Mangoes of India

by Sanjeev Kapoor

Yes, Alphonso mangoes are delicious – juicy, pulpy, refreshing and sweet, eating them is almost therapeutic – there are no two ways about it. However this obsession with just this one variety of mango doesn’t seem fair – especially when we grow more than a 1000 varieties in our country. If you ever visit a mango farm and have the chance to understand the grafting process and the number of hybrids you can get on just one tree- you would never stick to eating just one kind of Mango! Let me introduce you to 5 of my favourite lesser known Indian mangoes that are waiting for their long awaited due!

Imam Pasand                                       

Also known as Himayun Pasand, this one was a favourite amongst the Royals in Andhra Pradesh and for all the right reasons.  Soft, sweet, fibreless and extremely juicy these ones mangoes have been designed only and only for sweet pleasure. Try something as simple as adding chunks of them over ice cream (skip vanilla – try dark chocolate or mint instead) and you will know exactly what I mean. Priced at about Rs.80 – Rs.120/ kg these delicious ones are a steal.

Mulgoba

With each mango weighing up to 2-3 kilograms when ripe –the Mulgoba or Malgova is the sumo of Indian mango varieties. These large green mangoes with red spots and a thin skin are not typically sweet. Even when ripe they have slight sour overtones which work brilliantly when you use them in milkshakes, pickles and preserves! Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are the main cultivators of this variety which lets you enjoy mango season without burning a hole in your pocket – they come at around 80 bucks/ kg.

Shakkar Gutli

 These small tiny fibrous mangoes are prized in South India where they are used to make a delicious mango curry. Shakkar gutli mangoes, contrary to the name aren’t very sweet which works out brilliantly in the sweet-tangy-spicy combination of South Indian upakaris and gojjus! These mangoes have a lot of fibre around the large seed which soak up all the flavours of the curry – this one demands you to get down and dirty to eat them! Locally grown all over the south the prices may vary, but they are definitely on the cheaper side of the mango scale. 

Gulab Khaas

 The literal translation of the name from Hindi to English is the best way to explain its attributes. Native to Bihar, the Gulab Khaas has an attractive rosy blush, aroma and flavour when ripe – making them way more special than your average Alphonso! With very little fibre and plenty of juicy flesh - they are great as a table fruit and to make mango desserts where you need lots of sweet mango pulp.  The cultivators of this particular mango grow over 350 hybrid varieties, but this one remains a long standing favourite! You can buy these online at about Rs.100/ kg.

Vadu Mangai

These raw baby mangoes are harvested exclusively for pickling. Vadu Mangai is really tiny, slightly oblong in shape with a smooth irregular surface, dark green colour and thick skin.  They have a very tart earthy taste and a slight grainy mouth feel which very different from regular raw mangoes. The Vadu Mangai pickle is deliciously evil and makes you forget all sense of proportion and pleasure! They cost anywhere between 120 – 200 INR/ kg and you do get a lot in quantity! 

How to choose the perfect mangoes!

 

Picking the right mangoes can be a task and you don’t want to end up with a batch that doesn’t satisfy you the way they should! Here are 6 standard tips to keep in mind, so you can pick up the best ones in whatever variety that you chose!

 

  • Colour is not necessarily an indication of ripeness in a mango. Some varieties remain green even when they are ripe, while others turn golden or bright red or a combination.
  • Buy unblemished fruit with no black marks on the skin. Firm mangoes with bright skin should be picked up.
  • Ripe and ready for the table mangoes have a sweet smell at the stem end. It is okay to smell a fruit at the stem end to help you decide whether it is ready for consumption.
  • To test the mango for ripeness, press the narrow end lightly. The flesh should yield to the pressure.
  • If you have a batch of not-so-ripe, sour mangoes keep them at room temperature open to the air for a few days. The skin will gradually brighten and the mangoes will start smelling sweet.
  • Mangoes are best not refrigerated during the ripening process. But once fully ripe, they are best stored in the fridge for up to a week’s time.
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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.