People in this part of the world (read, the UK) really look forward to the summer months…this is the time to discard off the layers, eat the most delicious, sweet strawberries, gorge on the sometimes sweet and often tart raspberries and of course, enjoy the long walks by the rivers and finally its the season for unlimited picnics and barbecues. Having grown up in India, I had my own special reasons for looking forward to the sweltering months of unstoppable heat…the long summer holidays with all extended family and above all, the non-stop supply of amazingly sweet, ripe, delicious mangoes!
There was unlimited availability of mangoes (soaked in a bucket of water overnight to get the heat out) at my grandparents’ home, where all the cousins would get together during summer holidays. I remember my morning starting with ‘aam-ras‘ or what people generally referred to as the ‘mango shake‘. Today, of course, everything is a smoothie 🙂 What’s in a name, anyway…call what you wish, but it’s the concoction of milk and fresh mango pulp. that’s important! These days, some people replace the milk with yoghurt (it’s apparently better for you and all that..)
If that dose wasn’t enough, the lunch menu included ‘kacche aam ki daal‘ (lentils cooked with raw mango) and there was always a discussion on the table on who would get the ‘guthli’ (the big stone in the centre of the mango)!
If you were leaving home for any reason, you were offered ‘aam panna’ (a refreshing drink made by cooking the pulp and juice of raw mango with spices)…Oh! goodness, life couldn’t have got better… and no day was ever complete without having either ice-cream, ‘kulfi‘ or simply just sliced mango after dinner…At this point, I must add that no meal in the summer months is ever complete without a generous dollop of ‘mint, coriander and raw mango chutney’ and the ‘aam ka achar’ (raw mangoes pickled in spices) is present in all homes, well nearly! Preparation and the making of this pickle is another story and I will leave that for another post.
I could happily have this routine again and again and again…No one can get tired of mangoes…I mean, no one…Infact, is there anyone out there, who has grown up in North India and not had ‘aam papad‘ with ‘Imli’ (tamarind) outside school? Anyone who grew up in South India and wasn’t lucky enough to have sliced raw mangoes coated with chilli? Well, if you haven’t, then you clearly haven’t lived….
Before I get carried away, I must offer some of my favourite recipes to you, some I learnt and some that I grew up with…Well, to enjoy, all you need is to walk into your kitchen, get your apron on and get creating…Alternatively, find a kind soul, who will cook these for you…Happy reading…
The Refreshing Drinks
The pickles and chutneys
The other deliciousness
Most of these are the traditional recipes that I grew up with. There are of course a lot of modern versions and different recipes created for current times…I will leave that for another season, in another post.
Enjoy the mango season while it lasts…