Atchar is a staple of South African cuisine but say the word overseas and many people will stare at you in puzzlement. Did you know it’s a proudly South African invention? Today MIAMI takes a look at the fascinating origins of Atchar, and how it came to mean so much in our tasty home-grown fare.
A Taste of Home
South Africa is a melting pot of different people, with our 11 official languages and complex slang that often puzzles international visitors- but they soon get won over by our friendly spirit. Did you know that Durban has one of the highest global Indian populations anywhere outside the Indian subcontinent?
As immigrants explore opportunities far from home, one of the first things they miss is the tasty home cooking that unites us all with fond memories of childhood and simple times. And so South African Atchar was born.
Strictly speaking, the word is Achar, derived from the Hindi word for pickles, and that’s exactly what comprises the heart of Atchar. Immigrants looking to replicate this delicious dish turned to the succulent fruit and veggie wealth growing around them, using green chillies and unripe local mangoes to recreate this sensational mix in their new homes- and a South African delicacy was born.
A Long History
The original Indian Achar, however, has an even longer history. It’s been traced to the 16th century, at the height of the mediaeval era in subcontinental India and was a favourite of the Mughal Empire and nearby Persians, too, who may be the original source of the word. Of course, pickling of all sorts has a very long history, being one of the first safe ways to preserve food from the harvest to eat later on. Traditionally, the fruit and veggies are preserved in vinegar or brine, just as our Atchar is today.
So not only is our delicious Miami mango Atchar something uniquely South African, it also has ties to ancient ways of preserving food and keeping hungry families full during cold winters, too.
Traditionally, you’ll use it as a side dish for curry meals, but you know South Africa- when we love something, we add it to everything! Today, you won’t find a more useful, versatile treat to keep in your kitchen. Great with curry or pap, small spoons of Atchar make for a fantastic pick-me-up in any dish or sauce, and you’re limited only by imagination when it comes to its culinary usages.
Being proud South Africans, it’s also a great sauce for a wors roll, bringing out the smokiness of the boerewors in a perfect mix. We’ve also invented tons of different, equally tasty Atchar blends to enjoy on every occasion.
What’s your favourite Miami Atchar? Did you know about this scrumptious pickle’s long history? We love hearing from you, so be sure to let us know!