Wednesday

the mango seduction

Universally, the month of March heralds the onset of spring. In the western parts of India, especially Maharashtra, it brings the song of the Koel – and the fragrance of mangoes.

In fact, the annual love affair with mango starts early February. The environs of a mango grove are heavy with warm, heady scent of mango blossom. This attracts several birds, not to speak of honey bees and butterflies.

As time goes on, one sees little green fruits hanging from the tree. The birds and squirrels are especially interested in the fruit. So are we.


Raw mangoes invade the senses and homes of Maharashtrians. So much so, that there is a separate name for the unripe sour green fruit – ‘kairi’.

One can eat a kairi as it is, with a pinch of salt. Or pickle it in variety of seasonings and spices. Preserve it in sugar syrup. Grate it and prepare tangy chutneys. Add tiny pieces to ‘bhel’. Prepare a refreshing drink from boiled raw mango. My favorite is the ‘kairi chi daal’ – a preparation of ground, soaked chickpea gram and grated kairi, seasoned with salt, sugar, green chillies and a dash of fresh coriander. The beauty of this dish is that it does not involve any cooking.


Meanwhile the ripening raw mangoes on the trees start showing streaks of yellow and red. This is when they are removed from the trees and stored - usually in bales of straw – giving rise to golden fruit with a heavenly perfume.

Several varieties of mangoes are grown in India. The best I have ever tasted is the variety of Alphonso that comes from parts of Ratnagari and Devgadh, on the western coast of peninsular India in the month of May.


There is something very sensual about eating an Alphonso whole.

Select a good firm Alphonso mango. The skin is golden, smooth and warm to touch. Voluptuous. Close your eyes and bring the rind to touch your cheek, as you inhale the sweet aroma that proclaims this particular specimen as the genuine ‘hapus’. Wash the mango and pat dry. Start peeling the skin by working your fingernails around the base of the stem. Soon enough of skin comes off that can be gripped by the teeth. Once most of the skin is torn off, bite into the orange yellow flesh. Let the juice dribble down the chin as more chunks are greedily grabbed off the fruit. Finally you will reach the seed which is to be sucked on, to get the very last morsels of this tasty delight.

You take a look at your mango drenched hands and wonder – is this how Macbeth felt?



© Alaka

4 comments:

  1. I miss "Kairi" so much.....thanks for this post.

    But do you really remember Macbeth after eating Mango????

    Even Shakespeare wouldn't remember his characters after having a hapus.......

    Btw, in Gujarati also, the term is Kairi (pronouned with a softer-sweeter Gujarati accent of course!).

    And you didn't talk about the most common "Aamras" !!!!

    What about other species of mango, "Langda", "Rajapuri", "Kesar"...give some more recipees....

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  2. Indeed there is something sensual about eating Hapus Mangoes.
    Your engrossing writing makes me yearn for hapus mangoes.

    Vikram

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  3. After reading this I am doubly eager for the amngoes of the season to arrive :-).


    One more delicious way to have 'hapus' whole, is:

    Without removing the skin, Hold it by placing your finger on the top ( on the black dot where the fruit was connected to the branch) and the thumb at the bottom end.

    Then press it with fingers of the other hand and go on rotating it along its axis.

    Continue with this till you can move the seed inside around one full roatation without moving the fruit.

    Then luck out the black dot at the top and drink the delicious hapus aamras (mango juice) ..

    Yummy!!!

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  4. Kandarp,
    you've accorded the greatest compliment to the mango!

    btw, I have spoken of ways in which a raw mango can be eaten, so aamras does not figure – nor do milkshakes, ‘amrakhand’, ‘amba poli’, etc. :)

    Vikram, thanx for a peep into this blog. Hope you'll find lots more interesting stuff out here.

    Neel, that was the whole idea..food is sso exciting!

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