Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mango Harvest

A short photo-essay.

There is one lone mango tree in my parents' backyard but it is an old, ample and generous soul that manages to keep us well-supplied with prized alphonso (hapoos) mangoes throughout the mango season. The bright summer sun filtering through the dense mango leaves is a beautiful sight.
Mango2

It is almost the end of the mango season but two days ago, there was still a lot of fruit hanging off the tree, ready to be picked.
Mango1

Picking mangoes off such a huge tree without injuring the mangoes (by dropping and bruising them) and without damaging the tree is an art in itself. My Dad fashioned this low-tech device that works beautifully. Atop a bamboo stick, there are two blades and below them is a sack. The blades lop off the mango right at the stem and it falls into the basket.
Mango6

Mangoes are picked when they are still green and they ripen indoors after picking. If you leave them on the tree to ripen, the birds and monkeys will beat you to it! Trust me, even after picking the mangoes, there are plenty left over in the upper branches for these critters.
Mango5

After picking comes the sorting. The smaller kairis (raw or semi-ripe mangoes) are set aside for making panha (a beverage) or chhunda (a sweet-spicy-tangy preserve of shredded mangoes). Then the chosen fruits are nestled gently in straw beds where they ripen over several days. I share the room where the mangoes are kept and enjoy the heady fragrance of ripening mangoes as I drift off to sleep and as I wake up. The straw is a wonderful incubator for the ripening mangoes. You pick one up from its straw bed and it is incredibly warm to the touch. You can feel the metabolism burning and transforming the hard astringent raw mango into the sweet silk of the ripe mango.
Mango4

It is a daily chore to keep an eye on the mangoes and inspect each one carefully. Those with rotting spots are removed immediately. Ones that are fully ripe (they get incredibly fragrant, a little wrinkly, they yield to pressure and turn that gorgeous shade of yellow-orange) are washed and refrigerated.

This one tree provides enough fruit that my parents can share it with everyone and anyone they know. Even after sharing, eating and pickling the mangoes in every imaginable way, in some years, there is heaps of fruit left over. One year my mother contacted a canning company to can the pulp. They politely explained that they undertake large canning contracts with the aamrais (mango orchards) and don't deal with folks who have one tree in their backyard. My mother does not take no for an answer and she pleaded with them until they gave in and processed 30 or so cans for her. A couple of these found their way to me in the US and thrilled me to pieces. This year, we may try freezing or bottling the pulp if we have too many mangoes left over (unlikely, at the rate V and I eat them).

I was watching a Marathi cooking show and the fancy-schmancy chef who was hosting the show confidently said that he would demonstrate some innovative recipes with mangoes, seeing as how many people are drowning in ripe mangoes at this point. He made two recipes that I can only describe as elaborate and outlandish. One was a mango canneloni where mango chunks were sauteed with spring onions, stuffed into painstakingly made fresh pasta sheets and topped with a garlic cream sauce. The other was a mixture of crushed fried banana chips and mango stuffed into peppers. The peppers were dipped in batter and fried. I have two questions for this chef: "Really??" and "Why?".

As far as I am concerned, there is only one sublime recipe you need when you have ripe mangoes on hand. Three Four easy steps-
1. Cut the mango.
2. Eat.
3. Repeat.
4. Thank your lucky stars.
Mango7

65 comments:

  1. Nupur, what a mango feast! I never get to India during mango season. Great pictures!I remember mangoes in straw when I was a kid. Nothing like tearing the skin off with your teeth and the juice running down your arms :)

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  2. Wow thats wonderful mangoes and great pictures.. please send us one basket naa.. very much tempting.

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  3. Nupur! You lucky girl..this is such a wonderful post. And I would also say "why" to that chef! How complicated his recipes sound.

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  4. Oh i am so homesick now!! :( mangoes are so expensive in singapore that its a treat for us and we buy one fruit at a time. lovely pictures and made me feel all nice and warm and nostalgic!

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  5. Well written article..It sure took me back to my childhood. I remember my grandpa preparing a similar bed of straw to ripen the mangoes.

