Friday, July 16, 2010

Mad about mangoes!

Langra, banganapalle and chausa mangoes
I'm back in Madras, enjoying the company of my family and plenty of delicious home-cooked food! It is funny how only food from my mother's kitchen seems to merit that description, even though I can safely say I have a larger culinary repertoire than hers. Food is always a huge part of any visit home - I always have a long list of foodie experiences to catch up on that I don't have access to in the US.
India is home to the best mangoes in the world, hands down. There are literally hundreds of cultivars in the different growing regions, with eager mango growers developing new and delicious hybrids each year. Alphonso and Pairi mangoes from the west, Chausa and Dashehri from the north, Langra and Himsagar from the east, and Mulgoa and Banganapalle from the south to name just a few. I was doubly excited about this trip home because it meant I could catch the tail end of the mango season here in Madras. Growing up, this was the time of year to look forward to, a time of holidays from school and long lazy days, a precious few months when I could eat my fill of ripe, juicy golden goodness, and savor the memories for the rest of the year.

I arrived in Madras thinking I'd get two weeks of mango eating at the most, since the season ends in mid-July. Happily for me, though, a friend of my father's sent us a box each of two cultivars from other growing regions in India, where the season ends later! This makes for more mango madness. I thought it would be fun to share my tasting notes of the three different types in the picture above.

The langra mango from East India has green skin even when ripe. The fruits are small, weighing less than half a pound each.The flesh is a vivid orange yellow and fibrous in texture, somewhat like a plum. A peppery top-note yields to a tropical pineapple-banana flavor profile.

The chausa mango from North India is small, elongated in shape and has pale yellow skin. The flesh is a medium yellow-orange and buttery-firm in texture, like an avocado. It is perfumed, with hints of honey, lemongrass and vanilla.

The banganapalle mango from South India is large, with some specimens weighing in at over two pounds. The skin is thin and edible, a speckled pale yellow. The flesh is a bright yellow and impossible to eat without juice running down your chin! It has a highly perfumed, almost floral bouquet, with notes of rose, litchi and peach.
A big shout-out to my 6-year-old niece who assisted me on the photo shoot!

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