Hog Plum or Amra: The Humble Sour Fruit with Burst of Flavours

The tropical fruit hog plum, also called as Ambarella or Amra in India, has a unique place in Indian cuisine. The fruit gives a variety of dishes a distinctive flavour because of its acidic and somewhat sour flavour. Hog plums are used to add a delicious burst of flavour to pickles, chutneys, and classic curries. Their unique sourness adds to the complexity and variety of regional cuisine when coupled with a variety of aromatic spices and condiments. Hog plums offer a flavour of both tradition and creativity to the dish, demonstrating the adaptability and innovation that Indian cuisine is praised for. 

Scientifically known as Spondias mombin, it is a tropical fruit tree native to South America but now widely cultivated in various tropical regions around the world. The fruit is known by different names in different countries, such as ‘ambarella’ in Sri Lanka and ‘jobo’ in parts of Latin America. Hog plum fruits are typically small to medium-sized, oval or oblong, and have thin, yellow to orange skin. The flesh is juicy and can range from sweet to tart, depending on the fruit's ripeness. Some describe its flavour as a mix of mango, pineapple, and citrus. 

However, many homes in the coastal region of India grow these in their backyards, and it thus makes its way into their kitchens. Sometimes referred to as a wild mango, a ripe ambarella or ambade, Hog plums are replete during the monsoons, right through early winters. Rich in Vitamin C, Iron and Calcium, the addition of Hog Plums, not only elevates a dish in terms of flavour, but from a health point of view too.   

From the Konkan belt to West Bengal and Orissa, here’s how hog plums are used in Indian cuisine 


Ambade Udid Methi, a traditional Goan curry, showcases hog plums alongside urad dal and fenugreek seeds. The combination of sour hog plums, bitter fenugreek, and creamy coconut creates a unique harmony of flavours. The sourness of hog plums is balanced by the earthy flavors of urad dal and the slight bitterness of fenugreek seeds. This curry is a staple in Konkani households and is often paired with rice. Another Goan specialty is "Ambade Sasav," where hog plums are used to prepare a tangy and spicy sauce, often served as a condiment or side dish.  

West Bengal 

In West Bengal, hog plums make their way into the kitchen to prepare a tangy and lip-smacking Amra Chutney. This chutney is created by blending hog plums with spices like red chilies, mustard seeds, and a dash of sugar. With a harmonious blend of sweet, sour, and spicy flavours this can be enjoyed as a side dish with rice or various snacks.  


Orissa showcases its love for hog plums with Amba Khatta, a traditional sweet and sour chutney. Here, hog plums are cooked with jaggery, panch phoron (a five-spice blend), and a pinch of salt. The chutney is a tantalizing one that beautifully balances the tanginess of the fruit with the sweetness of jaggery and the aromatic spices. Amba Khatta is a must-have during festive occasions and accompanies rice-based meals. 


Kerala, known for its rich culinary heritage, features hog plums in various dishes, such as Pulissery. To make this, hog plums are combined with yogurt, coconut, and a blend of spices to create a tangy and creamy curry. The sourness of hog plums complements the coolness of yogurt, resulting in a refreshing and satisfying dish that pairs wonderfully with rice. 

Tamil Nadu  

In Tamil Nadu, hog plums are cherished for making Maavadu, a famous pickle. These green hog plums are pickled in a mixture of spices, salt, and oil to create a tangy and spicy condiment. Maavadu is a beloved accompaniment to rice, curd rice, and various South Indian meals, adding a burst of flavour to each bite. 

On Rishi Panchami, a day after Ganesh Chaturthi, a special stir fry is made in the Konkan region with ambade, colocasia leaves, amaranth or lal math, and other vegetables which is offered as Prasad to Lord Ganesh.  

Ambade may not be a part of daily cooking, but is surely more visible during the festive season starting Ganesh Chaturthi till Diwali, as that is the time it is easily available and also adds flavour to the vegetarian dishes eaten at festivals.