MANGO MANIA in Goa
Visitors to Goa who have a taste for tropical fruit in all its varieties will find their palates delightfully satisfied in this tropical paradise. Whether its fresh bananas, pineapples, jackfruit, oranges, or mangoes, Goa offers a visitors a special home-grown variety of almost any time of the year. In the months of March and April jack fruits appear, in april,May and June mangoes are popular, and from october through December oranges and apples are the most abundant fruits in the marketplace. Of all these fruits, however. the varieties of Goan mangoes are the most treasured among Goans, Indians, and international tourists alike.
If April and May are the months chosen for a visit to Goa, than the best varieties of mangoes as well as some hot,sunny weather can be experienced at this time.the best place to find an assortment of mangoes is, of course, at any of the market places in each village and city. while in the market, remember to ask which variety of mango is available, and be on the look out for names such as Alfonso, Musarad, and Mancurado which are by far the best available varieties owing to their sweetness and fleshy bodies untainted by stringy pulp. Choosing the right mango is just the first step to enjoying these tropical fruits. Once you’ve determined the variety, the best mangoes are a blend of light green and dark yellow and should not have any brown colour on the surface of their skins. Squeeze each gently to make sure the body of the mango is tender yet still firm. A very soft mango is most likely past its prime and will not have a good flavour.
Once the best mangoes from the best varieties have been selected, the next step is deciding how to go about consuming them. The first and most highly recommended way leaves one virtually mess-free: Using a sharp Knife, hold the mango on a hard surface and cut into three sections length-wise so that the pit [seed of the mango] remains in the middle portion. Using a spoon as if eating a melon slice, scoop out the mango pulp from the two boat-shaped side portions and enjoy. The middle is the toughest to master, but can still be savored by peeling back the skin and surpling the mango around the sides. the second way to consume mangoes and one best utilised by a seasoned mango-eater, should be done with a water faucet nearby. Simply peel back the skin of the mango from the pulp and eat it directly, though by this method one is apt to end up with a lot of mango on the hands and face! There are several other ways to eat fresh mangoes, fruit juice, spicy pickles, and manmade (jam) from their mangoes and have acquired a taste of eating of eating them raw and green with a pinch of salt.
The mango season goes in natural cycles following the monsoons and the subsequent seasonal changes. In January the mango flowers bloom and by early February the first spouting of small mangoes occurs. To enable this sprouting, the previous winter needs to have been mildly cold (relative to Western winters) and prolonged for a several months. If the winter season ends to abruptly or early, the flowers drop of the trees and do not develop into the mango sprouts.
By the end of March these buds have reached the half-way mark in their development and are usually a bright green and roughly 3-5 inches in length. At this point the seed of the mango has not hardened and the common varieties which would normally develop into pulpy mangoes are picked and sold in the market. At this point they are either made into spicy pickle preparations or sliced and preserved with vinegar to be eaten with chilly powder and salt. To make home-made pickles from these green mangoes, they are plucked from the trees and piled up in large baskets which are then covered by a wooden ‘pressure’ plank weighted down by a heavy stone. This is done for two days to extract the bitter sap from their stalks. The mangoes are then sliced into small pieces cut longitudinally and stuffed with salt for another 3-4 days. Meanwhile, chilli powder and spices are ground, mixed, and boiled in oil. This becomes the gravy paste of the pickle. In the final preparations, the pickles are marinated with this gravy and layered in large-mouthed jars for approximately 3 weeks. They are then opened, eaten, and last for about six months in an average family of 4-6 people.
The better varieties of mangoes are allowed to grow, such as the aforementioned Alfonso and Mancurado types, as well as the common types which fetch a low price on the market. In late April to May, the first of these varieties are brought to the market and sold at high prices around Rs.150-300 per dozen. As the season progresses, the prices decreases, and by late May to early June, a dozen mangoes of the best varieties sell for about Rs.60-100 per dozen.
With these ripe mangoes, a special mangadd (jam) is made in Goan homes. Ripe mangoes are peeled and the fleshy mango pulp is removed from the stone of the mango(seed). The pulp is collected and meshed in a large sando (brass vessel) with the aid of a large wooden spatula (dhai).
Meanwhile in another large sando, a sugar syrup is prepared by heating it over a fire and adding water. The pulp and sugar together are then boiled on the fire for a little more than one hour until the pulp reaches a particular thickness.
During the process, the preparation is constantly churned to avoid sticking to the vessel. It is then cooled for approximately 12 hours and then bottled in jars. It is eaten on fresh Goan bread for breakfast or at tea-time, and is a home-made speciality. This home made preparation cannot be found in stores, and thus the only way to sample it is in the home of a traditional Goan village family.
By Karin Larsen – Full Bright Research Student
Excerpt from “Glimpses of Goa”