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  6. lovely... we had two mang trees in our garden and I can relate to what you're saying :-)

    I do make some ripe mango dishes... in fact ate one last night. But the best way is to eat them plain :)

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  7. Thanks for writing such a beautiful descriptive post on hapoos. Loved to see all the photos too

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  8. awesome pics... i love you dad's mango harvesting contraption!! mangoes do make the summer special... despite all the wailing about the heat, i would not trade the mango season for anything!!

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  9. they're gorgeous - you must be in heaven! I remember when they first started importing them here and you were bemoaning the price. Eat up my dear!

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  10. Nupur - have you got any idea how difficult (close to impossible!) it is to get decently-flavoured mangoes here in Estonia??? Obviously not - otherwise you wouldn't post those tempting mango photos :)
    I love the basket of your dad's design!!

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  11. Nupur, Mouthwatering, growing up all summer season it was our duty to check for ripe mangoes early in the morning. the smell of the room covered with hay and ripe mangoes makes me so nostalogic.

    Pics look mouthwatering

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  12. that recipe is a true winner for sure! i am so envious - we get them mostly from chile or brazil and they are not half as scrumptious as our indian or pakistani mangoes. one reason the move to doha is making me happy! LOL!

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  13. Nice post dear..pics are soo tempting..i loved the raw mango pic :)

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  14. You know Nupur, my eyes are filled with treas seeing those dleicous mmangoes, i do miss them especially the one with the hay basket , reminds me of home during the mango season.

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  15. I adore the contraption your father deviced. Handy and incredibly useful. And those ripening mangoes hmmmm bliss. I am a little sad that we will make it there when the mango season is completely over but there are usually a few trees with fruits left is what consoles me.

    Outlandish is the right word. I would not think anybody in their right minds trying out those recipes. I love your recipe ;) the best.

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  16. What a lovely ode to the mango! I couldn't agree with you more on how to eat them. Mango Canneloni with garlic sauce??? Outlandish is the word!

    And that's one nifty contraption your dad has designed.

    Mamatha

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  17. Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh WOW! An alphonso mango tree in your own yard. I say again - OH WOW! :) Lucky you! And yes, mangoes dont need recipes like the ones you've described (ugh)... but YOUR recipe is spot on! :)

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  18. hapoos is one fruit you cant have enough i guess ;) I remember the device my mama used to use to pluck mangoes off the tree. My mom was telling me she lost the whole batch to the monkeys this year only got a dozen or so mangoes

    Enjoy your stay in Kop! dont forget mastani, rajabhau bhel and misal either phadtare or at shahu maidan.

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  19. I am a lurker, but this post made me totally de-lurk :) you are an ummm.. an evil woman :P those pictures had me drooling all over my keyboard. And they brought back such, such nostalgic memories of my grandparent's backyard and the hapoos and pairi trees in it. Nothing beats hapoos and I haven't eaten a fresh one in a decade!!

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  20. o man!!! Haapus ambas!!! You are lucky to have a tree....They look so juicy and yummy...I buy them for $4 a piece in bay area:D:D...Those 'exotic' recipes seem a bit much....There are so many better recipes...

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  21. What a lovely article! I love the mango picking contraption..(I am trying to not even think about the mangoes..lol)

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  22. (indirectly) Frying mangoes? Mangoes with garlic and onions?
    Isn't all this illegal?

    Make sure you don't drink water after eating the ambe.

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  23. Thank you so much for posting this. I'm sure I'll never get to eat a mango in such a beautiful setting, but you really transported me.

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  24. OMG you are killing me !!!! Waaah I want an alphonso mango right now :((( Thanks for sharing Nupur, enjoy!

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  25. I sure miss the abundance of mangoes and I agree the best mango recipe is to slice-n-eat :)

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  26. Dear Nupur, While I have read your blog and cooked your recipes over the last few years I've never thanked you. But this last post, that has taken me, and so many others down memory lane had to be acknowledged! Thanks for sharing your 'mango season' and luscious photograph with those of us too far away to enjoy it at home. My fave memory of mangoes was mango-milk, my mum cut up chunks of mangos in a glass of ice cold milk for breakfast in the morning. Yum!

