This post is about mangoes. And eating mangoes. But I am going to share a little story first. But I’ll give a picture of mangoes in hopes you will not stray from the page.
My great-grandmother was a really wonderful person. She was the only person I knew who didn’t have a jealous bone in her body. She passed away when I was in twelfth grade, and I still think about her often. She had 5 children, and twice the number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was also the only person I knew who was always genuinely happy and pleasant. Mainly because all she wanted in life was to see everyone around her happy, well-fed and well-settled.
She was a strict vegetarian and never even looked at a piece of meat or fish in her life. Until one day, when we had one of our summer family potlucks, I was grabbing a chicken leg from a plate of biryani (so my cousin wouldn’t get to it, of course!) and I bumped into her and dropped that masala and ghee laden chicken leg right into her lap, on her snow-white saree. Pretty much everyone gasped- they didn’t know how she would react. But she just laughed, said ‘Oh my god! Now someone please clean this up,’ and looked at me and said ‘It’s ok. If kids don’t spill, who will?”
She was also a severe diabetic- she was supposed to control her intake of root vegetables and natural sugars in addition to regular sweets and chocolates. But she had a secret stash of Cadbury’s chocolate in her room. I don’t know if anyone else knew, but I did. She loved mangoes too, and never passed them up during the season. She also taught me how to relish them, Kerala-style. She’d take one of these small, fibrous mangoes that grew in our garden, slice the skin off the top and squeeze the juice all over a small mound of red rice and eat it with a pinch of salt. I know it may sound like a strange combination, but it’s pretty darn good. Comfort food, Kerala-style- and it couldn’t get simpler. Those mangoes are small and green, and are great for curries. But most of the time, we’d just slice a bit off the top, and squeeze out the flesh and juice by hand, kind of like eating Fla-Vor-Ice popsicles.
The flavour and juice of mangoes go very nicely with rice, and I made this chutney in an attempt to capture that. There is no coconut or onion to give it texture, so it is a viscous chutney which feels more like a spiced puree. But that is kind of what I was aiming for. I added ginger and green chilli for extra heat.
MANGO & GINGER CHUTNEY
- 1 medium to large sized mango, roughly cubed (Use a mango which is not too ripe- the flesh should be firm and a little tart.)
- 1 1-inch piece ginger root, peeled and roughly diced
- 1 green chilli, sliced
- A few curry leaves
- 1 tablespoon oil (I used coconut oil because it’s the backbone of Kerala cuisine and flavors- but you can use any flavorless oil as well.)
- Salt to taste
- Heat the oil in a shallow pan. Once it gets hot, add the curry leaves. Once they crisp up a bit, add the ginger and green chilli.
- As the ginger softens and turns a slight golden hue, turn the heat to medium and add the cubed mango pieces.
- Swirl it around, not more than a minute, stirring gently so that the flavors infuse and the mango begins to release it’s juices. You just want to soften the mangoes a little, not break them down.
- Pull off heat, and blitz in your blender till it becomes pulpy. Add salt to taste.
Allow to cool before consuming. It tastes good with a little plain rice, but I sometimes eat it like a dipping sauce with plain tortilla chips or tapioca chips.