Monday, May 23, 2011

Mangoes and more (mangoes)!

April is a relatively lean season for fruit and we only see the usual stuff that we turn up our noses at - the cheeku (sapota), bananas and papayas that we get year round. But come May and the mangoes begin trickling in. We know that these are early for the season, overpriced, not the most flavourful and above all - induce a soaring heat within - but we still succumb! Mangoes begin early in the south and fortunately so do the rains. For the rains have a lot to do with mango growing and eating. Early rains inevitably mean a loss of fruit - they fall off the trees and don't ripen properly. The summer heat is needed for growing the perfect mango. But not for eating it- we need the coolness that the monsoons bring to resist the tremendous heat of these fruit.

We know! We are to drink milk and eat lots of poppy seeds (non opium-ated of course!) but milk is something I have never liked. Poppy seeds are delicious, soaked and ground into a smooth thick paste eaten by itself (with hot steamed rice and raw onion) or added to various delicate summer vegetables. To counteract my lack of milk drinking, I eat light, cooling dals (mung, masur) and onions! To my great surprise, onions are considered to be cooling. I find it instictively hard to believe, but am trying them out this summer. And mint for the stomach (for mangoes are hard to digest) - in the form of chutney or raita (ground and beaten into curd) or a digestive drink with lots of jeera (cumin). The other option, of course, would be to eat less mangoes - but would anyone ever do that??

(My summer lunch - rice, mung dal, posto (poppy seed paste), karela (bitter gourd) with onions.)
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