreek, ground sumac, cayenne pepper, and salt.

  7. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt to your liking.

  8. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Pour into a lidded jar or container and refrigerate.

  9. Allow to sit in refrigerator at least overnight to develop flavors. Use as a condiment as desired.