I can see it, and most importantly, smell it. Yes, it’s the box! As Dinesh hands it over to me, I take it out from the carrier bag and give it the place of pride on the kitchen counter. With anticipation, I lift the lid of the box and yes, there they are; nestled among shreds of paper lie the sweet, juicy mangoes, all eight of them. And then, the knife, plates, bowls, forks are all summoned. A couple of the precious mangoes are peeled, sliced, chopped, put into serving bowls and the forks pierce the soft fruit and transport them into those eager mouths. What a delight for the senses, as one inhales the all familiar aroma and enjoy the gorgeous taste. So many ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ are passed around!
Yes, mangoes are special. Every forkful reminds me of my childhood, of those long, summer days, when the ceiling fans droned on, trying to cool us from the heat outside; of deuta (Assamese word for ‘ father’) coming home with kilos of the fruit. Sometimes, they need not even be sliced and chopped. They were just peeled and we would devour them ( not the stone, of course), with the juice streaming down our hands and face; not very civilised, you may think. But there was probably something sensual in that experience that cannot be described. I remember how Leni mahi ( mahi- mother’s younger sister) would tempt us over the phone with the mangoes from the huge tree in her backyard. Yes, I remember those summer visits to her home when maha (mahi’s husband) would pluck the mangoes in a huge basket, for there would always be quite a few to be plucked, as I, my siblings and cousins gather round it; some of them even competing with each other for the highest number consumed. I wondered , often, if they ever felt sick!
As for the unripe mangoes, how can I forget those jars of pickles made by ma and even those special ones sent by aita ( grandmother). Even ma used to wonder, after all these years, how special aita’s aasaar ( pickle) was.
I remember the summer from nearly a decade ago when we were In Kolkata. I remember the fruit stalls nearby, as I made my way gingerly among the hordes of mango sellers, each tempting you, with their offerings. The smell of mangoes were everywhere and rows and rows of mangoes of different varieties were arranged in front of the sellers, who were shouting their wares and prices, as they tried to outdo one another, to catch the eyes of potential buyers. I was a newcomer to that city and had not yet got used to the language. Not that it was any barrier towards purchasing mangoes, but it was much better, later on, as I gradually got the hang of it- meaning I could now bargain like a local, not to mention, respond to many a friendly greeting.
Somehow, summers in India seemed to be incomplete without mangoes. Every time a box of exorbitantly priced mangoes ( after all, they are ‘exotic’ in the part of the world where we now are) makes it’s way into our home, it’s not just the fruit , but the memories that go with this luscious yellow fruit, that comes home as well. As I open the box, and it happens every time, it’s as if I’ve unlocked the floodgates of memories of all those summers of childhood years and beyond.
I’m sure , most of you who come from the subcontinent ( and who are now living outside it) will, in some way or the other , have a precious attachment with mangoes and will be able to relate to it. Not sure I can say the same about Rengoni and Agastya, who, although they are happy to have some mangoes, do not seem to be able grasp the concept of me and Dinesh getting all emotional over the fruit. But, that’s fair enough, I guess, for , when they grow up, I’m sure they will have something else to hang on to from their childhood, from their years gone by, which they can look back upon with pleasure.
It has been quite hot in our neck of the woods, as the summer sun has been shining down on us furiously.On such days, this orange and mango cooler came in handy.
the flesh of 1 small mango, pureed
1C freshly squeezed orange juice
7-8 tblsp of lemon juice
3C of water
1 tblsp sugar
- In a saucepan, whisk together all the ingredients.
- Pass the mixture through a sieve and stir well.
- Serve chilled.
That was super easy, wasn’t it? But tastes so good and refreshing, especially on a hot summer’s day.
You might like these other mango recipes from this blog-