Come summer and one can only think of the King of Fruit: Mango. It is the national fruit ofIndia,Pakistanand thePhilippinesand is now grown in, if not exported to many parts of the world. Most of our childhood memories of hot summer days would be of slicing and eating raw mangoes and gorging on ripe ones with names as diverse as they are exotic: Alphonso, Malgoa, Benishan, Jehangir, Himmayat, Dusseri, Langra, Badami, Kesar, Pairi, Suvarnarekha, Rajapuri, Bara Mansi, Totapuri, Gulab Khas, Neelum, Mallika, Amrapali, Zardalu and K.O. 11 to name just a few. The most expensive being Alphonso which is wrapped in tissue paper, packed in wooden boxes and sold by the dozen or per piece. There are supposed to be at least 500 varieties of mangoes inIndiaalone. Buddhist monks and Persian scholars have taken it to other parts of the world, as have Portugese explorers.
In Hyderabad, we swear by our Rasals and Baiganpallis. A mango called Gadhemar also used to do the rounds in hand carts when we were children. The story behind the name was that one of these gigantic mangoes was large enough to kill a donkey when it fell on the hapless animal slumbering under this tree. Although I have eaten mangoes grown inSpain,Florida,Brazil,Australia, South East Asia andSouth Africaon my travels, I still love the mangoes growing in and aroundHyderabadthe most. As for mango pickle, it has to be made from the ‘avakai’ mangoes.
Mango leaves are used to decorate doorways, mango motifs are used in embroideries and the blossoms and fruits are used to worship several deities. Mirza Ghalib was also said to be very fond of mangoes.
The fruit pulp is high in dietary fiber, vitamins E, C, K, B6 and A. Mango contains essential vitamins and dietary minerals; potassium, copper and amino acids.
Mangoes are used to make juices, mango nectar, smoothies, ice cream and sorbets. Aam Ras and Aam Panna are perhaps the most popular. It is used in desserts and salads, to flavour lentils, rice and even soups. Aam chur can be used to good effect in a variety of dishes. My mother makes a wonderful mango sauce too.
Two of my favorite recipes are included here.
4 cups mango pulp
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup ghee
A few Cashew nuts
1 teaspoon cardamom powder.
In a thick bottomed vessel, put mango pulp, mash well with ladle and stir. As pulp starts to boil add sugar and stir well.
Fry cashew nuts in ghee. Add into the mixture and mix well. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the mixture starts to thicken, add the cardamom powder. Stir and add ghee gradually. When mixture starts leaving sides of the vessel, remove from fire and pour it onto a greased plate. When cool, cut into pieces.
1 cup plain cold yogurt,
1/2 cup cold milk
1 cup chopped and peeled mango
4 teaspoons sugar; more or less as per one’s taste.
Put mango, yogurt, milk and sugar into a blender and blend for 2 minutes, then pour into individual glasses and serve.