Mango season has just hit its peak, and the surefire way to tell that is by the price of Alphonso Mangoes. For the last 3 months, those obsessed with all things mango have only been dreaming about their favourite fruit, but finally now their dream has turned into reality, with prices dropping from an unthinkable Rs. 2500 plus to a saner Rs. 400-600 a dozen.
You really can’t miss the lovely sight of the beautiful, ripe, yellow fruits piled precariously high on roadside carts, nestled enticingly in straw-lined baskets at wholesale bazaars, or staring alluringly back at you from the plentiful shelves of fruit shops and supermarkets. Yes, they are everywhere, and we can’t get enough of them!
That’s why mangoes are not just going into milkshakes, smoothies, lassis, yoghurts, ice creams, sorbets, pies, puddings, tarts, mousses and cakes but also into savoury dishes like salads, soups, molès, wraps, curries, salsas, grills and even new-age cocktails with mango foams, vapours and infusions! Of course no one will stop you if you just pick up one, hurriedly peel off the skin and bite into the aromatic orange-yellow flesh, not caring if the juices run down your palms or face, immersed in your own mango heaven!
A less messy way would be to extract the pulp, make a puree out of it and gulp down chilled spoonfuls from a bowl. Little wonder why this, the Aamras, is so popular in the hot 40-plus summer temperatures here. And there are some really cool ‘recipes’, actually quite common in the western part of the country, to make the Aamras bolder and more exciting. In Maharashtra, a sprinkling of fresh Elaichi (Cardamom) powder is added to the pulp for a subtle flavour before blitzing into a smooth puree. In Gujarat, it takes the form of a complete dessert with dried ginger powder (Soth) added with the pulp while blitzing, and then topped off with a dash of hot Ghee. And then there are the Rajasthanis who add a royal touch to the king of fruits by mixing in a few precious strands of Saffron to the the pulp and then hand-churning it to bring out that heady and rich aroma.
Someone wise said ‘With great power comes great responsibility’. Similarly, with a great Aamras comes a greater challenge… of pairing! Ask anyone in the West or North and they will say Aamras goes best with Puri. The South loves it in their puddings. In the East though, the preferred way to have mangoes is Aam-Doodh (just a hand-mashed mix of milk and mango pulp) combined with Muri (puffed rice), Cheerey (flattened rice) or Khoi (popped rice) – sometimes with mashed banana and jaggery to add body. This is heartily consumed for breakfast, as a quick and simple dessert after meals, or sometimes just as a snack!
But there are some pretty nifty pairings with Aamras that are definitely worth trying before this seasonal fruit runs out. Here are a few serving suggestions:
- A bowl of cold Aamras with hot fluffy Chapati, or flaky ghee Paratha
- Aamras mixed with a little milk and sugar spread over crisp, hot wholewheat Toast
- Thick, cold Aamras drizzled liberally on a stack of fluffy Pancakes, and for more indulgence, a little blob of coconut cream on top.
- A warm saucy Aamras spread over steaming hot Idli (seriously!)
- A bowl of Aamras spiked with a little chilli flakes accompanied with crisp Jeera Mathri
So go ahead, pick up a few pieces (or dozens, depending on your obsession!) of mangoes and get your (creative) juices flowing! Its time to get your mango on :)