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  27. Ah! Those look heavenly...Mangoes are the best part about Indian summers!

    Have fun in Kolhapur! Looking forward to more such titbits from India! :)

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  28. I am drooling like my 18 month old :)) lucky you NUPUR

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  29. What a gorgeous post Nupur!! Thank you!!! Since I can't be in India at this time, reading your post was the next best thing, coz I could just imagine it all and even smell the fragrance of the mangoes as you described it. Mmmmmm.............sigh!

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  30. Nupur , i have been dreaming about hapoos since the start of March,. and now reading and seeing your blog, i am sooooo Homesick ki dont ask. because we dont get to eat fresh hapus in india, my ma inlaw always concentrates the pulp to kind of CHAV (filler). and sends it to us. we then add it to cold milk to either make a yummy milkshake, or with cream to make the yummiest amras! . But i still miss eating the pulpy flesh right out of the skin.. oooooooooooooooooo!

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  31. Nupur,

    What a lovely photo-essay! Thanks, you have made my day with those photos (especially the one with sunlight streaming through the leaves).

    You have made me very nostalgic indeed. We had 2 mango trees back home and April/May mango season was a joy!

    Here in London, we do get Rajapuri ambe and we had some panha the other week!

    Enjoy your India vacation and give us more lovely posts like these

    Manju Mone

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  32. What an amazing post. So many levels of interest coming through. I am loving this peek into your family's life in India, and absolutely adore your mango recipe! (And can you believe that I was well over 50 before I ever tasted mango. So sad!)

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  33. Really - why ever would you torture a mango so! Slice and eat, or squeeze and suck!

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  34. Wow what a post Nupur. Miss those mangoes

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  35. Wow that is really great mouth watering expression. Thanks Nupur!
    I too had same feeling for all those shows showing fancy mango recipes-"Why".

    -Swarupa

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  36. Wow! What a beautiful blog! made me nostalgic. The last picture with the cut hapoos amba is awesome...the taste of it came rushing to me!
    Thanks for sharing! Hope you have a wonderful time in India. Btw, in which city do your parents live? Are they from Konkan?

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  37. I love mangoes, and the sad thing is I never got to eat any when I was in India. However, when I lived in Puerto Rico, there were mango trees all over the place, often let to go wild. There was a huge old mango overhanging the parking lot of a bank, and when mangoes were in season my son and I would go there and pick all we could reach.

    The only bad thing about me and mangoes is that I'm apparently allergic to raw mango - not that I let that stop me! I cut the ripe mango into chunks and very carefully put one piece at a time in my mouth, being careful not to touch my lips or they'll blister.

    I can eat ONE mango this way. If I eat TWO, the inside of my mouth will start to blister.

    Cooked or processed mango does not affect me in this way at all, but there must be something in the raw mango that doesn't like me, no matter how much I like it.

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  38. Nupur, you have awakened all those sweet mango memories from my childhood. My uncle has a mango farm in Hyderabad, and those mangoes are the sweetest Alphonso mangoes I have ever eaten, as sweet as honey,. Ah, I miss them, I miss all those nostalgic moments, of eating mangoes, making kairi ka achaar, etc during the peak Indian summer season.
    Lovely write up and great clicks.

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  39. Thanks a lot Nupur for those wonderful snaps and the post. Hubby and me are great fans of 'hapoos', so we make it a point to grab a hold of them when they make a short appearance here. We just finished with the last one, but your post made me feel as if i was reliving tht experience.
    By the way was that show "Amhi Saare Khavaye" by any chance?
    Pallavi.

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  40. so good to see you blogging again. missed you. love your site. kolhapurat imperial-la bhet dili ki nahi?

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  41. Hi.. I am new blogger..
    you have wonderful blog!.. thank you :)

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  42. Good to see you back to blogging. Aha - the "hapus aamba" brings back some awesome memories. I agree with your reaction to the chef ... why complicate someting as pristine as a mango? There can be nothing better than a fresh mango/ aamras. Good for you that you are getting to enjoy the mango season with family. Have a great time and hope to see lots of pictures of all your culinary adventures!

