May 12, 2007

Mango Succour

I have done it on gymmers, on heights, on saris , on trousers...
Now it is the turn and time of mangoes.

I quote from a Karadi Tales song -
Mangoes, ripe mangoes,
Green and sour raw mangoes
Golden yellow round mangoes
Juicy plum and sweet mangoes
Fat and short, thin and long Mangoes to eat all day long.....

As a child I did not relish this fruit much- being much fonder of the watery genre such as water melon, orange and pear. But with time I was drawn into the family tradition of savouring each variety of mango. So you can say I have a cultivated taste when it comes to this fruit. Of course this affinity comes with small repercussion on your wallet and your face and stomach ( excess can lead to pimples/ loosies)

With April comes tantalizing raw mango laden trees. Small marble sized mangoes beckon to be pickled into " maavadu or vadu maangai" As May comes in and the temperature skyrockets (with Agni Nakshatram in Chennai it was at 43 degrees yesterday) the time is right for seduction- by ripe juicy mangoes.

Here is a list of all the mango varieties I know:
Baganapalli- My favourite from my Andhra days, it has lovely firm texture, is luscious in taste and a rich creamy yellow hue
Aapus/ Alphonso- The debatable King of Mangoes , native of Maharashtra , but introduced to us by the Portuguese. You also find the Salem variety now. Succulent, sunny orange and delicious it is best eaten just so or as aam ras.
Rasaalu- Great for Aavakkai pickles in the raw form, and should be sucked whole if eaten ripe. ( beware of worms though which you may not be able to tell from the outside) Very fibrous with a lot of juice, you can make mango juice concentrate with it. Also good for making mango jellies
Malgova- The bulkiest of mangoes, cream in colour, tiny seeded it is yummy and a favourite with a lot of Tamilians
Himayat- Rather expensive and exclusive. Slightly long and smooth textured
Dusheri- From Lucknow, it is often in contest with the next one.
Langda- A variety from Benaras,. Green in colour . It is yummy . The name means of ‘handicapped of the leg’ in Hindi- do not know the connection though
Kesar- As the name suggests it is orangish in colour and has a unique flavour of saffron.
Rumani- Often sour, it has a rounder appearance and is thin skinned. It follows later in the season and as per me a poorer variety

Neelam- Considered the poor man’s aapus. It shows up later in the season has a better shelf life. Though thick skinned creamy in texture, sweet in taste. Often the added bonus is the beetle inside.
Himampasand- A paler yellow inside, I love its flavour which just envelops you like a rich melody. As the name indicates, legend has it that a maiden was wooed/ wowed by this mango by a clever King who was besotted with her
Mallika- This longish variety is rather new to me and was a gift during pregnancy from Bangalore. It is incredibly sweet if you get the right batch, with a strange camphor like scent that leaves you smitten. Problem is if it is bad, it is truly insipid.
Pairi- Reddish green and yellow , relatively small sized- it is fairly interesting in flavour, favoured for its juice/pulp
Chausa- If I recollect green skinned but sweet and juicy variety
Killimuuku/ Tothapuri is now a perennial variety in Chennai. Crunchy, it is often eaten raw with salt and chilly powder. Also great for the refreshing kairi lassi (with yogurt with ginger, green chilly, sugar & salt) . Good for quick fix pickles for immediate consumption and biseeupanikai ( a Kannadiga style pickle with copra and jaggery- like a hot and sweet morabba) .

There are debates not just on which is the best mango but also on how it is to be eaten.
The choices are many:

  • slice and eat with skin

  • slice and suck on them and discard the skin

  • peel the skin off and cut into cubes and eat with fork

  • cut in half, scoop out with a spoon 
  • cut in half, cube unfurl , pretty style

  • suck straight out- an art that comes with the danger of worms and squirting juice on your clothes

  • eat cold, post refrigeration/ eat at room temperature

  • as a milk shake/ Juice/ aamras/ aam panna

  • as pacchadi ( cooked with chillie sand jaggery)

  • as mango jelly

  • with ice-cream/ souffles/pastries and of course

  • for the raw ones you have a variety of lassi, chutneys, preserves and pickles
The Ambrosial fruit has found favour with a lot of Royals from Jehangir to Alexander and yet is known as aam (meaning mass/ common) The global name-mango- probable connects back to the Tamil equivalent- mangai. And the mango has been in art for ever with the mango print design in Moghul paintings and the block print of native India and even jewelry - the manga maalai of Kerala.

