Never mind the scorching heat, power trips, dry skin and irritable eyes during summer. The one thing that blesses us is the season’s fruit. Delicious, aromatic mangoes!
Young and old, healthy and sick, rich Nawabs and roadside labourers,all lovingly eye the abundant springing blossoms of the mango tree. Amidst the dark green foliage the koel or cuckoo bird sings melodiously. The intense heat of summer is conducive for ripening the fruit. From raw green to mellow yellow to a golden-yellow, mangoes hang down weighing the branch.
Though mangoes are cultivated in Brazil, Australia, Philipines and Thailand, the Indian mango reigns supreme for its taste and aroma.The Mughal emperor Akbar was so fond of mangoes, he planted 100,000 trees in Darbhanga, Bihar. Mangoes were traded between erstwhile Nawab families or given as bountiful presents during ceremonies. Emperor Aurangzeb, was also fond of mangoes. The Maratha kings presented him a large fruit container. The story describes how clever Sivaji Maharaj, his arch rival, outwitted the emperor and entered his palace to surprise his enemy, just by hiding his small stature between that aroma filled container!
On a festive note -Hindu homes, puja altars and door entrances are decorated with the foliage. The fruit along with fragrant flowers is offered at temples. It is given to pregnant women for a healthy and sweet nutrition and delivery.
This summer I made endless visits to the market and newly set up organic shops to buy a variety of fruit. Childhood memories of climbing up mango trees or pelting it with stones to drop raw fruit came fresh to mind as my friend showed photos of the tree in the backyard and the multitude of black ants creeping along the trunk. Mangoes, mangoes everywhere.
I leave you with a few photographs taken at various regional markets.
Haapus or Alphonso Mango from coastal Maharashtra ( and Mumbai)
The Alphonso Mango is often called Áam ka Raja’ or King of mangoes. Broad top tapering to a rounded end, a smooth skin and richly aromatic is the Haapus. The sweet fleshy pulp is perfect for eating on its own or add it to desserts like shrikhand to make aamrakhand. Locally grown near Ratnagiri, the mango has become widely cultivated for export all over the world.
Dussheri – from north India
Smaller in size this mango grows all over North India. As it ripens late in June and July, it extends a ‘bonus eating season.’ It’s sweet hairy pulp oozes out when softly pressed, loosening the pulp from skin. A children’s delight -this mango brings fun to the dining table as children dribble the juicy pulp and colour their mouths orange in a competitive and fun eating time, all between laughter and giggles.
Banganapalli or Safeda. – from Central India, Andhra and Karnataka
A large and oval-shaped mango. It often weighs up to 200 grams each. The pale yellow skin is not as thick as the Alphonso. The centre seed is large and the pulp is fleshy. Slicing it neatly is the best way to serve this very popular variety. Chill it, serve it…eat it!
Totapuri – from Andhra, Gujarat and Karnataka
You probably guessed right. The name ‘tota’ is Hindi for Parrot. The mango has a slightly pointed tip like the beak of the parrot. This variety is best for salads and pickles, not so sweet to bite into.
Rasalu or Ras Bahar from Andhra and Karnataka
Greenish yellow skin with a peck of orange at the top end this mango feels soft when ripe. Best eaten by fidgety fingers that deftly press the fruit to release the pulp. Hmm…smack your lips and enjoy the sweetness.
For a more elegant serve – press out the pulp, add a dash of cold milk, a pinch of salt to balance the taste. Serve refrigerated. Serve with hot poori (Indian fried bread).
For a recipe of raw mango see here.
Isn’t your mouth watering to buy your favourite mango variety? Don’t forget to send some to your friend (or arch-enemy:) and bring out the smiles.
What is your favourite variety ? Where is it grown?
All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2017) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer.