Its once again mango season. For me, mangoes bring in loads of childhood memories and nostalgia. I grew up in farm houses which were filled with mango trees, jack fruits, plantains, bananas and a whole lot of veggies. This is that time of the year when an school going kid is extremely happy. The reason behind this happiness and smile is that the much awaited summer vacations are due in March. Two and half months of enjoyment, adventure, movies, outing and nonstop play times are the highlight of this season. I have enjoyed these with my cousins and those memories are the most treasured ones. You might be thinking what connection does it have with this mango curry, right??? Yes it has a lot of connections. We used to spend a good amount of time climbing the mango tress, plucking out the mangoes and having it with salt and chilli powder. Some of the huge, years old mango trees were our hide outs for the hide and seek game. I could go on and on with the endless stores and fun we had. I’m sure many of you, who are of my generation would have gone through the same excitement and fun times during those era.
I have been striving hard for the last one year as my sons are in grade X and XII. Literally there is no spare time ( not even watching the daily news) nor any relaxation time for me. Blogging was the only window where I got to express myself and this was the only “me time” I had to myself. So when my hubby bought back with him the home grown mangoes, a flush of memories rushed back to me putting a smile on my face. Once more it was reassured that the childhood is one of the best times of your life and mangoes are one of my much preferred fruit.
India is a land of mangoes. Mangoes have delighted people’s senses with their sweet fragrance and flavor for ages. It is believed that mangoes originated here along with some Southeast Asian countries. History has documented that, Hindu writings dating back 4000B.C. mentions about mangoes. Buddhist monks cultivated the fruit and in fact, the mango is considered to be a sacred fruit in the region because is is said that Buddha himself meditated under a mango tree. The mango belongs to the same family as the cashew and pistachio nut.
The earliest name given to the mango was Amra-Phal. It is also referred to in early Vedic literature as Rasala and Sahakara, and is written about in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and the Puranas, which condemn the felling of mango trees. On reaching South India, the name translated to Aam-Kaay in Tamil, which gradually became Maamkaay due to differences in pronunciation. The Malayali people further changed this to Maanga. The Portuguese were fascinated by the fruit on their arrival in Kerala and introduced it to the world as Mango.
In ancient India, the ruling class used names of mango varieties to bestow titles on eminent people – like the honour given to the famous courtesan of Vaishali, Amra Pali. The mango tree was also associated with the god of love, Manmatha, and its blossoms were considered to be the god’s arrows by the Hindu Nanda Kings. It was during the Nanda rule that Alexander arrived in India and fought the famous battle with King Porus. When it was time for him to return to Greece, he took with him several varieties of the delicious fruit.
With the rise of Buddhism, mangoes came to represent faith and prosperity among the religion’s followers, as there were several legends about the Buddha and mango trees. Among Buddhist rulers, mangoes were exchanged as gifts and became an important tool of diplomacy. During this period, Buddhist monks took mangoes with them wherever they went, popularising the fruit.
Megasthenes and Hsiun-Tsang, the earliest writer-travellers to ancient India, wrote about how the ancient Indian kings, notably the Mauryas, planted mango trees along roadsides and highways as a symbol of prosperity. They also wrote about the incredible taste of the fruit, bringing the mango to the notice of people outside India. The Munda tribals and the Dattaraya sect of Swamy Chakradhar were also instrumental in taking this decadent fruit to the masses of ancient India.
In the medieval period, Alauddin Khilji was the first patron of the mango and his feast in Sivama Fort was a real mango extravaganza with nothing but mangoes in different forms on the lavish menu. Next came the Mughal Emperors, whose fondness for the mango is legendary. The obsessive love for mango was, in fact, the only legacy that flowed untouched from one generation to another in the Mughal dynasty.
Over the ages, the mango became a household fruit and odes were sung in its praise. Rabindranath Tagore was extremely fond of mangoes and has written several poems about the fragrant flowers of mangoes, including the very famous aamer monjori. Legendary Urdu poet Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib was a mango aficionado too; he despised people who didn’t share his addiction for the fruit.
Today, the curvaceous shape of mangoes, which has long held the fascination of weavers and designers, has become an iconic Indian motif. The mango is seen as a symbol of good luck and prosperity and in many parts of India mango leaves are strung up over the front doors of homes as Toran.
India boasts of different varieties of delicious mangoes from small ping-pong size mangoes to large ones that weighs half a kilo. Mangoes are used in Indian culinary, right from the baby stage to the ripe forms. An assortment of edible scrumptious delicacies are made with raw and ripe mangoes. So raising a toast for this mango season I’m starting with a simple raw mango delicacy today. This is a curry which is made my aunt and has gained applause. Sour, firm ripe mangoes are used for this. Moovandan mangoes, as addressed in our place is usually taken for this curry. You can go in for any raw firm sour mangoes for this.
This is an instant curry which can be made in a nod as goes well with rice. This can also be made as a side accompaniment for your thali. Since the mangoes of sour nature, I make it spicy to cut through the sourness. I always use fresh first and second coconut milk for this. Theres nothing much to say about this dish and to take care of. More and more exciting mango dishes will be up in my website and channel soon. Keep tracking all those delights and enjoy your comestic journey!!!
Peel, wash and cut the mangoes in large chunks. Julienne the shallots, garlic and ginger. Slit the chillies.
Extract the first and second milk of coconut.
Add the mangoes in the cooking pot. Add all the ingredients except the first extract of coconut milk.
Combine everything and cook till mangoes are soft.
Once well done, add the first extract of coconut milk and reduce the flame to bare minimum. Keep stirring the curry so as not to split the milk.
Heat a pan with coconut oil. Add the mustard seeds and allow to crackle. Add the chillies and curry leaves. Pour on to the curry and give a mix.
Serve hot with rice.