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What The Fork: There is More to Mangoes Than Desserts and Juices, Writes Kunal Vijayakar

By: Kunal Vijayakar

Last Updated: April 18, 2022, 15:52 IST

In Kerala, a traditional sweet and sour ripe mango and prawn curry, Mambazha Pulissery, is made especially during Lent, writes Kunal Vijayakar. Photo for representation: Shutterstock

In Kerala, a traditional sweet and sour ripe mango and prawn curry, Mambazha Pulissery, is made especially during Lent, writes Kunal Vijayakar. Photo for representation: Shutterstock

You know the mango season has started once all the Gujju thali joints in Kalbadevi add Aamras Poori on their menus and local ice cream makers announce their fresh mango ice cream is ready

What The Fork​​
If there is anything that can distract you from this distressingly hot season, it is the arrival of the king of all fruits, the golden and juicy mango. For me, waiting for the mango season to arrive is as much as a sacrament as the weather isn’t.

In Mumbai, by February itself, people usually start discussing how much the first mango is expected to cost. And those who value their status in society as much as the fruit itself, manage to get a few dozen before anyone else can. By mid-March and April, dozens of Alphonso mangoes arrive in Mumbai from Ratnagiri and Deogad. That for my money is the best mango. And, you know the mango season has started in earnest once all the Gujju thali joints in Kalbadevi add Aamras Poori on their menus and local ice cream makers announce that their fresh mango ice cream is ready. Restaurants and patisseries too will start their mango extravaganza. Fresh mangoes with cream, mango gateaux, mango mousse, mango panna cotta, fresh mango tart, mango cupcakes, mango cheesecakes, mango Brulee, mango Mille Feuille and more mango.

But there is more to mango than making desserts and juices. Mango has been an integral part of Indian cooking traditionally, especially along the Konkan coast. We are quite familiar with dishes, pickles, drinks and salads made from raw mango, and while Aamras still remains a popular way of consuming the mango, along the coast, where the mango grows in abundance, cooking with ripe mango is quite commonplace and traditional.

Let’s start with Ratnagiri and Goa. The Goans make a light, tropical ripe mango curry called Ghotache Sansav. It’s Aamras cooked with a tempering of hing, red chillies, mustard seeds and curry leaves with fresh coconut and a bit of jaggery. As odd as it may sound, it’s actually quite delicious and is eaten with Red Goan rice and a small piece of fried mackerel on the side. Also, among the Saraswats in Goa, and in Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg region where the jackfruit grows in every garden, a sweet coconut curry with a fascinating combination of jackfruit, pineapple and mango heralds the summer season. Ansa-Phansachi Bhaaji is a curry made with the combination of these three fruits and freshly grated coconut. Tempered with curry leaves, mustard seeds and hing, and spiced with coriander, pepper and dry red chillies, often a whole ripe mango is cooked in the Ansa-Phansachi Bhaaji, with the seed intact. With rice, it’s a little sweet, a little sour and a little spicy. The way life should be.

In Kerala, a traditional sweet and sour ripe mango and prawn curry, Mambazha Pulissery, is made especially during Lent, when devout Christians abstain from meat. The curry is made with yoghurt, coconut, small onions, chillies, ginger, mustard seeds, fenugreek, turmeric and coconut oil, with a handful of small-sized prawns and eaten with steamed rice. There is also the better known Chemmeen Manga Curry, again a prawn mango curry with raw mangoes cooked in creamy coconut sauce. The raw mangoes impart a light tangy flavour to the dish which is absolutely amazing.

Raw mango rice is a specialty in most parts of South India where the mango grows natively. Mangai Sadam is a simple rice dish, cooked with grated raw mango and tempered with simple spices and mixed with white rice.

In Karnataka, Mango Rasam is made with jaggery, spices and a just-about ready to eat green mango. And, using small full ripe mangoes is a Mangalorean curry called Ambe Upkari. It is a tangy and sweetish curry made with small, full-ripe mangoes, jaggery and green chillies. It’s great with hot rice and ghee, and finished off with a classic South Indian tadka. If I am not mistaken, this curry is also called Kukku da Kajipu, not the Punjabi kind of “kukku da” but kukku, which means means mango in Tulu.

In Tamil Nadu, a Raw Mango Pachadi is a must for Tamilian New Year. But the same Mango Pachadi can be made with sweet ripe mango too. Grind a paste of rice flour and coconut, tempered with mustard seeds and just a few green chillies. Once the paste is ready, cook the mango pulp till it turns smooth and soft, to this add jaggery and stir till the jaggery and mango become homogenous. Once the mango and jaggery are cooked together, add the coconut and chilli paste. Once the pachadi thickens, add turmeric and temper the mixture with hing and red dry chillies.

In Andhra tradition, raw mango is added to daal to make Mamidikaya Pappu. It’s a mango daal made with raw unripe mangoes, pigeon pea lentils, with tempering and spices. And finally, in Bengal, where the kasundi (mustard sauce) is a staple, Aam Kasundi is a seasonal variation. It’s sharp and mustardy and is perfect with fried fish and chops or with anything at all. I like it in a chicken sandwich with mayo. It’s very bhalo.

Kunal Vijayakar is a food writer based in Mumbai. He tweets @kunalvijayakar and can be followed on Instagram @kunalvijayakar. His YouTube channel is called Khaane Mein Kya Hai. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.

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first published:April 18, 2022, 15:52 IST
last updated:April 18, 2022, 15:52 IST