Ever since I visited the Sulur Sandhai some months ago , my trips to this weekly shandy have gotten rather frequent. And I’m pleased to say that it’s become my go to place for any farm related implements made the old fashioned way. On one such visit I spotted a heaped mound of a rhizome that is much loved by all at home. Fresh and gleaming ,the colour of ivory ,the pile of mango ginger beckoned most enticingly ! Interestingly it’s also referred to as ‘white ginger’ in some parts.
It’s a member of the ginger family that is not widely as common as the ginger and the turmeric are. In fact, it is increasingly getting overlooked from being added to the daily diet. Though I have eaten it countless times before, it’s like a revelation every time.That hit of raw mango along with the crunch of ginger is such a delicious combination,a true marvel of nature ! Ginger on the other hand can be quite fibrous and have a certain sharpness that is more medicinal than tasty. The texture of the manga inji however is smooth and crisp and it reminds me of the young ginger that is used in many Asian cookery shows.
My first thought when I spied it was to make the pickle that is everybody’s favourite. As I began to pile my basket with this delicious find , I asked the vendors if this was an ingredient that they cooked with often.The answers came fast and filled with enthusiasm. They probably thought that I had never eaten manga inji before. Varied suggestions were offered; chutney , pickle , sundal and even to add to a morru kozhambhu with lots of green chillies . Each one sounded one more delicious than the other, which meant that I needed to stock up on quantity.
The flavor of this unique food is such that it pairs exceedingly well with salt ,lemon and any spice.The freshness it imparts to the final dish is followed up by a zesty after taste that is not like a lip puckering raw mango but more like a mouthwatering slightly sweeter version of it. It definitely turns on the waterworks in the mouth. In the past I have experimented with two different kind of recipes with the mango ginger. One is an aunt in law’s recipe made with with fresh green peppercorns on the vine and the other is with bits of young ,raw turmeric . Both the recipes call for bright red chilli powder to liven it all up further.I like to cut it either in thin round slices or in long matchstick like strips depending on which recipe it is for. It’s delicious all the same , but the rounds offer a bit more volume to sink one’s teeth into ! Both these pickles require a generous amount of lime juice which not only act as a preservative but provide the base taste for the liquid component in the jar.
These instant kind of pickles are a great addition to a traditional Indian lunch. In fact I was invited to an elaborate luncheon just last week where a ragi vermicelli with curd was served with precisely this condiment. I couldn’t help but have a second serving of that divine combo !
Did you know that the mango ginger is filled with just nutritional but medicinal properties too ? The list of ailments that it can bring relief to are quite impressive.Small ingredients like this pack quite a punch even when used sparingly. Grate one rhizome into your salad dressing with pink himalayan crystal salt or into a papaya lime smoothie. Pair it with mint and lemon for a refreshing drink maybe even get creative with making popsicles .If you’re one who likes to experiment with savoury flavours in desserts I’d give the wasabi icecream a miss and focus instead on trying out a manga inji and lime cheesecake.