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The great Indian mango

June 5, 2014

Mango holds a cult value in India. Almost every state in India has a mango variety to offer and the natives are ferociously possessive about them. They will happily guide you on how to slice, dice, eat and enjoy mangoes or the kind of recepies you can make with it.

The mango season here starts in late March and peaks through June. Thereafter, mangoes begin to fade away from the market, leaving fans in want of more.

In a country having approximately 500 to 1000 mango cultivars, it is impossible to describe each of them. This time, I decided to visit the fruit market and see for myself the kind of mangoes picking up for this season.

I was fascinated to see mangoes in such huge quantities, stunned with so many shades. The entire fruit market was flooded with yellow, green and hints of sanguine. I once fancied the thought of relishing all the mangoes varieties available in the market and understand how taste differed.

I started picking mangoes of available varieties. Few of them I knew, while for others I carefully tagged each of them to keep track of the variety.

Honestly speaking, no matter how much I loved this treat, eating all these mangoes in day was beyond my reach. So I finished them over a span of week and observed the taste each time.

Alphonso was bit voluptuous with saffron-coloured pulp covered within sunshine yellow peel. Alphonso is truly ‘King of Mangoes’ with smooth, creamy taste and fibreless pulp. Thanks to Afonso de Albuquerque, a Portuguese nobleman who taught India the technique of grafting mango trees, we are now able to savour such extraordinary mango varieties.

Chaunsa could give Alphonso a run for money, but misses it chance nevertheless. Sher-Shah -Suri named his favorite mango ‘chausa’, to commemorate his win against Humayun at Chausa. This mango is not sliced, like other mangoes. The most traditional way of having Chaunsa is to suck the sweet, juicy pulp out of it.

Totapuri (‘tota’ means “parrot” in Hindi) just like Kesar and Alphonso is one of the main cultivars used for making mango pulp and other processed mango products. They have greenish outer skin and parrot like beak at the tip of the fruit. Not all mangoes taste sweet; Totapuri is an exception with piquant flavor. Its tangy taste and chewy texture tastes delicious with tempered seasoning of salt and chilli.

Dashehari or Dasheri is North India’s favourite mango. It is slightly bulgy and full of succulent sweet pulp that you can gulp down with each bite.  It is believed that Dasheri is the mother of all mango varieties in India that can be genetically traced to this very tree. Malihabad village in Uttar Pradesh is the largest producer of Dasheri mango.

Banganapalli from south India is Andhra Pradesh’s prime fibreless mango variety. It is a moderately juicy, firm and slightly oval shaped having flawlessly thin golden-yellow edible skin.

Kesar comes from Gujarat and is recognizable by golden coloured skin having green overtones. The tempting aroma is intense and hard to ignore. This mango has perfect blend of acidity and sweetness, making its taste unique.

Neelam is particularly famous in Hyderabad. It is small sized, oblong variety with tiny seed and a distinctively floral fragrance.

Peddarasalu or Rasapuri as known in Karnataka makes excellent variety for making mango juices and pulp. It tastes good, but it is very fibrous

Gulab Khas are enveloped in light yellow skin marked with a gorgeous blush. It grows extensively in Bihar and has a rare rosy flavor that refreshes your senses.

I would have loved to try more varieties, but I surrendered here. It was thrilling to be part of a season that brings with it a mania…an obsession among mango lovers.

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