Is there anything more intoxicating than the smell of a ripe mango? To me, it is the unadulterated smell of summer. The sweet, sticky juice running through your fingers, down your chin and, more often than not, down your chest is the ultimate messy indulgence, best consumed over the sink or in your backyard.
A tropical fruit indigenous to the Indian subcontinent, the mango is the national fruit of India, Pakistan and the Philippines. In India it is also believed to be a symbol of love and a granter of wishes, with mango leaves used in marriage ceremonies and house-warming celebrations.
While we are partial to the sweetness of a mango, the Mexicans like their mangoes with chilli powder, while the street vendors in Indonesia and Thailand will serve you green mango with a little sugar or salt and are also partial to a little chilli.
Considered one of the super-fruits, the mango is a great option for the health-conscious. It is rich in vitamin A, E and selenium, which help to protect against heart disease. Mangoes are also extremely low in calories and only half a mango counts as one of the five fruits we are encouraged to eat every day … you just try and stop at half!
Select and store
The ripe fruit can vary in colour and size depending on the cultivar it can be yellow, red or green when ripe. You can store an unripe mango in a brown paper bag out of direct sunlight until ripe. You will know a mango is ripe when the perfume is so intense you can’t help but eating it!
Chilli, cucumber, yoghurt, strawberries, banana, beef, pork, fish, chicken, salt, avocado, coriander, mint,
Cutting a mango
There are two options here:
Dice first, peel second
This method is handy because you don’t have to grip the slippery flesh, but works best for a big dice or eating with your fingers.
- Hold the mango on its head with the narrow side closest to you. With the knife a little off centre, cut the cheek away from the pip with one long gentle slice. The knife should barely skim the surface of the pip.
- Cut off the other cheek in the same way.
- Score the flesh with the tip of a pairing knife cutting a criss-cross pattern. Be careful not to cut into the skin.
- Invert the mango halves so the fruit pops out from the skin (it will look a little like a hedgehog) and devour with your fingers or, for a more sophisticated approach, carefully cut the cubes away from the skin.
Peel first, dice or slice second
This option is great if you are looking for slices of mango or a small pretty dice.
- Cut a thin slice off the base of the mango so it will rest on the board without wobbling.
- Stand the mango up and cut the skin away in careful, narrow strips.
- As above, slice off the cheek just skimming the pip and then cut around the narrow ends.
Frozen mango cheeks
In the height of summer there is nothing as refreshing as a frozen mango cheek. Simply skin the mango and remove the mango cheeks (as per option 2 above), wrap in cling wrap and freeze until required. This is also a great way to preserve extra mangoes when purchased in bulk.
Mango and cucumber salsa
Dice 2 mangoes, ½ a cucumber and ½ a red capsicum into 1 cm pieces. Combine in a bowl with a few tablespoons of finely chopped coriander, 1 sliced spring onion, and a finely chopped large red chilli (seeds removed to lessen the heat). Add a good squeeze of fresh lime juice, a pinch of sugar and a good lashing of salt and pepper. Combine gently with fingers. This is a great flavour burst to accompany simply cooked chicken, pork or fish.
This traditional North Indian drink is a cross between a smoothie and a milk shake. In a blender combine 1 cup of plain yoghurt with the flesh of one mango, 1 or 2 tablespoons of honey (to your taste) and a small squeeze of lemon juice. Blend until combined and then add 6 ice cubes and blend again until frothy.