As the temperature rises and the sun beats down mercilessly, one thing that comes to mind for many Indians: mangoes! These juicy, sweet, and vibrant fruits are the quintessential taste of summer in India, and they have a special place in the hearts of people all over the country.
Whether you’re biting into a ripe Alphonso or slicing up a juicy Chaunsa, there’s something about the sweetness of a mango that can transport you to a tropical paradise. And in India, where the fruit is abundant and consumed in all its glorious forms – from pickles to desserts – there’s no better time than summer to indulge in this delicious fruit.
So come along on a journey to explore the world of mangoes in India during the summer and discover why these humble fruits are so much more than just a seasonal treat.
The History of Indian Mangoes
The mango has a rich history, dating back 25 to 30 million years ago in Northeast India, Myanmar, and Bangladesh. Its earliest name was Amra-Phal, and it was mentioned in early Vedic literature as Rasala and Sahakara. In South India, it became known as Manga, from the Tamil maam-kay and the Malayalam Mangga, the name given to the fruit by the Europeans who arrived in India in the 15th century and were fascinated by it.
In ancient India, mango varieties were used to bestow titles on eminent people, and it was associated with the god of love, Manmatha. Alexander the Great took several types of mango when he returned to Greece. Mangoes became important in Buddhism and were exchanged as gifts among rulers. Buddhist monks took mangoes with them wherever they went, popularizing the fruit.
In India, the significance of mango goes beyond being a mere fruit. It is deeply ingrained in the culture and revered as a symbol of love, prosperity, and fertility. In addition, Hindu ceremonies often involve mango leaves due to their believed healing properties. Mangoes are also a traditional gift during the summer months, and in many Indian households, they are served with every meal.
Mango festivals are celebrated across numerous villages and cities in India, with the renowned Mango Mela in Delhi being one of the most significant events dedicated to the fruit. This festival showcases various mango varieties, including Alphonso and Banganapalli.
What makes Indian Mango variety the best?
A few factors make Indian mangoes stand out from other varieties. First and foremost, Indian mangoes are known for their unique flavors and aromas. Each variety has its distinct flavor, from sweet and juicy to tangy and sour. Additionally, Indian mangoes are often larger and more succulent than other varieties, making them a popular choice for eating fresh or using in recipes.
Another factor that sets Indian mangoes apart is their texture. Wide Indian varieties are fibreless, meaning they have a smooth, creamy texture perfect for eating or blending into smoothies. Finally, Indian mangoes are known for their bright, vibrant colours and beautiful shapes. Many varieties have a deep orange or yellow flesh and a unique form that makes them stand out from other fruits.
Top 5 Indian Mango Varieties
Now that we’ve explored why Indian mangoes are so special, let’s take a closer look at the top 5 varieties.
Alphonso Mango – The King of Mangoes
The Alphonso mango, also known as Hapus, is widely considered to be the best Indian mango variety. It’s grown primarily in western India and is prized for its sweet, creamy flesh and unique flavor. Alphonso mangoes are often described as having a floral aroma and a rich, buttery flavor, unlike any other mango. They’re also relatively small, with thin skin and a small pit, which makes them easy to eat.
Alphonso mangoes are a popular ingredient in Indian and international cuisine and are often used in desserts, smoothies, and cocktails. They’re also a good source of vitamins A and C and are low in calories, making them a healthy addition to any diet.
Kesar Mango – The Queen of Mangoes
The Kesar mango is another popular Indian variety that’s grown primarily in the state of Gujarat. It’s known for its sweet, juicy flesh and distinctive aroma, often compared to that of saffron. Kesar mangoes are slightly smaller than Alphonso mangoes, with bright orange flesh and thin skin.
Kesar mangoes are often used in Indian desserts like kulfi and ras malai, as well as in smoothies and cocktails. They’re also a good source of vitamins A and C and are low in calories.
Dasheri Mango – The Sweet and Juicy Mango
The Dasheri mango is a sweet and juicy variety that’s grown primarily in the northern part of India. It’s known for its large size and golden-yellow flesh, which is incredibly juicy and sweet. In addition, Dasheri mangoes are often described as having a honey-like flavor and are a popular ingredient in Indian desserts and smoothies.
Totapuri Mango – The Sour Mango
The Totapuri mango is a tangy and sour variety that’s grown primarily in the southern part of India. It’s known for its distinctive shape, long and narrow, and bright yellow flesh. Totapuri mangoes are often used in Indian pickles and chutneys, as well as in smoothies and cocktails.
While Totapuri mangoes are not as sweet as other varieties, they’re still a good source of vitamins A and C and are low in calories.
