Editor’s Note: Juicy mangoes are one of the few upsides to scorching Indian summers. While the fruit itself is perfection personified, we thought you might enjoy these recipes—which offer new ways to enjoy your favourite kind of aam. These are excerpted from Nandita Iyer’s wonderful book ‘The Great Indian Thali’—which is usefully divided into seasonal sections so you are guaranteed delicious food any time of the year. We also appreciated the useful context and tips that help the reader get the most out of each recipe. Excerpted with permission from ‘The Great Indian Thali: Seasonal Vegetarian Wholesomeness’ by Nandita Iyer, published by Roli Books.
A fine list of Aam indulgences
A drink: Aam Panna
Time taken: 30 minutes | Serves 4
A favourite thirst quencher for hot days made from raw mangoes, aam panna is regularly made in homes in north, west and eastern parts of India, each infused with local variations. Fire roasting the raw mangoes gives the drink a delicious smoky flavour.
1 large (350 g) raw mango
½ cup (80 g) raw cane sugar or
½ cup water
For each glass
¼ tsp black salt
½ tsp roasted cumin powder
2-3 mint leaves for garnish
- Roast the raw mango directly over the stove flame, rotating periodically until the skin is completely charred. Once done, a knife should be able to pass through the flesh easily.
- Peel off the skin and extract all the pulp into a mixer jar. To this, add the sugar and ½ cup water and blend to a puree.
- Transfer to a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. The concentrate for the aam panna is ready. This can be kept in a sealed bottle in the refrigerator for up to one week.
- To prepare the aam panna, in a glass, mix 1 part concentrate with 1 part water, 3-4 ice cubes, black salt, and roasted cumin powder. Garnish with mint leaves and serve.
- You can also add green cardamom powder
A chutney: Aam Ki Launji
Time taken: 25 minutes | Makes around 2 cups
The appearance of raw mangoes in markets means its pickling season. There’s a staggering variety of pickles in India and raw mangoes are one of the most popular ingredients to make pickles. Pickle making is a very precise process, from choosing the ingredients to precautions while making the pickle, allowing it to mature and storing it safely. However, there are easier recipes, such as aam ki launji that can perk up a simple meal.
2 medium sized (350 g) raw mangoes
2 tbsp mustard oil*
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp nigella seeds
½ tsp carom seeds
1/8 tsp asafoetida**
½ tsp salt
½ cup (80 g) crushed jaggery
½ tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
1 tsp black salt
- Peel and chop the raw mangoes into 1-2” long pieces around 1 cm thick. Don’t cut it too thin as the launji should still have intact pieces of the raw mango once it is ready.
- In a pan, heat the mustard oil. Once it is smoking and turns a shade lighter, add the mustard seeds. Once it stops sputtering, add the cumin seeds, fennel seeds, nigella seeds, and carom seeds. Fry for 20-30 seconds.
- Stir in the asafoetida, followed by the chopped raw mango. Toss on a medium heat to coat well with spices. Season with half teaspoon of salt. Pour in a cup and a quarter of water. Bring this to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for another 6-8 minutes until the mango pieces are tender. The time taken will depend on the variety and the size of the pieces, so keep a watch. Don’t let it overcook.
- Crumble in the jaggery at this point. Sprinkle turmeric, chilli powder, and black salt. Stir and allow to cook over high heat until the jaggery melts. Simmer this for 3-4 minutes until the sauce thickens a bit. Don’t simmer for too long as it will continue to thicken on cooling.
- Remove to a clean dry glass bottle when cool and store in the fridge. Use within a month.
* Mustard oil adds great flavour to this condiment. If you don’t have it, any other vegetable oil can be used.
** Increase asafoetida to ½ teaspoon if using compound variety that is not as strong as the pure form.
Not a pickle: Aam Kashundi
Prep time: 1-2 hours; Time taken: 10 minutes;
Fermenting time (optional): 2 days | Makes over 1 cup
This quintessential Bengali condiment with its golden yellow colour and the right balance of sweet, sour, heat, and pungency is sure to shine in any thali. It makes the salivary juices going, while also complementing almost every item on the plate. It does go best with Kolkata style street food like kathi rolls.