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  43. Hi Nupur,

    Awesome post! Reminds me of the time when we were kids and Mango picking during the season was a dedicated chore with the whole locality pitching in.

    Sweet memories aren't they?? Enjoyed reading your post.

    Cheerz!
    Ashwini.

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  44. Nupur, I grew up in a tiny Bombay apartment, but one of our neighbors in the adjacent building had a huge old mango tree in his tiny front yard. I remember well the beautiful sight of those tiny green new fruit, although most would be gone before they had a chance to grow any bigger, thanks to all the kids in the neighborhood and their well-aimed pebbles :)
    There's truly no food on earth like a perfectly ripe Alphonso mango. After reading your post I am craving one. Have one for me! :)

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  45. The last mango picture is gorgeous, it made my mouth water! Your description of the haapus amba is wonderful, if I breathe in deeply, I can almost smell the heady fragrance! Incidently, my favourite mango recipe is similar to yours! Enjoy!

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  46. Dear Nupur,

    That was a delectable post! As a kid, I spent a few summer days at my friend's place and I remember stealing(yes, u heard that right) mangoes from her neighbour's tree. We bravely jumped from one terrace to another to pluck those alluring mangoes. We did get caught eventually after a couple of days!! We used a similar tool u mentioned (which also belonged to the neighbour btw). It had a curving blade (similar to the one The Hook sports) and a mesh bag below.

    All Hail The King (of fruits)!!!

    ~Nilu~

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  47. Before I just say "wonderful blog!" and leave:

    1. Your parents' mango tree reminds me of one from my own ajol...we used a similar device to pluck the mangoes; and yes, the monkeys beat us to it! Unfortunately, that I don't think I'll get to see that house again...but i'll be looking at your pictures for warmth.

    2. I know what show you're talking about. That guy can barely be called a chef; he makes such a mess of truly simple and delicious things. Pompous idiot; he should take a look at the food blogosphere!

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  48. What a lovely narrative in images! Thank you so much for sharing this. I'm curious too -- are these different from the mangoes you find in the grocery stores in the States? Something like an heirloom mango even?

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  49. Wow what a wonderful post...u r making us drool with all those lovely pics :)

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  50. Hi Nupur,
    Awesome pics... I am jealous. If you get some back to the US, I might actually fly all the way to Missouri !

    Glad you are back to blogging!

    Praveena

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  51. I have missed your dearly and am glad to have you back anyway you are available. It is always a delight and enlightening to read you blog.

    Hope you are having a good time in India.

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  52. hey!
    Lovely snapss!!
    really miss mangoes now!!
    Last snap makes me feel like grabbing it!!

    All the other snaps and recipes are also very nice!!

    I have recently made entry in this food blogging world and really enjoying it!!

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  53. LOL! "The birds and monkeys will beat you to it!" Now that's a sentence that I don't read everyday.

    And the recipe is perfection. : )

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  54. Hi...nice read on mangoes!! :) Loved the pics... soooooooo temoting.... :P

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  55. You said it !! better still eat it right over the sink without cutting it and let the juice run down your elbow ;)

    Missed seeing your posts and hearing from you!!!

    Miri

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  56. Wow! what a lovely posting...yummy mouthwatering photos.

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  57. Hi Nupur

    Awesome post. I logged in after ages and was treated to your mango post and it made me at once hungry and also very nostalgic. I can't believe the last time I had some good hapoos was almost a decade ago. :(

    Hope you're well and enjoying the Indian summer. Much love, Khal.

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  58. very nice post.. just what I wanted to write about. Sadly now you see aaphoos being sold without the hay as all must be artificially ripened and thus don't hae the same taste as before... your blog is really nice.

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  59. Oh!, i had missed this post.., wow what a great feast for the eyes they are so delicious, mouth watering, oh! if only i could get a box of that...., beautiful pictures too....

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  60. Beautiful pictures of mango tree and mangoes!!
    Made me remember mango trees at my parents home..

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  61. This is our mango tree's first harvest. How do I know when to pluck the mango off the tree for ripening indoors? Also, any substitute for straw?

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  62. Great article. very informative and well written. I also have a mango tree.

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