Mango

Mango

By
Anna Bergenström, Fanny Bergenström
Contains
21 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742702070
Photographer
Fanny Bergenström

We’ll always remember the mango trees in India …

What were those magnificent trees? As the train wound its way through the Indian landscape, we passed by one lush green and exquisitely shaped tree after another. In the shade, man and beast alike would sit and rest for a while, under majestic crowns virtually groaning with fruit.

We had never seen such grand mango trees before, and were stunned by their beauty. They embodied the very image of a tree. Ever since that first, magical trip to India, the mango has found a given place as one of our favourite fruits. Not only because of its luscious, delicate sweetness and smooth texture, but also because of its sheer beauty...

There are hundreds of different types of mango. One of the finest varieties is the Indian Mangifera indica, which has been cultivated since 2000 BC and is a descendant of a wild-growing variety that still thrives in the forests of India. The Indian mango has always been surrounded by myth and legend, one being that Buddha himself was so fond of the fruit that he had his own mango grove to meditate in. The Hindu scriptures, known as the Vedas, refer to the mango as ‘food of the gods’, and for centuries mangoes were prestigious status symbols among rajahs and other Indian nobles, who planted countless mango trees as proof of their affluence. The mango – fruit, leaves and blossoms – still forms a significant part of Indian rituals and ceremonies to this day.

At first, mango was only cultivated in Asia, but Portuguese explorers took the fruit to Africa in the 1700s, and from there it eventually spread to Brazil and the Caribbean. These days, large-scale producers of mango include Mexico, Venezuela, Australia and the United States.

Red, yellow or tart green mangoes

Mangoes can vary greatly in shape, colour and flavour. There are beautifully blushed mangoes, as well as red, yellow, green and almost purplish-pink ones. Certain varieties are nearly round while others are flat and pointy; some are sweeter and others quite tart… A perfectly ripe mango should have silky smooth flesh that is almost slippery to the touch.

The mango flesh is attached to a large, oblong stone in its centre. To get around it, cut the unpeeled mango in half lengthwise as close to the stone as possible. Next, cut the flesh of each ‘cheek’ in a crisscross pattern, but not all the way through the skin. Turn the skin inside out so that the flesh opens up, separating the pieces. Serve the mango as is, or carefully cut off the squares into little cubes.

Another way is to neatly peel the entire mango with a sharp knife, and then cut off each ‘cheek’ as close to the stone as possible. Cut the remaining flesh from the stone and then slice or cut the mango as desired.

Green mangoes are simply firm, unripe mangoes, which are very popular in India and South-East Asia. Green mango is often pickled or preserved, and frequently used fresh in salads or served as a snack with salt, fish sauce or dried chilli powder. Green mango is crunchy and quite tart compared to the lush sweetness of ripe yellow mango.

Amchur is an Indian powder made from dried mango used in traditional cooking to provide a certain acidity. It is used in spice mixes or sprinkled over the Indian lentil stew, dal.

Mango chutney and pickle are two lovely accompaniments to Indian food. The chutneys in India are often made with fresh mango, and seldom as sweet as the ones we buy in jars. Pickled mango is frequently quite spicy, with lots of chilli.

A soft piece of dried natural mango is a tropical delight, and a healthy sweet snack. The variety from the Philippines is a firm favourite with us.

Featured Recipes in this Chapter

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