There was a time when we ate mangoes straight out of the large old zinc bathtub they had been soaking in to cool – for they came out quite warm from under the bales of rice straw of the adhi (आंब्याचीअढी) where they had been gestating.
We would wait for days, taking a sneak peak at the mangoes when any adult would go in to check on them. The wait would be quite agonising, but then we were such drama queens…
There were so many summer goodies to eat – the succulent munjals (palmyra fruit) the cooling phalsa (grewia fruit), the glossy purple jambuls (java plums) and a mélange of melons of all sizes, colours and descriptions.
Yet, the mango loomed large in our prospects. The longer it took for the mangoes to ripen, the more they would be coveted. Shruti Nargundkar
Like flies to wanton boys, we were drawn to the fragrance of the rice straw and the sweet, sticky distinctive smell of mangoes emanating from garden shed.
Spot after gilded spot, we impatiently charted their seasoning.
And one day these golden gods would be pronounced ripe and ready.
They would be picked gently out of their hotbeds, carefully brushed with blades of straw and plunged into the old zinc tub filled with cool water drawn from the depths of the dredged well.
We kids would then be unceremoniously stripped of most of our clothes – our mothers knew too well how hard it was to scrub off mango stains from clothes.
Dressed in singlet and shorts – No! – baniyans and bodyfrocks- we would sit on the stone steps of the back yard with the gang of cousins.We would select a mango, hold the fruit between our pincers at the stem-scab and the sharp paisley-point, and squeeze and rotate the mango in one continuous motion till it was a soft and pliant.
The skin would often burst, sending amber juice squirting into our eyes or the fleshy stone plopping onto our clothes - mishaps that would send us into giggling fits and more mischief. If all went well, the mango was now at our disposal to be sucked-tucked into.
The juice fully relished, the skin would be peeled off and gnawed clean. Our teeth would rake the juice out of the fleshy drupe, combing patterns into the fast desiccating fibres.
This would go on, mango after mango.
We would then surface for breath, as exhausted as the mango.
But not for long, for our eyes would rove the rows of submerged mangoes and we would reach out for yet another-with slithering hands dripping juice at the elbows…
In another faraway land, in another hemisphere with topsy-turvey seasons where these old favourites are banned, we bring home corpulent cultured local mangoes, but in twos and threes.
We cut two of these between the four of us, and sometimes even put away a few slices we may not be able to finish. At times we incarnate the fleshy fruit into dishes quite flashy.
There is none of the gut-busting-gorging of our bucolic frolic, only some polite polishing off…….. of an almond adulterated pretentious parfait…Mango Almond Parfait
2 large ripe mangoes – skinned and chopped finely into a puree (reserve some for garnishing)
Sugar/sweetener- as required
1cup plain Greek yoghurt or any thick creamy yoghurt (not very sour)
½ cup almond meal
Some granola clusters, the reserve chopped mango and a handful of pomegranate arils for garnishing
Adjust the sweetness of the mango puree by adding the sugar/sweetener. You may not need it at all if the mango is sweet. Since the parfait is going to be chilled well, it might need to be a little sweeter than you would have it at room temperature.
Combine the yogurt and almond meal and whisk until fluffy and light.
In a tall glass layer the yogurt mixture and mango puree going ¾ of the way up. Cover with cling film and chill for a few hours.