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
1 medium sized (200 g) raw mango
(1 cup, chopped)
4 green chillies, sliced
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp mustard oil
- Soak the black and yellow mustard seeds in half a cup of water for 1-2 hours.
- Peel and chop the raw mango into small pieces, scraping off all the flesh from the stone. Discard the stone.
- In a mixer jar, combine the chopped raw mango, drained mustard seeds, chillies, sugar, and salt. Blend to get a fine puree. Pour the oil into this paste and pulse a couple of times until you get a creamy sauce.
- Transfer this to a clean dry glass jar. Close loosely with a lid and allow to sit on the counter for a couple of days for it to ferment slightly. Close the lid tightly and refrigerate. This will easily stay for 2-3 weeks.
A main dish: Ripe Mango Curry
Time taken: 30 minutes | Serves 4
This mango curry is best made using the smallest variety of mangoes, usually the foraged ones. Here, I have used a rare variety called ‘shakkar guthli’, which is said to be from the Nizam era in present-day Telangana state. These fruits are very small, each weighing just under 50 grams. You can use a large variety of mango in this recipe by cutting it into quarters or bite-sized chunks.
8 small sized (400 g) ripe mangoes
1 tbsp tamarind (or use 1 tsp tamarind paste)
1 tbsp coconut oil
½ tsp fenugreek seeds
½ tsp mustard seeds
4 dried red chillies
2 sprigs curry leaves
½ tsp ground turmeric
½-1 tsp red chilli powder (use Kashmiri variety
for lesser heat and bright colour)
1-2 tbsp powdered jaggery (or use
soft brown sugar)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp rice flour (or cornstarch) [optional]
- Make a small nick at the stem end of the mangoes and pull off the peels using fingers. Soak the peels in a bowl with 1 cup water.
- Crush the peels in the bowl of water, extracting every bit of pulp stuck to them. Squeeze out well and discard the peels. Reserve the mango water.
- Soak the tamarind in ½ cup hot water for 5-10 minutes. Squeeze out all the pulp and reserve it.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan. Fry the fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, and red chillies for 30 seconds.
- Add the curry leaves and fry until bright green and crisp.
- To this, add the peeled mangoes and toss over high heat for 1-2 minutes.
- Pour in the reserved mango peel water and the tamarind pulp (or paste). Stir in the ground turmeric, chilli powder, jaggery powder, and salt. Stir to combine well. Bring this to a simmer.
- Cover the pan with a lid and allow the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes so that the mangoes absorb the flavours from all the spices. Let the curry base thicken. If you want a thicker sauce, make a slurry of rice flour in 1 tbsp water and add it to the simmering sauce with constant stirring. Remove into a serving bowl and serve with steamed rice.
Something meetha: Aamrakhand
Time taken: 15 minutes | serves 4
This is a dessert served as a part of the main meal in Maharashtrian cuisine. Eaten along with hot puri, it is one of summer’s delicacies. In Maharashtra, dairy shops sell hung yoghurt called chakka. It is easily made at home by straining full cream yoghurt.
1 cup (250 g) hung yoghurt*
2 cups (250 g) powdered sugar
2-3 tbsp whole milk
½ cup (130 g) thick mango pulp
¼ tsp ground green cardamom seeds
Few strands of saffron
1 tsp chopped pistachios
- Keep a fine meshed strainer over a bowl. Transfer the hung yoghurt to the strainer. Using a silicone spatula, rub the yoghurt so that creamy yoghurt with smooth consistency gets collected in the bowl below.
- Put the strainer aside.
- Add the sugar to the bowl and, using a wooden spoon or fork, whisk the yoghurtsugar mixture for 4-5 minutes, until well combined and fluffy. Use milk by the spoonful to get a smooth consistency that resembles a cream cheese frosting.
- Tip in the mango pulp into this bowl along with ground green cardamom and whisk once again until well combined and fluffy.
- Transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with saffron strands and pistachios.
- Serve with hot puris.