The mango season is in full swing at our place. Road sides are lined up with countless baskets of the local variety of Haphooz aka Alphonso. This year has been a bumper crop and the rates are falling fast. The variety which was 1800 a dozen has come down to 200. State of affairs is that people have stopped plucking them and are letting them fall off on their own.

I have two mango trees behind my house and none of them are Haphooz. It is a local variety called “pairi”. I haven’t tasted a tastier mango all my life. If you want to fall in love with mango then you have to taste this. I get into my Bermuda and sandow baniyan, chill the mangoes, “ghulao” them nicely, squeeze those two drops of white liquid out, close my eyes and suck the pulp out, then pop out the gootli, slurp it till its white. Then catch the rest of the skin between the teeth and pull till every drop has been squeezed out, finally bite the rear end and repeat. My desi way of mango eating.

I just can’t stand the Army way of eating a mango where you get a slice and have to scoop it with your spoon. Being the food member I used to wink at the Mess Havildar so that he doesn’t throw the goothli’s away.

My daughter has a different issue with mangoes. She can’t eat sweet ones and loves only “khatta” ones. Imagine going to a shop and saying “bhaiya khatte aam dena”, sounds ridiculous. If one eye automatically shuts with a wink for me and my wife, means that this mango is fit for my daughter.

My favourite is the mint-coriander-raw mango chutney. My wife is an expert but she has a problem that I need kebabs as accompaniments with it. To be frank it is her favourite too.

The harvest from our tree was close to 60 dozens. We kept about 20 odd pieces for ripening the rest we shared. Today the whole house smells of mangoes, even the milk emanates mango flavour.

Wife has already made a lot of aamchoor. She makes aam-panna daily. The other day I screwed up my panna by adding soda, it tasted like dish water. Imagine a panna glass, chilled and iced, with a twig of mint and some “boondi” and freshly chopped coriander floating on top. Add a tea spoon full of jal-jeera powder, guys it becomes a fabulous drink. Add a little crushed pepper and rock salt and sip it, you will attain “moksha”.

Aamras is stored in big dhakkan wala plastic buckets which come free with 10 kg washing powder. Achaars of all kinds, “khatta”, “meetha”, “pissay masala ka”, “sookha”, “khare masalewala” are all ready. My wife uses residue of the panna to make aap papar. If I start spreading it I think it will cover the whole house. Our pantry is full of “martabaans” of all shapes and sizes, ufff, too much of mango.

I love dal-chawal with pappad and mango achar. The tangier the better it is. My favourite is the sookha aam ka achar with lots of masala sticking to it. Once I have finished the dal then I take time to lick the plate clean with the achar ka goothli with lots of hair. Pure desi tariqa of cleaning your plate!

I tell my wife to put extra masala in pickles. Reason is that after the pieces of pickle have been polished off, the concentrated achari masala at the bottom of the martbaan is the best. I love to eat nice crisp deep fried matthi’s with this achar ka masala along with a hot cup of tea. The names achari baingan, achari karela and achari meat are already salivating my mouth. Hope my wife reads this.

These days one has to be very careful while going under the mango trees. I don’t take chances as I may become the second Newton with one ripe mango falling on my head. It is quite a scary noise at night as it first falls on to the roof and then rolls on it, till it falls down to the ground with a solid thud.

Oh Yes! Homemade mango ice cream and kulfi are doing the rounds too. Wife has thrown all my non-veg stored in the freezers to make way for the icy delights. I would suggest to you to try a green mango ice cream with chillies. It is out of the world. Decorate your glass with a slit green chilli and a slice of raw mango, you will love it. Try making a mango mary, the bloody thing will taste good.

Do you guys remember when that typical achar smell used to hit your nostrils and went up your brain while travelling in a train when someone opened their tiffin? I could beg for it from anyone. That unforgettable achari smell was just enchanting, triggering hunger in many.

My personal favourites though are the “langra” and “dusseri” which I miss in this part of the country. Very soon the rains are going to come and all this mango will be used to remember achhe din. All those who love this fruit are most welcome to visit us. Who will be the first one? I wonder!!!!!!!!!


© Noel Ellis