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22 August 2012

One thing to do before you are 60...

This post is for all those non-Indians (and for some of the unfortunate Indians) who haven't had the taste of Indian Mango.
You have all those 'Bucket Lists', the things that you have to do before you kick the bucket, that include items like, take a walk on the Great Wall of China, Visit the Pyramids, see London through London Eye....
There is one item that all these lists miss.
Eat Variety of Mangoes in India.
Mangoes in India are different from those anywhere else in the world in terms of Size, Colour and Taste. There are small mangoes and there are huge mangoes, there are red, yellow and green mangoes and there are tasty mangoes and there are Oh, so yummy mangoes. Nowhere in the world can you see the kind of Variety of mangoes that you have in India.
Mango, also known as 'King of Fruits' is the national fruit of India. India boasts of over 800 different varieties of mangoes. Like their language, culture, cuisine, art, dance and music, every state of India has its own special mango.
When we were growing up in Kerala, we used to have so many mango trees in our farm that most of our summers were spent on top of or under the mango trees. As the sun rises, we will get out of the bed and rush to the Mango Trees. Most often, ripe mangoes would have fallen down during the night and those Mangos will be our first food of the day, even before we drink our milk and eat our breakfast.
Since these mangoes ripened naturally on the tress, they would be yummy, oh, so yummy.
We used to eat 'Kilichundan (bird beak)', 'Moovandan', 'Perakka Manga (tastes like Gauva) and other innumerable types of Mangoes. I have forgotten the names of few of them. We used to eat raw mangos with salt and chilli powder, medium ripe ones, which were both sweet and sour at the same time and of coursed, the ripe ones.
Some times, we used to climb the trees to pluck the mangoes, we used ladders at other times. We even used to pluck mangos by throwing stones. The feeling of satisfaction as you hit a mango and it falls down to the ground cannot be imagined...
During the mango season, we used to have one curry made of Mangos on a daily basis. Tambrams (Short for Tamil Brahmins) has so many Mango recipes, including Mango sambar, Mango Pachadi etc
And who can forget Mango Pickles. We had 'Kadukumanga' (Small Mango) pickle, 'Avakkai Manga', 'Manga Thokku', sweet mango pickles etc.
As we grew up, we went in search of our identity and individuality and moved away from our natural habitat. With that, we lost the pleasure of plucking mangos from the trees and eating them. We became 'customers' of Mangos. Though the purchased mangos were not as tasty as the mangos that were plucked from the trees, we did not have much option.
On the brighter side, we were able to taste the fruits from other parts of India.
Mango season in my current city Banglore starts sometime in end of February. 'Raspuri' mangoes are the first ones to arrive in Bangalore. These mangoes are not very tasty and I avoid them. But as Raspuri appears, I wait with bated breath for Badami mangoes which are very, very sweet. By about third week of March, we have very ripe Badami mangoes.
Along with Badami, come the Himayat, another of those very tasty mangoes. Also you have Malgoa and 'Andhra Malgoa', which are some of the biggest mangos that I have seen. It takes about two people to finish one Andhra Malgoa.
And sure enough, you have the most famous of them all, the Alphonso. These are normally exported and are very expensive for Indian standards.
Along with Malgoa, you also have other mangos like Dasari, which comes to Bangalore from the neighbouring state of Maharashtra.
End of mango season in different parts of India is signalled by the arrival of a few types of Mangoes. Here in Bombay, Mangos like Langda, Neelam and Chausa are the last to be seen in Shops. In Bangalore also, we have Neelam to announce the end of the season.
There are many more of these mangos that I don't know of. There are some, like Roomani, that I have heard about, but have not tasted at all. This mango is terribly sour when raw, but deliciously sweet when ripe. The problem is it takes a long time for this fruit to be ripe, and it is difficult to know when it has ripened. Many a Roomani have I thrown out because, they looked ripe from the outside but the first bite was so sour that it was impossible to eat more.
In case you are planning a visit to India, plan it in summer. Sure, it is very hot, sultry, dry, crazy etc...
But to your relish, you get these mangos...
Your choice....

1 comment:

hanumanth said...

dear ramaswamy,
nostalgic memories flood back..tks a lot for the article.
i am also reminded of my childhood in kannur when as a break between hectic bouts of cricket we wd vent the remaining energies on the neighbour's mango tree and victoriously,bring a few down..and enjoy the spoils ..!
in TN: imam pasand is a big draw.