Mango mania is legit. After all, this succulent and ambrosial drupe is India’s National fruit. Almost 500 years ago, it was known as mangai in Tamil Nadu and manga in Kerela, but the Portuguese who colonised India in the 16th century introduced it to the world as ‘Mango’.
The country’s most celebrated mango cultivator, Haji Kalimullah Khan has been growing distinct hybrids of mangoes since 1957 which earned him the moniker, Mango Man. The names of his mango breeds are inspired by celebrities, public figures and politicians like Narendra Modi and Yogi Adityanath. He has nurtured a tree that has yielded 300 varieties of mangoes, each with a distinct flavour and taste. Due to his lifelong dedication towards the fruit as a horticulturist, he was awarded the Padma Shri in 2008.
Let’s talk health
This tropical fruit is exceptionally high in Vitamin A which keeps your skin clear and glowing, apart from providing a slew of nutrients. Disha Jhaveri, Mumbai-based clinical nutritionist says, "Mangoes are the richest source of vitamin A, which is required for the proper functioning of almost all the cells in the body. From benefiting your eyes to enhancing your skin's youthfulness, this summer favourite is brimming with health benefits." The high-fibre content in mangoes makes it the perfect candidate for snacking as it induces feelings of fullness. What more, Jhaveri says that the soluble fibre in mangoes aids digestion and combats constipation.
Well, that’s not all. “Micronutrients in mangoes act like antioxidants which indirectly boosts immunity,” says Kejal Sheth, Nutritionist, Weight Management Expert and Founder of Nutrivity.in. She adds that antioxidant compounds like quercetin, isoquercitrin, astragalin, fisetin, gallic acid, methyl gallate and other enzymes, provide protection against colon, breast, blood, and prostate cancers. She explains, “These antioxidants fight the harmful free radicals in the body. This fruit is also a rich source of dietary fiber called pectin, which inhibits the action of a protein called Galectin 9 that is known to trigger cancer cell growth.”
So Many to Choose from
It’s no news that our country offers an incredible variety of mangoes. According to Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority, India's mango exports are likely to surpass 2017’s and touch the 50,000-tonne mark in the ongoing fiscal. Well, India accounts for approximately 56 per cent of the world’s mango production, boasting of around 283 varieties, out of which only 30 are well known. Click here to set forth on a mangolicious ride!
Picking the Tastiest of Them All
A mango is ready to be eaten when it has a nice soft texture. Colour is a good indicator for certain varieties like Alphonso and Banganapalli; the more yellow or orange, the more it has ripened. The peel need not completely change colour from green to orange or yellow. Opt for ones which are spotted with these hues.
The most important part – the fragrance; always smell your purchase as it indicates if the fruit is ready to be eaten. Finally, test the sap that oozes from the top of the mango where the stem meet the fruit. Squeeze the fruit slightly and if an aromatic sap emerges without much prodding, it needs to be consumed immediately. You can refrigerate ripened ones for up to five days, but they will start losing flavour if kept for too long. Instead, it’s always good to opt for slightly green ones and wait for them to ripen.
How to Store Mangoes the Right Way
Mangoes lose their sweetness when not stored properly and their nutrient content diminishes. Store them well to prolong their shelf life by at least a week and make the most of the mango season.
When not ripe, you can place your mangoes in a ventilated wooden or cardboard box with lots of hay, or in a bin of rice grains. This will fasten the ripening process. Once ripe, they can be refrigerated, but should be consumed within four to five days. Never put unripe in the fridge, because it stops the ripening process.
Eating it right
You can eat this fruit simply by dicing it into bite-sized pieces or slicing them lengthwise and then enjoying the juicy flesh. As for the seed, you could simply scrape the flesh with a spoon. The best way (read, right way) to eat mangoes Jhaveri says is biting directly into the whole fruit, tearing out the skin with your teeth and digging straight into the pulp. Doing this she says helps ensure you get in more fibre into your systems. While you can eat mangoes in their natural form, you can also blend or puree them into smoothies, juices or soups to beat the heat. Their sweetness lends perfectly well to salads and desserts like cupcakes, parfaits and mousses.
How to Include Mango in All your Meals
For mango fans who can’t get enough of this tropical fruit, here are some smart ways to incorporate it in all your meals every day. Yes, you heard that right - from power breakfasts to salad dressings and accompaniments for lunch and dinner. And the big bonus? You will also be able to enjoy the fruit long after the season ends (obviously, till stocks last).
In case you’re craving for something spicy, try this mango chutney which goes well with grilled meats or a spicy cutlet. Whether you like it hot or cold, there’s a mango-flavoured soup for everyone out there. You can also use these yummy salsa dishes starring mango as a filling for your tacos, rolls or sandwiches. Indulge your sweet tooth cravings by treating yourself to these yummy mango cupcakes or dive straight in for this warm bowl of kheer.
If your mangoes are slightly overripe, here are some crafty and lip-smacking ways to use them:
A great breakfast condiment, slather some delish mango jam on hot toast, waffles or pancakes. To make the jam, mix 1 1/2 cups of Alphonso mango pulp with 1/2 cup sugar and one tablespoon lemon juice. Cook on a medium flame for around 12 minutes, or until the mixture thickens and acquires a glossy consistency. Once it’s cooled, transfer the jam into an air-tight jar and refrigerate.
Perfect for a summery salad, mango dressing adds a refreshingly sweet flavour. To make the dressing - In a blender, add one roughly chopped mango, 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, 1/4 cup orange juice, two tbsp honey, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, a clove of garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and mix. Slowly whisk in 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil and then add 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon chopped chilli, two tablespoons finely chopped cilantro. Store in the fridge.
This Gujarati pickle is a great accompaniment with theplas, rotis and pooris. Mix 1 1/3 cups of grated raw mango with one cup of unrefined cane sugar (you can use jaggery as well) in a saucepan and place it over a low flame. Allow the mixture to cook and boil until it thickens to a two-strand consistency – the mixture should look translucent. Next, stir in 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder and 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder. Cool and store in an airtight jar. Store in a cool, dry place.
Lead image conceptualised by Sohail Joshi
Inside Images: Shutterstock
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