This summer, give the safedas, langdas and sindooris a pass and sample these five unusual mango varieties from across India for a new kind of sumptuous experience, suggests celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor
Yes, alphonso mangoes are delicious – juicy, pulpy, refreshing and sweet. However, the obsession with just one variety of mango doesn’t seem fair – especially when we grow more than 1,000 varieties in our country! If you ever visit a mango farm and have the chance to understand the grafting process as well as the number of hybrids you can get on just one tree, you would never stick to only one kind of mango. Let me introduce you to five of my favourite – and largely unheard of – varieties of India’s most popular summer fruit.
Also known as Humayun pasand, this one was a favourite among the royals of Andhra Pradesh. Soft, sweet, fibreless and extremely juicy, this mango variety seems to have been designed for sweet pleasure alone. Try adding chunks of it to ice cream (dark chocolate or mint) and you will know what I mean. Priced at about `80 to 120 per kg, this super-delicious mango is a real steal!
The literal translation of the name of this mango in English is the best way to describe its attributes. Native to Bihar, the gulab khaas mango has an attractive, rosy blush, aroma and flavour when ripe, making it a lot more special than your average alphonso! With very little fibre and plenty of juicy flesh, this one works great as a table fruit and can also be used to make desserts that require plenty of sweet mango pulp. The cultivators of this one remains my long-standing favourite. You can buy gulab khaas mangoes online at approximately `100 per kg.
With each mulgoba mango weighing up to 3 kg when ripe, this variety is, quite literally, the sumo of Indian mangoes. Large, green, covered in red spots and with deliciously thin skin, this mango is not typically sweet. Even when fully ripe, it has a sour accent that works brilliantly if you use it to make milkshakes or pickles. Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are among the main cultivators of this variety, which you can relish at `80 per kg.
Grown primarily in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, the fajri mango is among the bigger Indian mango varieties, with each piece weighing approximately 1 kg on an average. Oblique and oval in shape, it remains bright green even when completely ripe. This is also a late season variety with comparatively less aroma and fibreless pulp. What distinguishes it from others of its ilk is its sweet, almost honey-like taste that makes it ideal as a table fruit. It’s best enjoyed as itself, without anything to distract you from its sweet pleasure and is a steal at around `80 per kg!
These raw baby mangoes are harvested exclusively for pickling. A vadu mangai mango is really small, slightly oblong in shape, with a smooth though irregular surface, thick skin and a dark green colour. It has an earthy taste and a slightly grainy feel on the tongue – very different from regular raw mangoes. The vadu mangai pickle, a delicacy in South India, is sinfully lip-smacking and makes you forget all sense of proportion and pleasure! This variety costs anywhere between `120 – 200 per kg.
The author is a Padma Shri awardee chef and the views expressed in this article are his own