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Mango, the king of regional stews and curries too

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For about 90 days, between March and June, Indians are united in their love for one thing (and no, it’s not the IPL): mangoes, deemed the king of fruits. The National Horticultural Board pegs the number of known mango varieties in India at a

staggering 1500, of which 1000 varieties are grown commercially. And, depending on which part of the country you live in, the season can start as early as March, or last till the monsoon arrives to fade way the summer heat.

Of all the known varieties, the Alphonso is considered the diamond of the season. And while it is a delicious fruit, beautiful in taste, texture and shape, it is mostly enjoyed as-is, or blended into desserts.

But beyond the Bombay belt where Alphonsos reign supreme, ripe mangoes are used generously in cooking, particularly in the West and the South, where I’m from. Ripe mangoes are versatile and can be prepared in several ways, from Gujarati fajeto (mango kadhi) to Udupi-style ambe upkari. Many of these recipes make use of the fruit and the seed, adding more flavour.

We’re sharing 3 regional family recipes, from Kerala, Coorg and Maharastra, which we hope you’ll try before mangoes run out!
 

Kerala Mambazha Moloshyam (Mango Stew) from Meenakshi, @thepepperjournal
This is a recipe that was handed down to me by my grand-aunt. Moloshyam is a light lentil stew from Kerala made with toor dal and summer vegetables, usually ash gourd or pumpkin. In this recipe, the lentils and vegetables are swapped for mangoes. In our home, we would use a local fibrous variety called “chandrakaaran”: small, deep green on the outside, and marigold yellow within. (Note: any kind of mango can be used for this dish).

The mangoes are paired with a handful of ingredients and gently cooked; a beautiful marriage of sweet, tart mango and creamy coconut milk with a spike of heat from the chilli. And it comes together in half an hour, making it all the more agreeable.

Meenakshi Nair

Stews and curries from Mangoes

Ingredients
•    2–4 mangoes, depending on the size of what you are using. If
      they are the small fibrous variety that easily fit into the palm of
      your hand, I would suggest using four. With larger mangoes
      like Alphonso and Badami, 2 will suffice.
•    ½ tsp turmeric powder
•    ½ tsp chilli powder
•    ½ tsp salt (or more to taste)
•    ½ tablespoon sugar (or more, depending on how sweet or sour
      the mangoes are)
•    Water
•    ½ to ¾ cup thick coconut milk, depending on how creamy you
      like your curry
•    ½ tbsp coconut oil
•    5–6 fresh curry leaves

Method
•    Wash your mangoes well and get rid of any grit that may be stuck to the skin.
•    Cut the mangoes into long slices, if using large ones. Smaller mangoes can be left whole. Just slice off the top so that the juices can seep into
      the liquid.
•    Place the mango, seeds and all, in a large pot. Add turmeric, chilli powder, sugar, salt and just enough water to cover.
•    Simmer until the mangoes are soft.
•    Add the coconut milk and mix well. Let the stew simmer for a few minutes— but be careful, you don’t want the coconut milk to split!
•    Adjust for salt and sweetness.
•    Turn off the flame, drizzle coconut oil over the top and garnish with fresh curry leaves. 
•    Serve with rice.
 

Coorgi Kaad Maange Curry from Anusha, @palate_n_flavours
Coorgi cuisine is synonymous with rich meaty dishes and steamed rice cakes and string hoppers. Kaad Maange or Wild Mango Curry, shared by English professor and writer Anusha Shaila, is lesser-known outside of the region, but a seasonal favourite in Coorg.  

Who: Anusha is a food, photography and coffee enthusiast who shares shots of what she’s cooking on her Instagram handle, with a focus on authentic regional Southern recipes. (There are also plenty of moody coffee shots thrown in, which will make you want to reach for a cold brew!)

Food philosophy: Based in Bangalore but with roots in Dakshina Kannada, she grew up in an agricultural family. Her food philosophy is based on respecting the ingredients she cooks with and taking the time to learn the roots of any dish, like the mango curry shared here. The roasted spice mix used is a Coorgi kitchen 

Anusha Shaila

staple and the mangoes are a local foraged variety.

