Takes two to Mango

A fairly lame title, that. Of course, every word true, when I speak of mangoes. But for a title, I should have been able to do better. I could have used Aam Aadmi. But all the mango-beverage commercials use that. And I didn’t want to use a Mango-The-King-of-Fruits-esque title either.

Every Indian child has grown up eating mangoes in summer. Ok, you’re a weird kid if you didn’t like mangoes when you were little. Now, now. I’m not the biggest fan around. But yes, I do love a good mango every once in a while.

Did you know that India is the world’s largest grower of mangoes? Some 13.6 million tonnes of the fruit, as recorded in 2008-2009. Wow!

And about how popular it is as a fruit? The mango is the national fruit of India, Pakistan and the Philippines. Add to that, the mango tree is the national tree of Bangladesh.

I’ll admit, I don’t know mangoes and their types too well. I know Alphonso (Hafoos) and Ratnagiri. And Payri. And Langda. And I know one and three because they are the only types I eat. The first is also the most expensive kind of mango there is. Turns out, it’s widely grown in Valsad – where most of my extended family lives. Hell, my mum’s sister and her husband bought a vaadi a few years ago. This massive expanse of land where they grow mango trees and thus, hundreds of kilos of mangoes, every other year.

Mangoes from my aunt's farm, stowed away with straw, while they ripen

That’s how the yield of mango trees works. Mango trees give good yield only every other year.

I’ve eaten mangoes in several forms:
Ripe: Orange, cut into cubes or just as slices.

Raw: Sprinkled with some salt and red chilli powder or cumin powder. We used to buy a half dozen slices for 50p (yes, half a rupee!) for the longest time, outside school, when the summers began.

Raw, as chutney: Two home-recipes provided below.

The aamras-puri deal

Aam-ras: That’s mango pulp. No added preservatives or flavours. Just as is. Or with puris. And bataka nu shaak. Or bataatyaachi bhaaji. Whatever you’d like to call it. Alright.
Puri: unleavened Indian bread, fried.
The other term: boiled potatoes, diced and cooked in turmeric and a few spices.

Aam-poli: Slices of ripe mango, dried out in the sun and then seasoned with sugar and packed and sold at traffic lights dirt cheap!!!

Aamchur: As that extra ingredient in pani-puri and chaat.

Panha: Also referred to as aam-panna by non-Maharashtrians. But no. It’s Panha. Not anything else. Raw mangoes are boiled in water. The fruit is then peeled and made into a pulp. It is mixed with sugar, salt, red chilli powder and cumin powder. And that, mixed with water and a couple of cubes of ice is the most awesome cooler that for the heat. The pulp with the spices is often stored away in refrigerators. And brought out and mixed with water, as and when needed.

Kairi Panha

Kachi Kairi Baraf Gola: Snow Cones, with syrup made from raw mangoes and some artificial flavouring and colour, poured over. Dripping. Messy. But so much fun! On a summer afternoon.

Chhunda and Murabba: Very Gujarati recipes for jams. Obviously, made from mango. While murabba tends to be yellow and sweet, flavoured with cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and saffron; chhunda is a darker colour – often reddish brown – made with cumin powder, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt and sugar. Both, chhunda and murabba, pair really well with thepla (or methi ke parathe for the non-Gujjus or better still, Indian flat bread, flavoured with fenugreek leaves).

Pickles: There’s always mango pickle, made with raw mangoes, red chilli powder, salt, methi/fenugreek seeds (optional) and oil (as a preservative). And I’m sure a lot of us have it stored away in jars at the back of the refrigerator.

There’s also a few Indian sweets that are made from mangoes, mango milkshakes and also mango ice cream. But I’m not a fan of those.

My friend, Miss Kapur, cannot stop raving about this one time she ate Mango Medu Vada (savoury doughnuts? Heehee) and Mango Burger. She’s been urging me to try the recipes (she has them!) But somehow I’ve never gotten around to doing it.

Then of course, there are several curry recipes that use raw mango. I haven’t tried cooking any of those though. So I’ll leave it at that.

The “hedgehog” style is a common way of eating mangoes. In fact, I have an image of it on one of the headers. It’s where you cut two really fat slices of the mango – along the wider side, one on either side of the seed. And then, you lightly cut a checkered pattern onto each of these pieces. After that, you gently fold it inside out, from the underside – the skin. Voila! Hedgehog!

Or then slices. Where you place a slice, skin upwards in your mouth and use your teeth to ‘scrape’ the meat of the fruit into your mouth and pull it off the skin. As gross as the technique might appear, the way I’ve typed it, it’s the BEST way to eat mangoes. And get your fingers orange and sticky from all the yumminess that oozes.

And then, there’s diced. I remember how, as children, my cousins and I would binge on Hafoos mangoes. My maternal grandmum would cut up a half dozen of them every afternoon, for the kids. Diced mango. Each cube the same size as every other. And then, six ‘gotla’s or cores. These were essentially, the central seed of the mango, surrounded by the fruit which hadn’t been diced. And we’d sit down in the kitchen, post lunch. Cross legged. Four little girls. The oldest and me in petticoats – long cotton shirts we called petticoats. And the younger two, in bloomers. With cute floral prints. And we’d be served a bowl each. Filled to the top with mango. And one ‘gotla’ each. The other two, for the mums or my grandmum. The central portion tends to be a little sour, not as sweet as the rest of the mango. So we’d have that first. Always. The core often slipping for our hands and soiling the petticoat. Summers in Gujarat were a different kind of fun when I was little.

Those recipes I spoke about at the beginning of the blog? Read on. Here, at home, we make chutneys from the mangoes from our mango tree every year. Both recipes involve using raw mangoes. Green on the outside. And a very very very dull yellow, on the inside.

And all that I can see is just another mango tree...

The first recipe is a green chutney:
1 part raw mango
1 part mint leaves
salt, to taste
Green chillies, to taste

All that, blended together to give a scrumptious mango chutney.

Grated white onion and raw mango

The other recipe:
2 parts raw mango, grated
1 part onions, grated
Some salt
Some sugar
Some red chilli powder.

Mix away to form a chutney that suits your taste of spice and sweetness.

Sweet and sourness goodness

Do you think recipes could be any easier? And how do you eat them? With bread, as a sandwich. With chapatis, as a roll. With biscuits, as a topping. As a dip with sticks of cucumber, carrots and celery. With kebabs. Hell, my dad’s even make a cocktail with the green chutney.

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