It’s raining mangoes in Bangalore. Roadsides are decorated by juicy fruit stalls proudly displaying the many varieties of mangoes from Langda, to Badam to Daseri , to Baiganapallli to the more elite Alphonsos, mangoes of every hue and size await the customer.
The kind of mangoes that I remember growing up with are differently called like the pulpy and juicy ‘moovandan’, to the seemingly less classy’ ottu manga’ usually reserved for the mango chutney, the rich and supposedly royal ‘neelam’, the rather too common ‘gomanga’, the small and juicy variety which can be finished in one slurp called’ chakara manga’ or the common ‘nattu manga’.
School holidays were spent roaming the ‘parambu’ picking up ripe mangoes, unripe tamarind, ripe cashew fruits, fallen gooseberries and trading gooseberries for the ripe and tangy blushing fruits called ‘champakka’. It’s only in my aunts house that I have had the rare fruit which was called ‘lubikka’.
Mashu as my aunt’s father was fondly called was a good farmer and his home and garden an endless resource for yummy delights. Fenced with pineapple shrubs, with a pond to jump into and charcoal powder to brush your teeth with, ripe black pepper seeds to munch on, endless treats of lubikka, champakka, jackfruit, mangoes and pineapples, chips of all varieties and some bakery items and the delicious ‘unakkalari appam made in pure ghee’, life took a different turn at Kalammai’s house.
Back at Kopparambil though, we concentrated our energies on roasting cashew nuts away from the prying eyes of grand father, munching on the salted and unsalted varieties of tamarind seeds, simply swinging merrily on the branches of trees or generally lying beneath the single fan in the house watching the blades cruise by with a slow whirring sound.
After rushing through our customary one-page writing in English and Malayalam , without ever pausing to think over what we wrote, we would all rush out to play ice-ice, hot-hot, sky-water-land, or akasham, bhoomi, patalam,hide and seek and other such games.
Famished after lots of running around ,huge servings of jack fruits, more mangoes, roasted/boiled tapioca, roasted/boiled raw banana, roasted/boiled jack fruit seeds, with or without chutney was just the evening snack we could have wanted.
The white powdery texture of roasted tapioca glazed with the aroma of charcoal is nothing short of heavenly!
In Kerala the unripe mango is used mostly for making chutney, to add tanginess to curries, and to make pickles. The raw mango pieces preserved in brine and sold by the local push cart vendors have many die-hard fans.
It was in Indore that I learnt more about the versatility of the king of fruits -varieties of ‘aam ka murabba’ – unripe mangoes preserved in sugar syrup,Kalonji/ a mango pickle variety, the supremely delicious and refreshing drink called aam ka panna and the ever useful aamchur which is essentially powdered mango seed.
Quick, easy to make and healthy and tasty all at once, aam ka panna is a delightful summer drink!
Aam Ka Panna, manna for summer times!
Take 1 pulpy raw mango. Wash it thoroughly and cook it up in a pressure cooker. Leave the mango to cool. Once it is cool, extract the pulp of the mango after skinning it. Run the pulp in a mixer. Take out the smoothed pulp and preserve it in fridge in a neat jar. To make your glass or two of aam ka panna,take 1 or 2 tsp full of pulp, depending upon its tanginess, add water. To this add a pinch of jeera powder, crushed jaggery or sugar, 1 or 2 crushed pudina leaves, a pinch of rock salt, salt- according to your taste. Mix well and your drink to drive away the heat is at hand.