Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Fruity King

Delectable, mouth watering ripe golden mangos are all that occupy my mind these days and more so on a bright sunny summer day. I miss a lot of things about India, but every summer despite the oppressive heat, the scarcity of water and the humidity of India my thoughts invariably turn to the king of all fruits – the mango. Oh how I miss the sweet, syrup’s mango pulps that could be consumed with the outer skin or in small cubes, with the skin shaved off.

There were many varieties of mangos that one was able to purchase in Bombay, the Payaris, Lambis, Badami, Langda and the best of them all the ‘Haapus’ or Alfanso. Many varieties of delicacies were made with the mangos during summer. Of course the sliced fruit after lunch/dinner was the most popular, followed closely by ‘aam-ras’ (Mango pulp) which would be mixed with cardamom seeds and sweetened with extra sugar and eaten with hot ‘puris’ or chapattis. The ‘aam-ras’ is best served chilled, right out of the fridge. One couldn’t keep track of the chapattis or puris that would get devoured with this scrumptious ‘aam-ras’. Various sweet, sour and spicy pickles would get concocted by mother during the summer months, to be relished by the entire family for the rest of the year.

The affluent gujarathi, marwari businessmen living in our apartment complex would order dozens of alphanso mangos which would get delivered in wooden crates filled with dried golden straw, which would help the mangos ripen quickly. For the not quite so affluent, working class families, like ourselves, for most of the summer we’d have to gorge on the lesser varieties of the fruits of the gods. Only during the end of summer and the onset of the monsoons would drive the prices of the alpahnso down, which made it affordable for the proletariat. And what a wait it was. The aroma of the ripened hapus played havoc to our olfactory senses as I can vividly remember the smiles on our yellow, mango pulp covered faces during the hot, muggy, lazy days of summer, chomping away on a mango kernel.

We do get the Mexican or Columbian variant of this royal fruit in the US, but these fruits just pale in comparison to the divine ‘haapus’ from my neck of the woods.


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