This North Indian spice enhances acidity without adding moisture.
Amchoor, also known as aamchur or amchur, is a mainstay in the cooking of the Indian subcontinent. The spice is made by drying green, unripe mangoes that have been harvested early or have fallen from trees and then grinding them to a powder. The result is a beige-to-golden-colored powder with a honey-like fragrance and pleasingly tart flavor.
Amchoor is often used to enhance acidity without extra moisture in applications such as samosa and alu paratha fillings, pakoras, and sautéed or stir-fried vegetables. It also lends sourness to stews and soups, chutneys, pickles, dals, and marinades for meat and poultry. Kaumudi Marathé, author of our alu parathas story, likes to dust amchoor over keema at the table or combine it with chile powder, cumin, and salt to season boiled or roasted potatoes. Amchoor is often added at or near the end of cooking, and unlike other spices with high concentrations of essential oil that can be forced out with heat, amchoor doesn't need to be bloomed before use. Because the powder is quite potent, there's no need to use more than a teaspoon or two.
Buy amchoor from a reputable spice shop—Marathé likes Burlap & Barrel brand—and store it in a cool, dark place. To test the quality of your amchoor, follow her advice: Pinch some between your fingertips and give it a lick. You should taste pure, unadulterated tartness.