It is also an important item in Vishukani on Malayalam new year. In Maharashtra raw mango is used with channa dal in chutney form on Gudipadva (New Year). The Telugu New year Ugadi begins with the Ugadi Pachadi of raw mango.

Why don't you contribute your favourite experience relating to mangoes, take it up as a tag if you like? Also do refine any of the above if you are better informed....I do not claim accuracy. It is a just a Mango Maniac's account....


Anonymous said...

Eating mangoes with a fork and spoon ! Disgusting !

I havent tried all the varieties you mentioned, but the banganapalli is my favorite...somehow we are not gettig so many of them in recent years, I think...

noon said...

Banganapalli, Alphonso, Kilimookku, Himampasand - all my favs! Oh man Art, not fair sitting in Chennai and enjoying delicious mangoes and making us drool with this kind of post! I guess this is the reward you get for suffering the heat in Chennai now!
You may enjoy this article in the NYT from a while back.
When you eat 'em you better remember that there is someone desperately missing delicious Mangoes (that too a pregnant woman - the popular notion that pregnant women crave mangoes! Well I always do!)...

Artnavy said...

It is THE ultimate confort food!!

Noon- Thanks for the link- very interesting read...of all the surrogates I think Vadilal's aam ras is good and Slice is better than Frooti

Hope u come over soon to india and get your fill of mangoes

I was told not to eat too many mangoes during pregnacy to "avoid heating up the body"...:-(

last year was breast feeding anush still-so went a little easy

this year - will make up for the last 2 years

Apu- i think u get a lot of Banganapalli in Chennai and Andhra - not sure about Karnataka

Pingu said...

I luvvvv Banganapalli!!! (so thts how its spelt...i hav been spelling it wrong all these yrs :P)

I recently spoke to one of my frnds who is in d US ... she was tellng me how she misses India - d crowds,d bhelpuri and d Banganapalli! :)

Hip Grandma said...

Has any one tried Salem Nedochalai.My grandfather would rubbish all other varieties and stick to this brand.I haven't eaten it in years.I also like Himsagar which is available from the end of may.looking out for it.

Li'l Lite said...

We had a malgova tree in our backyard..sob sob..guess the season is not in full swing!

Itchingtowrite said...

very comprehensive!
malda- origins W Bengal- Malda- similar to Langda - i really do not know the difference.

Bijju- country mango.. like the mongrel. grows on its own without proper grafting etc or whatever is the pocess that is supposed to make them pure bred... usually village boys will pick it up after a storm and eat or try to sell it at the road side.

tota pari- huge, slightly pink, kind of shaped like a parrot's beak. fleshy.
langda- grown by a lame fellow so the name- supposedly dicovered by chance???

anyday i wud prefer the malda / langda- i swear by it... it has a slight bitter skinny taste that hurts the throat though..
safeda- similar to banganapalli
weighs over 1 kg- fazli- comes really late- july-august

Artnavy said...

thanks a lot itchy

hgmom- have not trie dit- maybe will look for it

little light- so what happened to it or did u move out

pingu- i would agree with your friend had i been in the US but i miss the bhel even in Chennai

Munimma said...

Perfect ode to the king of fruits. It is a tough match between banganapalli and malgova (isn't that kilimukku?) for me. I will have to wait until my next summer trip to India.

Lavs said...

Being a non foodie, I do not like anything good for my health My father loooooves mangoes. In fact, earlier when he used to travel to Maharashtra a lot, he used to bring loads and loads of alphonsos. He particularly likes to have poori with Aam ras. And what are those mangoes called which has bees inside them??? They fly out the minute you cut the seed.

Monika said...

that was quite informative.... though i have never been a mango fan, dont eat them strange but true :)

Artnavy said...

muniamma- thanks and no killimooku and malgova are diff- malgova is kind of round and bulky while killimooku has a sligthly tapered look with a parrot beak like tip

lavs/ monika- i used to be like u
but now each summer i am like a new zealot/ convert to the mango chant

Anonymous said...

came to your blog from another's blog - love it!
can see you are also a karadi rhymes fan :)

Artnavy said...

thanks namvor- pl keep visiting !

u indian?

The Kid said...

you missed out one important way indians consume mango in the US. "Mango lassi"

you would have to be a grad student to enjoy it fully :)

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