The King of Fruit assumes various avatars at The Great Mango Festival
Mangoes. Cardboard cartons interleaved with straw, filling the air with the heady scent of gently ripening fruit. Green slivers smeared with salt and chilli powder exploding in your mouth in a burst of tart spicy flavours. Bandy-legged little boys in brightly coloured shorts clambering up tall trees, poised linen-clad women dipping their spoons into crystal goblets filled with the fruit, toothless old men sucking frantically at the stony seed unmindful of the juice that spills on their clothes leaving behind large yellow stains—everyone loves the mango. Versatile, coveted, indescribably appealing, infused with memories of subterfuge and slothful summer afternoons—the mango’s timeless allure and almost universal appeal more than justifies it being called the King of Fruit.
And the Grand Mecure’s "The Great Mango Festival" celebrates the fruit wholeheartedly by serving a plethora of mango-based drinks, starters, soups, mains and desserts.
We start with a thick drink composed of blended mango pulp—the tart sweetness of fresh, unadulterated alphonso mangoes is refreshing but hardly original. Next come the mango mezze platter—the white plate decorated with swirls of vegetable peel and spatters of brightly coloured salsa is indeed a treat to the eye.
The pièce de résistance is a mango crostini-tiny bits of bread topped with sliced mango held together by some unfathomable concoction that makes the final product simply delicious. With that is a tasty enough mango pulp hummus and a mango flavoured yoghurt sauce.
Then we are served a mango carpaccio—thin slivers of mango on watermelon batons, garnished with fresh ground pepper and sea salt. Deceptively simple though it seems, the flavours work brilliantly together leaving one hungering for more.
Next came the soup—one hot and the other cold. The thick minty mango and crunchy ginger veloutte is a fruity equivalent of grandma’s chicken soup—warm, comforting and simply delicious but the mango gazpacho, didn’t quite work for me. Perhaps it is because I don’t really get cold soups—but it sort of reminds me of tamarind chutney.
We go on to the main course- mango ravioli and a leg of mango chutney stuffed chicken. Both were beautifully cooked and served. Though seemingly an eclectic mix, the herb, fruit and spices garnishing the main elements blend together surprisingly well.
With dessert of course, the mango completely came into its own. Mango crumble—a warm pastry crust oozing sweet mango pulp and topped with crumble. A melt-in-your mouth mango gateaux—chopped fruit between layers of vanilla sponge and topped with whipped cream and a mango tiramisu — mango flavour cheese cream sandwiched between layers of sponge cake. A rather interesting cheesecake of white chocolate and mango, over which is poured a chilled consommé of raw mango. Perhaps the only let down was the mango sashimi—the flavours clash terribly with each other, leaving behind a curious bitter-sweet taste in your mouth. But the other desserts truly make up for it—they celebrate the fruit with a vengeance, exploiting its rich flavours to create something stunning and memorable.
The festival is on till the 26 of May at the Grand Mercure, Bangalore. Call 4512 1212 for further details.