Mangoes flood a sweltering Delhi

Delhi-based organic farm Krishi Cress has mangoes that are sweet with a strong hint of tartness, and the aromas are earthy–reminiscent of the soil that they come from.
Mangoes flood a sweltering Delhi

The dark clouds form every morning and I wake up with a glimmer of hope that it might rain and we Delhi-ites will get some respite from this heatwave, but alas!

Those clouds are carried away by the wind faster than an express train running on stilts. The plants in my balcony, which were once lush green and blooming, are now parched and waiting for the rain gods to have some mercy, so that they can revive and dance to raindrops! But until that happens, the air conditioners and coolers at our homes continue to work overtime.

In my refrigerator rests two kilos of mangoes. Kesar from Gir, to be specific. It is one of my favorite varieties, and Delhi-based organic farm Krishi Cress is my go-to source for these mangoes—sourced directly from the orchards of Gir in Gujarat. A few years ago, when I visited Gir National Forest, our room was surrounded by mango trees where this variety grew and the heady aroma filled our rooms. These mangoes are sweet with a strong hint of tartness, and the aromas are earthy–reminiscent of the soil that they come from.

The latest batch of happy respite reminded me of how mangoes play such a profound role not just in salvaging one of the hottest summers in my memory, but a lot of professional food choices as well. East Delhi based home-chef Kartikeya Sinha agrees that these mangoes are magical. “I love the aroma and the brightly coloured flesh of the Kesar. I use them in salsa, salads and chutneys that I make during this time of the year,” he says. Meanwhile, Tanya Gupta, a baker and founder of Delhi-based patisserie Whisk A Wish, also prefers to use this variety for her mango salsa.

While the salads and the relishes are a sure winner when it comes to using mangoes, the Indian regional dishes boast of a wide repertoire that use mangoes in their preparation. Delhi-based chef consultant, Ruchira Hoon, excitedly shares, “I think different mangoes have different uses. If I am making the Gujarati mango kadhi ‘fajeto’, I use Payri. For aamras I prefer Kesar rather than the usual Alphonso. I also love the Banganapalli from the south of India which I use to make mor kozhambu.’’ As is naturally evident, the diversity of the mango is regal—but what’s most interesting is how opinions and preferences around it are so diverse. Some, as referenced above as well, make it to savoury dishes too.

A chef and the owner of Music and Mountains Cafe in Greater Kailash, Parul Pratap’s favourite is the Langda, which is used to make shrimp curry. “Especially when it hits the market, the younger fruits are a bit tart, perfect for a nice coconut shrimp curry, with long slices of langda, I keep the skin on, so after you’ve eaten, you can eat the mango off the skin, it’s completely infused with the curry and at times even eat the skin since it’s softened while cooking,” she shares.

Meanwhile, Chittaranjan Park-based Assamese home-chef Sneha Lata Saikia shares about the traditional aloo pitika (potato mash) from Assam; she makes aam aloo pitika during summers. “To boiled and mashed potatoes, I add grated raw mangoes, finely chopped onions, green chillies, mint leaves, salt and few drops of raw mustard oil. I then mix it and have it with my meals.”

While it all heroes the King of Fruit, reservations around regional varieties make its most popular entities a polarising affair. Surabhi Sinha, a food enthusiast from Gurugram, says: “I only prefer the Langra and Chausa here only because I can’t get the yummy varieties from my home state of Bihar.” Her favourite dish to make with these mangoes? “I make my annual favourite called ‘aam doodh’ when Langda or Malda and Chausa come into the market.” Through it all, I have come to realise that even in this heat, it is the mango that keeps inspiring me to rediscover the joy of meals. The fresh aroma that surrounds my home is an added bonus.

Vernika Awal

is a food writer who is known for her research-based articles through her blog ‘Delectable Reveries’

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