Almost Amba

Tangy Mango Sauce from Iraq


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes

    2 cups

Appears in

Well Fed 2: More Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat

Well Fed 2

By Melissa Joulwan

Published 2013

  • About

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. 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 of each. Authentic? Doubtful. Delicious? Definitely.

Prep 10 Min.
Cook 1 Hr.


  • ½ tablespoon ghee (or coconut oil)
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons whole mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
  • 2 dried red chile peppers
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 green mango, peeled, cored, and cut into thin slices
  • juice of ½ medium orange (about 3 tablespoons)
  • cup water



Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes. Add ghee and allow it to melt. 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.

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.

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.) Pour into a heat-proof jar and refrigerate. Allow flavors to meld for about a day before eating. Store covered in the refrigerator for up 3 months.