Mangoes and Me! Chef's Recipe for Melon & Mango Gazpacho
Over the course of the last several years, I have been fortunate to be able to write on various topics in various publications, have been lucky to be able to discuss various culinary subjects on different public fora and gain a lot of insights and knowledge doing that. I get asked many times if there is any single food product that I feel most attached to, and one that brings a smile to my face every time I think about it. Among the thousands of products, fruits, vegetables, meats, sauces and condiments, the one product that brings a smile to my face every single time is the King of fruits- the luscious Mango.
Whereas it is easy for me to be biased towards the mango since I myself come from a Mango farmer’s family and have spent almost all my summer vacations growing up among vast Mango plantations, where the mango is way, way more than just a cash crop. It is something that has immense significance in the lives of the entire community and the annual crop of mango pretty much dictates if there will be a wedding in the family that year or will there be a new piece of furniture or jewellery bought into the household. As children although, we had our heyday. The morning usually started with us kids running to our nearest Mango ‘bageecha’ and chiding with the strict caretaker to let us climb the trees and pluck mangoes on our own, kind of the rite of passage for us to start behaving responsibly, collecting a meal item for the home. Once allowed, us noisy bunch, specially the boys will hanker on to the tall mango trees, perch branches and try and pluck the choicest, tree-ripened mangoes and drop them to the earth below where the other bunch would pick those up and put them in a bucket filled with cold water. After the enjoyable ordeal, we would proudly bring the booty home and deposit in the kitchen where we would then be allowed one mango each, of our choice, while the rest would be used for the other meal periods.
The History of Mangoes:
The Mango is among the few fruits that are known to have originated in India and is native to the gangetic plains of North India. The Sanskrit word for mango, ‘Aamra’ is mentioned in the Shatapatha Brahmana, the definitive guide to Vedic rituals, history and mythology and dates back to 1000 BC. It is said that Alexander the Great was a big admirer of Indian mangoes as were Megasthenes and Huen Tsang. Babur called the mango ‘O fairest fruit of Hindustan’ and his grandson Akbar is known to have planted 100,000 mango trees in what is now the district of Darbhanga in Bihar. It is no wonder therefore that India produces more than half of the world’s mangoes and in more than a thousand varieties. Mango wood is used in our hearths, mango leaves in our rituals, mango tannin is used in our footwear and the mango fruit, well, and it is used in almost all cuisines, all over the country, in all its forms and is also used as the Indian’s boastful affirmation into the world of fruits.
Mango in cuisine:
There are few other fruits that have the versatility of the Mango, and towards that end, Mango is used in various culinary applications throughout the world. In India, the mangoes are used in almost all regional cuisines in various ways such as pickles, chutneys, pulped, in beverages, in rice dishes, in curries, sweets, desserts and even dried and powdered. In a nutshell, the mango can stand on its own in the world of culinary ingredients and do it with pride. Internationally, mangoes are used in salads, soups, main courses, desserts, specially ice creams and beverages. Nutritionally, mangoes are a real powerhouse. One cup of cut mangoes has an entire days supply of vitamin C. Mangoes are also very rich in anti oxidants such as astragalin, Gallic acid and quercetin. Mangoes also have high levels of fibre, pectin and vitamin A along with low glycemic index as well as abundant vitamins and carotenoids. Overall, Mango – the King of fruits is also the king of nutrients.
Although there are literally thousands of ways in which mangoes can be consumed, raw, cooked and preserved, my personal favourite is a version of the chilled soup that I had the pleasure to have in a small restaurant in Barcelona, Spain a few years back. Although I was surprised by the choice of the flavour selection by the Chef, who was of Indian origin, I was really enamoured by the subtle but pronounced flavours of the soup. In the peak of Barcelona summer, the soup was comforting, refreshing as well as filling and incredibly tasty with multiple layers of flavours. I later tried to recreate the same soup at home and am submitting the recipe.
CHILLED MELON AND MANGO GAZPACHO
Fresh ripe mangoes: 200GMS
Fresh Honeydew Melon: 200gms
Fresh Orange Juice: 100ml
Extra virgin olive oil: 50ml
Fresh cucumber: 100gms (peeled, deseeded and chopped))
Red capsicum: 50gms (deseeded and chopped)
Fresh Onion: 25 Gms (peeled and chopped)
Garlic Fresh: 10gms (minced)
Jalapeno pepper: 10gms (deseeded and chopped)
Lime juice: 25ml
Fresh Parsley: 25gms (chopped)
Salt and pepper to taste
- Place mangoes, Melon, orange juice and olive oil in food processor and blend until pureed
- Transfer the puree to a mixing bowl.
- Add cucumber, red pepper, onion, garlic, jalapeno, lime juice and parsley. Mix well, Season with salt and pepper. Chill well for several hours for flavours to develop.
- Serve chilled with a dollop of sour cream.