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Mangoes are a delicious in desserts but also work well in savoury dishes
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!
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.
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 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.”
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.
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 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.”
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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