I just got back from my travels to India. I was fortunate to be there during the mango season. I had the privilege of eating green mangoes straight from my mother’s organic garden. My mother had planted two three-year-old mango saplings when I was about the same age.
Now the mango trees are big and spreading, full of luscious bright fruits. Its changing foliage, mass of budding feathery blossoms and hanging fruits present a spectacular view. The cool trees are an abode for tropical parrots and parakeets. The full-grown mature tree produces 400-600 mangoes at a time. Green mangoes start to appear in early April on Indian subcontinent. Some branches were so heavy with fruits that they almost touched the ground. Every time I went shopping I would cut a green mango into slices and take it in ziplock bag, my valuable vitamin C in the sweltering tropical heat.
There was something gratifying about cutting down a stalk of green mango chopping the fruit into small pieces. During leisure I would dip the pieces in a mound of salt and enjoy.
In India the green mangoes are not only used in pickles but utilized like a vegetable as well. It is really white inside, appearing more like daikon, jicama, or green papaya than mango. Its juicy tart flavor is a natural bonus to an imaginative cook. India is the abode to hundreds of varieties of magnificent marvelous mangoes. There is a surprising selection of just green pickling mangoes that vary in tartness, shape and size—literally from, 1-inch to 12-inches in length.
The mango tree is very much a part of Indian customs. It has an honored place in cultural and religious observances. Its slender pointed leaves, the branches and blossoms are used for various purposes. The leaves are skillfully arranged to decorate the thresholds and doors during feasts and in marriage banquets. The farmers have a special place for the mango tree because it signifies richness. A special spot is reserved in the field for the mango tree. It provides shade and a place to relax. Some dip the flat mango pit in ghee (clarified butter) and honey before planting the seed so it grows into a healthier tree. The young growing plant is anointed with milk by doing so it is believed there will be a harvest of sweet fruits.
The green mango is not only nutritious but is cultivated since ancient times for various medicinal properties found in the leaves and bark of the tree. The raw mango is a vital flavoring part and cooked like a vegetable in curries, stews and salads. It is used in making chutneys, pickles, preserves and sherbets. Sliced and sun-dried, it is ground into fine powder to make the mango powder. Both the dried slices and powder are used as souring agent in curries, meat dishes, soups, and in preparation of tangy spice blends.
I love dipping sliced green mango in flavorful salts and eating every now and then. It brings back memories when my sister and I would climb the tree as little girls.
Causes Laxmi Hiremath Supports
CA NOW; Kids Wish Network; SPCA; Community Assitance for Retarded and Handicapped Inc.; Sierra Club; Fishes and Loaves;