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While Mumbaikars are busy wiping up bowls of aamras (pulp of haapus or Alphonso mangoes), Kolkatans are waiting to devour on the season’s best langda. But, this is not about the Alphonso versus langda debate.

Mangoes arrive fairly late in Bengal. But, that does not deter a Bong mom (like mine) to rustle up a fish curry or a daal with raw mango in the hot summer months of May and June. A simple everyday tempering elevates these dishes, and a meal is complete with a combination of tok (sour), jhaal (spicy) and mishti (sweet) items, which in turn provides the perfect excuse for ghoom or an afternoon siesta.

These dishes are a favourite in most homes and sum up a Bengali summer.

Aam Porar Shorbot

aam porar sherbot

If Maharashtrians have aam panna, Bengalis have aam porar shorbot. However, the recipe is vastly different. In the Bengali recipe, mangoes are first roasted on a gas stove, just like baingan bharta until the peel gets a good char. It is then removed, and the pulp is blended in a mixer with sugar, salt and bhaja moshla or a toasted spice blend. A sugary and sour flavour of the drink acts as a perfect thirst quencher on hot days.

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Ingredients

1 medium size raw mango (whatever is available in your city)

1/2 cup sugar (depends how sugary you want)

1/2 tspsalt

1 tsp bhaja moshla (toasted cumin & dried red chillies ground into powder)

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Method

- Roast the mango on a gas stove until the peel is charred.

- Remove the peel and put it in a blender. If it is tough, pressure cook for one whistle.

- Add sugar, salt and bhaja moshla to the mango puree. Blend into a puree.

- Serve in a glass by adding some water as per the consistency you like.

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Aamer Tok Daal

tok daal

As a hungry kid, who hated her shuktos and torkaris, I remember waiting for summers to arrive simply because of the variety of dishes that mum would cook up using mangoes. In this, masoor dal or red lentils is prepared with sliced raw mangoes and a five spice or paanch phoron tempering. A Bengali tok dal has a distinct sweet and sour flavour to it, and pairs best with hot rice with a side of alu bhaaj or potato fry.

Ingredients

1 bowl masoor dal

2-3 slices of raw mango

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp sugar

1 dried red chilli

1 tsp paanch phoron

1 tbsp oil

Salt as per taste

Method

- Pressure cook the dal for one whistle. Let it be thick in consistency.

- In a wok, heat some oil and put the paanch phoron followed by the dried red chilli. Let them crackle.

- Add the mango slices and fry for a minute.

- Put salt, sugar and turmeric powder.

- Add the boiled dal and let it simmer for 3-4 minutes.

- Serve with rice.

Tok Maacher Jhol

maacher jhol

This tok maacher jhol is testimony to the fact that Bengalis love mangoes as much as their fish curries. The curry is typically prepared with kaatla or rohu, however some recipes also call for smaller varieties like morola and punti. The subtle tanginess from the raw mangoes gives the curry a characteristic flavour to an otherwise frugal preparation best enjoyed with groom bhaat or hot rice.

Ingredients

1 medium sized rohu or kaatla (or any freshwater fish that you prefer)
1 big onion, ground to a paste

4-5 thin slices of raw mango

1/2 tsp red chilli powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1 1/2 tbsp oil

Salt as per taste

Method


- Coat the fish with turmeric and salt.

- Heat oil in a wok and lightly fry the fish. Remove.

- In the same oil, put the cumin seeds, followed by the onion paste.

- Fry the onions well. Add salt, red chilli powder and green chilli.

- Now add the mango slices and cook for a few minutes.

- Add water and make a gravy.

- Add the fried fish and simmer for a couple of minutes.

Kaancha Aamer Chaatni

mango chutney

Although Bengalis love their tomato and date chutney, they like to savour a sugary raw mango chaatni every summer. Mangoes are cut lengthwise for this, and then cooked in a tempering of mustard seeds, dried red chillies and a copious amount of sugar. The chutney is then seasoned with bhaja moshla. It’s a personal favourite because I have not eaten a chutney as unique as this, and also because it was the one thing that mum managed to lure me with on days when the meal didn’t seem exciting.

1 medium raw mango, sliced in chunks

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 dried red chilli

1/2 cup sugar (depends how sugary you want)

1/2 tsp bhaja moshla

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp oil

Method

- Heat some oil in a wok.

- Put the mustard seeds and red chilli and let them crackle.

- Add the mangoes and cook for a few minutes.

- Put salt and turmeric powder.

- Add some water followed by the sugar.

- Cover with a lid and let it simmer until mangoes are tender.

- Garnish with bhaja moshla.


Aamshotto

aamshotto

Aamshotto is a childhood favourite as eating sweet-somethings one layer at a time seemed fun. Aam papad for the rest of the country, aamshotto is prepared in a similar manner by layering ripe mango pulp on a thin plate or tray and leaving it in the sun to dry for days. Considering the time consuming process it involves, women in small towns and villages still follow the practice when summer is at its peak. Just like pickles, aamshotto is a way to preserve mangoes, and is used in making the Bengali favourite Tomato Khejur Aamshottor Chutney throughout the year.

Ingredients

3 large ripe mangoes, make sure they are sweet enough so that you don't have to add any sugar

Method

- Make a puree of the mangoes in a blender.

- Strain the pulp for any fibre.

- Take a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the puree in a thin layer.

- Bake in a pre-heated oven at the lowest temperature possible for 5-6 hrs or until it is completely dry.

- Cut it into strips and roll up and store.

Alternatively, if you are lucky to live in a house with ample sunshine, you can dry the same under direct sunlight until it is dry.

Images courtesy: Tok Daal and cover image from the author; Maacher Jhol from Flickr; other Images Shutterstock

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