I’m going to post about something a little different today. We’ve been in India for the last 10 days. D’s sister was getting married in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, so we went on our first trip to India to share in the big day. It was an amazing trip and I learned a lot, including that I love southern Indian food. And as a vegetarian, India is a great place to visit, the variety of food is better than anywhere in the world.
The wedding date was chosen as an auspicious day for the married couple. Not to make light of the importance of that, but it was also auspicious time for us, because late June is perfect mango season! There are about 20 different types of mangoes regularly seen in India. Can you imagine?
Mangoes are all over the place in Chennai, on every street is a vendor. My new BIL was kind enough to buy us a lot of mangoes and tell us the names. We had 4 kinds of mangoes, and now I want to go on a mango expedition, tasting all the ripe mangoes around the world. How great does that sound? I had a taste (literally and figuratively) of what’s possible, and I want more.
So here are the mangoes we ate (and apologies for the dark photos, most of this test was done in our hotel room):
“Neelam” name means “blue” or “long,” which was confusing to me because it doesn’t appear to be either. It’s a smallish mango, about the size of a lemon. These are at peak in late June, so I feel very lucky. They are crazy fun to eat, too. You roll the mango around in your hands, until it feels loose and squishy on the inside. Then bite off the top, where the stem attaches, and suck out the insides. Fun and delicious!
The fruit inside is creamy, like the most amazing mango lassi or ice cream you’ve ever had. There’s a twinge of bitterness, because you have your mouth on the skin the entire time. This was my overall favorite, because of the novelty of the eating method, and the creamy sweet flavor so different from what I expected.
The first part of the name is “gold” in Telugu. This is the favorite of my BIL, and he’s not alone, many Indians are loyal to this mango. This one is almond shaped, with golden skin. The flesh is sweet, floral, and very juicy.
The juice was literally dripping and pooling. It tastes like a mango mixed with a papaya, very tropical and heady. Also, yay, low in fibers (except when you’re scraping the remaining fruit off the pit with your teeth… ahem.)
This mango is also a favorite in South India. It is large, round, and the skin is green even when ripe. This was like mango made of honey – really sweet. It’s slightly less juicy than the Banganapalli, and firmer and a little fibrous. It’s a little planty (astringent) but the main thing I remember is just how very sweet it was, without being cloying. A lot of fruit, too!
I have read a lot of glowing praise of the Alphonso. They ripen from April to late May, so ours was past it season. It was still really nice, but I would place it last in the taste-test. Its flavor was closer to what I’m familiar with. But it’s saying a lot that the bottom of our taste-test was as good as the best mango I’ve had in the states.
So there you have it. Conclusion? I wish we had eaten more! If you find yourself in India or South Asia, eat all the mangoes you can.
Here’s some more fun reading about mango varieties: