‘Almost’ Amba


Traditional amba is a sort of pickle condiment made from mango and spices. It originated in Iraq, but is also found in Israel and India, where it shows up in street food like falafel, shawarma, and sabich (a sandwich made of hard boiled eggs, eggplant, pickles, and tahini sauce).

I’m not ashamed to admit it: After reading about sabich and amba sauce, I became a little obsessed.

I’d never eaten either of these things, and I needed to know how they tasted. But it’s not like I can just fly off to Israel to eat a snack from a street vendor, so I experimented in my kitchen and made my own version. I call it ‘Almost’ Amba. Authentic? Nope. Delicious? Definitely.

‘Almost’ Amba

Makes 2 cups | Prep 10 minutes | Cook 1 hour | Whole30 approved

  • 1/2 tablespoon ghee or coconut oil

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 teaspoons whole mustard seeds

  • 2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds

  • 2 dried red chile peppers

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 1 green mango, peeled, cored, and cut into thin slices

  • juice of 1/2 medium orange (about 3 tablespoons)

  • 2/3 cup water


Prep the spices. Place the ghee in a large saucepan and heat it over medium-high, 3 minutes. Add the salt, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chile peppers, paprika, and turmeric to the pan and toast, about 2 minutes. (You might hear the mustard seeds “pop.” That means they’re happy!) Add the garlic and stir constantly until fragrant, another 30 seconds.


Cook the mango. Add the mango to the pan and stir to combine. Pour in the orange juice and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until mango is very tender and sauce is beginning to thicken, about 45-60 minutes.


Make it smooth. Working in batches, carefully transfer to blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Hold a dish towel over the lid of the blender to avoid splatters. (You could also transfer the amba to a heat-proof jar and purée it with a stick blender. Allow avors to meld in the refrigerator for about a day before eating. Store covered in the fridge for up 3 months.

Tasty Ideas

Use amba as a dipping sauce for raw veggies and grilled meats—it’s especially good combined with Tahini Dressing or mixed into mayo for tuna and chicken salad with personality.

You can also use it as a simmer sauce for chicken, fish, or shrimp: Sauté your protein of choice until it’s lightly browned, then add Almost Amba, cover, and simmer until cooked through. For bonus points, serve your protein on a bed of cauliflower rice (plain or fancy) and drizzle the whole shebang with Tahini Dressing before eating.

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