The abundance of raw green mangoes around her inspires SHANTHINI RAJKUMAR to cook up some delicious fare- Friday 8th May 2015
What is an Indian summer without mangoes and the sight of the gigantic trees lush and green with the long tapered leaves laden with heavy fruit. Much has been written in praise of the king of fruits. Our love affair with the mango does not begin and end with the ripe fruit.
It starts when the mango is still green and tart. There are certain varieties of mangoes which are best eaten when green. One such mango tree stands in my garden. It’s quite old and has silently observed the many games of tag and hide and seek played by my husband and his sibling. Its broad trunk has borne the weight of small feet and hands which clambered up to pluck and feast off the tart fruit.
When I moved in, it took me nearly a year to realise that these mangoes were meant to be picked while they were still green.
The only hint that they were ready for picking would be the change in their size. They grow to be rather large and can weigh up to half a kilo each.
About a decade ago I was advised to fell the tree as it had gotten old and would not bear any more fruit. The thought of looking out my window and not being able to see this tree was unthinkable for me. And what do you know? It began to yield all over again and in plenty, year after year.
One of the first things I made out of the mango was a simple, instant green mango pickle. It was so well liked by family and friends that there’s been no looking back. In fact, my list of ‘pickle-receivers’ keeps growing year after year and that’s what makes me immensely happy.
There are also many ways to cook this green mango. As I explored these flavours, I was amazed to discover just how versatile this one ingredient can be. I’m sure each Indian home has it’s own favourite mangaa dish. The most fascinating of all is that despite the similarity in the spices and seasonings, every dish has a taste that’s unique owing to the difference in technique and the food that it is paired with. There are a few simple ways the green mangaa is used in our home.
Tangy green mango salad
This dish tops my favourites list. Because it came into existence rather unexpectedly one hot afternoon. I made it with just the ingredients I had at home that day. It’s also special ,because it was made for my mother.
It’s nothing but thin slices of shredded green mango, carrot and onion,mixed together with a few pinches of powdered rock salt and bit of jaggery.
Follow that up with a good squeeze of lemon juice, a sprinkling of chaat masala and give it all a good toss . Quick, healthy and yummy.
Cut the mangaa is cut into cubes with the skin intact. Cook it with an infusion of tamarind and a bit of jaggery in water until it goes soft and pulpy.Temper it with curry leaves ,dried red chillies and mustard seeds just before serving. The sour sweetness of this dish goes well with steamed rice or a light coconut rice. Our favourite indulgence however is to squish the mangaas, chilli and all with our thayir saadham. That makes for a perfectly satisfying summer meal.
Rice is such an integral part of the South Indian diet .And mangaa saadham is again one of those summer specials.
I somehow can never bring myself to make this when the mangoes are not in season, it just doesn’t taste quite right. The rice preparation is made with grated mangaa, chopped onions, sesame, lentils and dried chillies.
A few days ago, my mother’s friend shared with me her special Iyengar recipe. Grated mangaa ground with coconut, mustard seeds and red chillies tasted so delicious topped with toasted crunchy peanuts and curry leaves. Devoid of onions and heavy spices, the flavours just danced on the palate.
A simple morru kozhambhu to go on the side and we’re all set.
The quiet Konkan brahmin lady who helps me in the kitchen showed me this seasonal treat. The raw mangaa is peeled and chopped into very fine bits. A bit of green chilli, coconut and sugar is ground to a coarse paste and added to a bowl of cool yoghurt along with the diced mangaa. I like to add a final sprinkling of red chilli powder for colour to pick up the paler back ground of this cool pachadi. It makes for a great side dish and goes wonderfully with both rice as well as Indian breads.
Some mangaas must be eaten only raw. Like the kili mookku mangaa that inspires greed and gluttony.
The pointed end of the mango is what gives it its name.
This is to be eaten one way and one way only…. giggling in the company of friends and family.
The pieces are pale yellow, sweet and sour and sold in carts all over the city. The fruits are cut beautifully, like unfolding flower petals and with the sprinkling of red chilli powder on them, they are the best. I so want some now.