About the dish: “The local variety of mango is broadly called kaatu maavu/wild mangoes. They literally grow in the wild and are not cultivated; no mangoes are the same and each tree bears fruits with distinct flavour and is named after the place where it's grown. The tiny mangoes are fibrous, sweet and sour, found hanging from large trees in rural Malnad.”
 

Anusha's Coorgi Kaad Maange

Ingredients
•    8-10 ripe wild mangoes
•    2 medium-sized onions, chopped
•    5 garlic pods, chopped
•    2 green chillies, slit
•    1 sprig of curry leaves
•    ½ tsp mustard seeds
•    ½ tsp red chilli powder
•    ½ tsp turmeric powder
•    2 tbsp jaggery powder
•    2 cups water
•    2 tbsp oil
•    Salt to taste

Spice mix:
•    1 tbsp coriander seeds
•    1 tsp cumin seeds
•    1 tsp mustard seeds
•    ½ tsp black pepper 

Method
•    Dry roast all the spices for the spice mix, taking care not to burn them. Let cool and grind to a fine powder.
•    Wash, clean and peel the mangoes. Squeeze juice from the skin of the mangoes and keep aside. Alternately you can just slice the sides of the
      mangoes with the peels on.
•    In a kadhai, add oil. When hot, add mustard seeds and let it splutter.
•    Add garlic and when it starts browning add curry leaves and green chillies. Sauté for a minute. Add onions and fry until translucent.
•    Add in mangoes, chilli powder, turmeric powder and ground spice powder. Add 2 cups of water or enough water to cover the mangoes. Bring
      to a boil.
•    Add salt to taste and simmer for about 5 minutes.
•    Cook over a medium flame until the sauce starts thickening. This takes about 10-15 minutes.
•    Add jaggery and cook for few more minutes.
•    Enjoy the hot and sour wild mango curry with akki rotti (rice flatbreads) or steamed rice.

Notes:
If you do not have wild mangoes, please go ahead and try it with any other variety of mango which is slightly smaller in size and sour in taste. Sugar baby mangoes are the closest in size, but they lack the exact level of sourness.

The same spice mix can be used to make curry using bitter gourd. This would

additionally need tamarind or kachampuli or any other souring agent to compensate the sourness of mango.
 

Maharashtrian Ambyacha Raita from Manjiri Mestry, @manjirimestry
The Konkan being home to some of the nation’s favourite mango varieties, it’s only natural that the fruit finds a place of pride in Maharashtrian cuisine. Don’t get confused by the nam—this raita is not a typical yogurt-based side dish, but a lightly spiced curry that can be eaten with rice.

Who: Manjiri Mestry used to work in a clean energy company but has since become a stay-at-home mom, settled in North Carolina with her family. Originally from Mumbai, cooking traditional food keeps her connected to home.

Food philosophy: As a mom and expat, Manjiri’s focus is on healthy food and exploring traditional Indian recipes. An avid cook, she now shares her recipes on her Instagram handle ManjiriMestry, an eclectic mix of snacks, sweets, street food and lesser-known recipes from Maharashtra.

About the dish: “This particular dish can be prepared with any variety of mango. I was introduced to this recipe by my husband

Manjiri Mestry

when I first visited his extended family. With just a few ingredients, one can make this hot-and-sweet ripe mango curry which is called ambyacha raita in the Malvan and Konkan regions of Maharashtra.”
 

Manjiri's Maharashtrian Ambyacha Raita

Ingredients
•    2-3 mangoes
•    2 tablespoons neutral cooking oil
•    1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
•    4-5 garlic cloves
•    A few curry leaves
•    1 tsp red chilli powder
•    1/4 tsp turmeric powder
•    Salt to taste
•    1-2 tbsp jaggery
•    Water as needed

Method
•    Bring water to boil in a pot. Add the mangoes, cover and cook for 4-5 minutes. This makes it easy to remove the skin. Once boiled, drain, peel
      the skin, and set aside.
•    Heat oil in a pot and add the mustard seeds, allow them to sputter. Add garlic and curry leaves. Add the cooked mangoes and stir.
•    Add chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt, and stir.
•    Add some more water (just enough to cover the mangoes). Add the jaggery and simmer for a few more minutes.
•    Serve with rice.

If you haven’t tried cooking with mangoes, now might be a good time to give it a shot. We’re only halfway through mango season…so there’s plenty of time (and mangoes!) to test some of these recipes.

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