Few days back I was enjoying the beautiful view of Arabian Sea from Marine Drive in Mumbai. My daughter bought raw mango slices from a street vendor. Those mouth-watering slices with salt and chili sprinkled on them, transposed me to my childhood. This delicious fruit always holds a very important place in my life. Many childhood memories are associated with this fruit.
I vividly remember, there were about forty mango trees in our backyard. We children spent our time playing under these trees. In February, the flowers would bloom on these trees, indicating the advent of spring. Sweet fragrance of these flowers used to attract many birds and insects. I loved to listen to melodious voice of koyal (cuckoo) bird, and we children tried to copy her call. In the month of April these trees were laden with small green mangoes. We would try to pluck the ones within our reach. These raw fruits used to be sour. We would wink on taking a bite, but we enjoyed eating them nevertheless. We had learnt a technique to blow into the pit of this fruit enclosed between our palms, and produce sharp sound like a trumpet. We often tried to grow a mango plant from its seed but were not very successful.
Mango tree existed even before 4000 BC, and is believed to have originated in Assam, the Northeastern state of India. It symbolizes eternal love, and is considered as a fruit of gods in this country. I remember, on any auspicious occasion, we children were asked to collect mango leaves from the garden, wash them, and help in tying them to a string and hang them on the front door. I was told that it removes negativity, and promotes well-being. It is without doubt the most loved fruit of Indians. All the parts of mango tree, even wood, and bark are used in some way or the other. The fascination for this fruit is so great, that mango motifs and Paisley are very common in Indian art. Beautifully designed mango shaped henna motifs adorn the hands of Indian ladies. I have these motifs embroidered on my saris, shawls, and even on carpet.
Embroidery featuring mango motifs
In summers, the fruits would ripen They were plucked carefully, and segregated according to the variety. We loved desi mango, the indigenous variety, having soft pulp. We were asked to gather in courtyard, near the basket full of ripe mangoes in our undies, since eating this fruit can be very messy. We would press the fruit from all sides to soften the pulp further, and then suck the pulp, juice dripping down our arms. It was heavenly experience. We would compete with each other to see who could eat faster and more number of these fruits. After mango eating session, we were given good bath, and then only allowed to enter the house.
How can I forget mentioning mouth-watering aam papad – sweet and tangy sun-dried leather of mango pulp. We would gather around drying papad like ants would, and our mothers had difficult time shooing us away.
Those days cannot come back again. But the love for this heavenly fruit is still very strong. I recently read somewhere that India produces nearly half of the mango in world. Indians are so much in love with it, that they consume most of it, and export only small portion to other countries.
Mango trees can live for hundreds of years, and there are trees that are more than 300 years old, and still bearing fruits.
- This fruit is rich in vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and vitamin E. It thus has antioxidant properties, is good for vision, and helps body in developing good resistance power, good for heart, and prevents cancer.
- It is rich in pro-biotic dietary fiber and helps in digestion.
- Per 100 grams of the fruit contains 60 K Cal of energy. It is free from fat and cholesterol.
- Iron, calcium, and many other minerals are present in sufficient amount in this fruit.
How to select a mango?
Commercial fruits are plucked before they are fully ripe, so that they are not damaged during transportation.
- Raw fruits are generally dark green in color. They mostly turn to yellow, orange or red on ripening. But don’t judge a mango just by its color.
- Some varieties of the fruit remain green even when they are ripe. Gently press the fruit. If it yields a little, then it is ripe.
- Ripe mangoes have fruity aroma near stem.
- If the fruit is firm, wrap it in a paper and keep it at room temperature. It will ripe in few days.
- If there are black spots on the skin of a mango fruit, it means it is past its prime, and do not select such a fruit.
Ripe fruits in the market
How to eat a mango
We can eat mangoes raw as well as ripe. Many people love to sprinkle some spices and salt and eat raw mangoes. Mango pickle, sweet pickle called chhunda, chutney, salad, salsa, and a tasty summer drink called aam panna is made with raw mangoes.
Cut slices or cubes of ripe fruit, and enjoy their lovely taste. We can make many dishes such as mango ice-cream, lassi, cake, mousse, and milk shakes using the ripe fruit. My favorite is mango vanilla panna cotta, with very delicate taste of vanilla and mango.
Those allergic to latex may have reaction with mango. Eating too much potassium is also harmful. As far as I understand, eating too much of anything is not good for health. My motto is to eat everything in moderation.
If you want to read about goodness of kiwi fruit, click on the link – Kiwi fruit: Health benefits.
Do you have any interesting memory related to mango, or any other fruit? Will you like to share it here?