Mangoes and summer go together. Remember those days when as kids we enjoyed picking up tiny mangoes that fall after a heavy summer shower or a hailstorm. How we relished the tangy sourness of the tender fruit. Or, the thrill of plucking mangoes by climbing a tree. I’m sure each of us has a story to tell when it comes to mangoes and our adventures under the mango tree or time spent in mango orchards. Summer vacation was virtually a mango treat! Mangoes after breakfast or occasional Aamras with poori or dosa, mangoes as dessert and of course a piece or two soon after dinner. My mother generally insists on drinking a cup of milk after eating mangoes, perhaps to reduce the acidity.
In my campus house we had two mango trees. But the yield was not so good, by the time the trees really matured we moved out of campus. Several houses, especially the Director’s bungalow had several Banginapally mangoes. We never missed our share of naturally ripened mangoes from them and also from some other profs gardens.
Aam ka panha is a coolant made from raw mangoes. Mummy used to always make it ready when we came back home after writing our final exams. In fact, a paste made with raw mango pulp and cumin powder was applied on the soles and palms to reduce the effects of sunstroke. Pickling mangoes is an annual ritual that has its own charm. There was a sense of anticipation about the whole process, cleaning and drying them, grinding the spices, adding the right brand of oil. And there you are! The taste of fresh Avakai or the North Indian style pickle in mustard oil and occasionally the sweet pickle, or even the scraped chutney type of pickle… the list goes on. New pickles would be exchanged between neighbors and friends. I simply enjoyed the Maagai from my Telugu friends which we never made at home.
Today eating mangoes are not free of toxins. This lovely golden colored fruit with heavenly taste is being ruthlessly exploited for commercial reasons. With all the best varieties being exported to other countries, we are left with not-so-good ones. This link tells you more about how dangerous these toxins can be.
Alternatively check out for naturally ripened fruits. These are mostly sold directly by farmers. We also have several retail outlets claiming to sell such fruits. However, I was quite disappointed whenever I spent exorbitantly on varieties like Alphoso. Dasheri and Langda are ok towards the end of the season in Hyderabad. My all time favorites are Cheruku Rasalu, Banginapally (Benishan) and Dasheri.