The Mango Tree
Once upon a time there was a little girl 👧 who lived in a small town in India. There were 11 others like her (siblings and cousins), all so close-knit they didn’t need any friends. They often played together in their grand-father’s garden 🏡 under the big mango tree 🌳, that provided both shade and the golden, juicy fruit in abundance. Come summer, every time they heard a thud in the garden, the children ran out in anticipation of a ripe mango landing on the grass-bed. Sadly, calling “DIBS” wasn’t a thing then, instead every piece of fruit that fell had to be taken back to grandpa, who they lovingly called ‘PUPAA’. Pupaa would then slice the oval-shaped fruit into as many pieces as the number of kids around. The children would then sink their teeth into the juicy wedges, religiously licking their fingers after to ensure nothing goes to waste. The one child with the seed would be the last one still standing, trying to scrape the flesh out of every little dent and fibre on the slightly plump seed. I was often that last child and till date suck on mango seeds the same way.
I still remember the day when they had to chop down the tree to build a bigger house - I cried. My father continued the tradition and never forgot to bring back a bag full of mangoes on his way back from work.
We all live on different continents now, but our love for each other and for mangoes still stays the same. In fact, now when we get together it's not just us but all our wonderful spouses (who are a tad bit jealous of how close we are 😉) and our children. Oh, the noise level when we get together - my children often compare it to the cocaphony of loud mynah birds you hear late in the evenings in Singapore, "Mom, is your family having a party..." 😂
Do you have a favorite food memory - share with me in comments.
There a million other stories I could tell you about mangoes 🥭 and my undying love for the king of fruit. But, let me start by telling you that these golden beauties are in season, and in particular Alphonsos.
Now, “Alphonso” isn’t like your regular sweet Thai honey mango, instead it flaunts a bright orange interior much like the sun at twilight, and its deliciously sweet and sour flesh. It’s like no mango you’ve ever tasted before.
Number 2 on my list is “Badam”; much larger than an Alphonso, these juicy bombs have a tender, yellow interior - sooooo good you would want to scrape every bit of flesh off of it, and lick any tricking juice off your arm. SLURRRRP!
And as the summer sets in, you will find a few other varieties of the golden fruit, in different shapes, color and sizes, in and around Tekka (there are about 1500 different ones in India). So, if you happen to be on Buffalo road in Little India one of these days, pop into one of the local grocery stores and grab yourself a box of a dozen Alphonsos. You can thank me later😉.
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Payal Thakurani is a cooking instructor, consulting chef, and author of the popular Southeast Asian cookbook “Curries for the Soul”. Originally based in Shanghai China, chef Payal has been in the food industry since 2012, working in training and brand development in central kitchens. She was also the proud owner of a cooking school and several food brands in Shanghai. She now lives in Singapore and heads Commune Kitchen in Downtown Gallery, where she hosts affordable, hands-on cooking classes for all ages.