Noel Ellis's Official Blog

I wield the pen to explore the vastness of the human mind

Category: MANGO







Necessity is the mother of invention and in India it is called “JUGAD”. We can modify anything, copy anything & duplicate anything. To make any contraption, the brain is Indian, the brawn is Indian, tools are Indian, finance is Indian, the consumer is Indian and it is best suited to our Indian needs. The “jugaadu” in me was waking up as I walked around my colony yesterday.

I was astonished to see countless mangoes strewn on the ground. With so many children around how come this fruit hasn’t been touched. Reasons could be like; this year was a bumper crop, so now we are fed up of eating mangoes, it has rained once and people avoid eating the fruit as it becomes infested with worms and insects. Another reason could be that fruits of a particular tree are either very sour or very feeka (Tasteless) but one thing that caught my nostrils was the smell of fermented fruit, that fruity-mangoey kind of liquory smell.

This reminded me of a conversation with a colleague who won panchayat elections a few days back. Country made Daru and non-veg is a make or break for any election here he claimed. More the daru flows the probability of winning is directly proportional to it. This has to be continuous for many days before voting. I said you must have spent a fortune. He nodded.

How do you procure and transport daru without getting caught? He said sir; for police there is a jugad. There is a distillation plant in my backyard and has been brewing nonstop since last few months. He refused to part with the recipe. I was very curious to know the mode of transportation. He took me to his car and opened the dickey and I found a huge inflated truck tube along with smaller tubes. He said all these are the left overs. I touched them and they went “thull-thull” like a water bed. I was thinking to myself that thank God we are going tubeless.

I went into flash back of the good old days in school. During the summer vacations we used to be vagabonds roaming around every nook and corner and it used to be fun collecting used test tubes from behind the chemistry lab. I saw a broken distillation set & picked it up. I brought that equipment home and buried it in the backyard fearing dad’s wrath.

I also got hold of old rum bottles and made out a concoction in which if I remember correctly I made a slurry of jaggery, lot of “peesi hui long & elaichi”, sugarcane juice and some home fruit juices. I filled about ten bottles and buried them close next to our guava tree in the backyard. All this was done in total secrecy, in the afternoons when mom and dad used to take their siesta. This was in class XI. As time flew by, we got busy with NDA preparations and later for XII boards, those graves were never dug. Mom kept wondering where her fridge bottles evaporated.

One fine day, dad decided to put manure in the fruit trees. He dug those circular pits around the trees when he accidentally dug out one bottle of that concoction I had prepared. It had turned jet black. I confessed to dad that all this “jiggery-poggery” I had done. I was preparing for getting a solid thrashing. He said let’s try distilling it. That reminded me that I had a distillation set buried too. How effective or defective it was time would tell. The rubber hoses had worn off and glass had broken at places but we did a jugad for all that.

Distillation started and the end product was an absolute clear tasteless liquid, flavoured with elaichi. I had tasted dad’s rum chori-chori but this damn thing had no taste at all. Patience was running out as it was taking hell of a long time and finally the first bottle was left with a gooey black residue. In the evening an uncle came to visit. Dad said let’s try Noel’s special brand. Uncle used to be an occasional drinker and used to make a weird face when the first sip of Hercules or Sea Pirate XXX used to go down his gullet. Dad also proudly told him ghar ki bani hai, two years old hai. Dad stuck to his usual rum. Uncle was all smiles and laughing. Just as he was about to leave he just could not get up from the sofa. All hell broke loose.

It hit him so badly that he had to leave his scooter at our place as we could not figure out how to open a Bajaj Chetak due that typical twist of the handle with which the lock opened. Dad was impressed that for the first time I did something practical in Chemistry. How hard my chemistry teachers tried, I could never balance an equation but I balanced the whole contraption of this distillation process which started from a make shift “chullah”, to pipes from the kitchen tap for cooling and finally collecting the “liquid gold” in another bottle. The “pahle tor di daru” as it was called in Punjab, was a success.

Should I do a jugad to make some mango liqueur for old time’s sake? I wonder!!!!!!!!


© Noel Ellis






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

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