Banganapalli – The Royal Mangoes
Banganapalli, a town in Andhra Pradesh, India, is in the Nandyal district, 38 kilometers east of Nandyal. This town is renowned for cultivating Banganapalli mangoes, named after the city. These mangoes are considered royal quality and are widely sold across India, with their juices and pulps advertised due to their exceptional taste and sweetness.
Despite their ashen skin, Banganapalli mangoes are known for their delicious and significant size compared to other mango varieties. Moreover, they recently received their GI tag, signifying their unique geographical origin and qualities. With their rich flavor and pleasant taste, consuming drinks from these mangoes can be a delightful experience.
How To Choose the Best Mango Variety for Your Needs?
Choosing the best mango variety for your needs depends on a few factors. For example, if you’re looking for a sweet, creamy mango perfect for eating or using in desserts, Alphonso or Kesar mangoes are a good choice. On the other hand, if you prefer a tangier flavor or are looking for a mango to use in pickles or chutneys, Totapuri mangoes are a good option. And if you’re looking for a mango with exceptional taste best when used in smoothies then, Banganapalli mangoes are a great choice.
When selecting mangoes, look for a firm but not hard fruit with a fragrant aroma and a bright color. Avoid mangoes that are too soft or have bruises or blemishes on the skin.
When and Where Can You Buy the Best Mangoes in India?
In India, the ideal time to purchase mangoes is during the season, which spans from late March to early June. This period marks the fruit’s pinnacle ripeness and sweetness. During this time, mangoes can be easily found in markets and roadside stalls all over India.
With over 100 varieties of mangoes grown in India, it’s the perfect place to indulge in this delicious fruit. Although mangoes are widely available nationwide, certain areas are renowned for their specific varieties. For instance, Alphonso mangoes are famous in Mumbai, Banganapalli mangoes are favored in Hyderabad, Kesar mangoes are well-known in Gujarat, and Himampasand and Senthura mangoes are celebrated in Tamil Nadu.
Mango recipes to try with each variety
Here are some delicious mango recipes to try with each variety:
- Alphonso mango: Mango lassi, mango ice cream, mango cheesecake
- Kesar mango: Mango kulfi, mango milkshake, mango margarita
- Dasheri mango: Mango sorbet, mango smoothie, mango salsa
- Totapuri mango: Mango pickle, mango chutney, mango curry
- Banganapalli mango: mango milkshake, mango pudding, mango rice
Mango Storage Tips to Extend Their Shelf Life
To extend the shelf life of your mangoes, store them in a cool, dry place until they are ripe. Once ripe, mangoes can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. You can also freeze mangoes for later use by peeling and slicing the fruit and placing it in an airtight container in the freezer.
Health Benefits of Mangoes
Mangoes are not only delicious but they are also packed with essential nutrients that offer a wide range of health benefits. Here are some of the health benefits of mangoes:
- Rich in Nutrients: Mangoes are loaded with essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, and folate.
- Promote Digestive Health: Mangoes contain dietary fiber that aids digestion and helps prevent constipation.
- Boost Immune System: Mangoes are rich in antioxidants like beta-carotene and vitamin C, which help to boost the immune system and protect the body against diseases.
- May Help Prevent Cancer: Mangoes contain compounds like quercetin, isoquercitrin, astragalin, and gallic acid, which have been shown to have anticancer properties.
- Improve Eye Health: Mangoes are a good source of vitamin A, essential for maintaining healthy eyesight and preventing age-related macular degeneration.
- May Help Lower Cholesterol: Mangoes are rich in pectin, a type of fiber that helps to lower cholesterol levels in the blood.
- May Help Regulate Blood Sugar: Mangoes contain natural sugars that are slowly released into the bloodstream, which may help regulate blood sugar levels.
Incorporating mangoes into your diet can have many health benefits, making them a nutritious and delicious fruit. However, it is essential to consume them in moderation as they are also high in sugar.
As the scorching heat of summer hits India, one can’t help but crave a juicy, refreshing fruit that not only cools down the body but also tantalizes the taste buds. And what better fruit to turn to than the king of fruits itself – the mango!
Mangoes are not just fruit but a quintessential part of the Indian summer experience. From the sweet and succulent Alphonso to the exceptionally delicious Banganapalli, mangoes come in various shapes, sizes, and flavors. And as the saying goes, “You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy mangoes, and that’s the same thing.”
But perhaps the best part about mangoes is how they unite people. Mangoes have always symbolized togetherness and celebration, from family gatherings to neighborhood picnics. And even amid a pandemic, the joy of sharing a box of mangoes with loved ones remains unchanged.
So, as the summer season is upon us, let us all indulge in the sweetness of mangoes and savor the moments of happiness they bring. After all, as the famous poet Rabindranath Tagore once said, “Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf.” And what better way to do that than with a ripe and juicy mango in hand?
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