Tuesday, July 14, 2009

On Mangoes

Our summers were incomplete without mangoes. Goes without saying. Each vacation we spent in Kerala, it was a vacation soaked in Cashew, Cashew-nuts, Jackfruit, Pineapple and Mangoes. Out of all the mangoes, one of them was our favourite.

Before you think Hapus, Banganapalli, Neelam or any of the other exotic varieties, let me introduce you to perhaps the lowliest of all mangoes. It does not find mention in this piece either, afaik.

Now, this mango is of smallish size, very sweet, but to top it - unlike other mangoes has a sourish almost orangy tang to it. The pulp is not completely smooth. It has a stringy feel to it when you bite (which makes it not a good thing for pickles or connoisseurs). The strings, like the fibre of a mosambi, can get get stuck in the gaps between your teeth and as you bite it, it feels like you are biting a closely woven mango nest. That's the best I can describe it. But, worthless as these mangoes were, they were all over our yards. Nobody plucked them - since they were never a choice for pickle. The birds had their fill and left many for us. The adults never bothered, so we found many mangoes and ate our fill.These mangoes are often green when ripe. But its peels are soft and quite edible (works very well for lazy chaps like kids) and if you want to peel it, a little tug with your front teeth makes the peel come off gloriously easily. And, if you do that, it is one gloriously drippy pulpy fruit you have in your hands. I doubt if anybody bothered to give them a name - other than the typical nadan (local) - if you happen to know, please let me know.

The bonus of it is that you can make a mean sambar (yes) and morukootan (yes) with them and that is the second absolutely most delightful thing that can be made IMO to be had with rice. (The first goes to shallot sambar, but that's for another day)

But like many childhood memories are never found in supermarkets, I forgot about these mangoes for a long time. Our ancestral property was sold off and off they went into the recycle bin of memory, until I discovered them again, quite by supreme chance.

We were driving by a farm and found a bunch of mangoes totally unripe. We asked someone and they said, "Oh, that one, that's a local one. It is stringy". We were disappointed hearing that since the only tree we came across with mangoes was this one. But, by then, we had plucked a few, so we decided to take it home anyway. At home, it ripened over time and I happened to taste one.

And that's when all the memories came back...


Preetha Nair said...

ooo.....I know them too :)
those pulpy small little ones..!!

This post brought back a thousand memories of summer vacations...
thanks :)

Kavi said...

Ah memories. Of the strands between teeth. And careless abandon of having a few more. Despite !

Brought a world of memories