An illustrated guide to the mangoes of Delhi

Dasheri   | Photo Credit: Illustration by Ritesh Kumar

You can put it in a chutney or a cheesecake, but the most satisfying way to eat a mango is to savour the pulp, scrape the skin and pick on the seed, even as its juice runs down your chin.

Way back in the ‘60s, before traffic and high-rise buildings took over, Delhi boasted mango orchards. Located near Mehrauli, these were planted during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Akbar Shah II (1760-1837). Among the varieties cultivated were the Saroli, Dasheri, Langra and Chausa. The city, it seems still loves these and more. Mirza Ghalib had the last word as he said mangoes need to have two qualities: they must be sweet and plentiful. Let the eating begin.


Safeda   | Photo Credit: Illustration by Ritesh Kumar

The real Safeda

What is sold to Delhiities as Safeda is actually Banganapalle from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. A single piece can weight upto half a kilo, but you’ll typically get about three or four in a kg.

Arriving in May and continuing until June, the fleshy fruit has a suckable seed, and skin that’s neither thick nor thin. “As it’s firm with not much fibre, it is ideal for slicing,” says Sohail Hashmi, the historian who organises the annual Rataul mango walk. At its ripest, it’s very sweet; but just before, has a sour tinge.

It works well in a shake, a salad, or just eaten plain. Safeda makes for the perfect mango salsa to go with grill fish. “Its sweet-and-sour flavour makes it ideal for the dish,” says Nakul Puranik, Sous Chef, The Park, New Delhi.

According to Hashmi, the original Safeda, which hails from the Awadh region in Uttar Pradesh, what are now Lucknow and Malihabad, is juicy, syrupy but not large. “Hazarding a guess, the name was probably derived from the white spots on the yellow outer shell.”


Sindhuri   | Photo Credit: Illustration by Ritesh Kumar

The tangy Sindhuri

Sindhuri is a moderate-sized fruit with a mid-sized seed, grown primarily in Malihabad. At its ripest, it has a reddish patch on the top, which is attached to the tree, while the lower half is all yellow. “Pleasing to the eye, this colour combination is what makes the fruit stand out,” says Hashmi. Although available for a short duration, only during May, it is greatly cherished. Full of juice, the pulp is yellow, sweet with a bit of tanginess.

Recipe for pan grilled fish with mango salsa
  • For mango salsa, ingredients: Safeda mango ripe – 100 gm (chopped and deseed); Cilantro – 20 gm (chopped); Mint – 20 gm (chopped); Lemon juice – 20 ml; Ginger – 10 gm (chopped); Green chillies – 10 gm (chopped); Olive oil – 20 ml; Salt – to taste; Crushed black Pepper – to taste. Method: Add all the ingredients together, mix them together and set the seasoning. Let the salsa rest overnight for best results.
  • For pan-grilled fish, ingredients: River sole or red snapper fillet – 100 gm; Thyme – 20 gm; Kosher salt – to taste; Crushed black Pepper – to taste; Olive oil – 20 ml. Method: Pat dry the fish fillet, and score the fish from skin side, rub thyme on the skin side. Generously sprinkle salt and pepper on all sides of the fish. Heat oil in the pan and put the fish in the pan skin side first, keep on basting from the pan oil. Turn the fish when the skin side is crispy and golden brown, cook on the other side. Serve with grilled vegetables and mango salsa.
  • Recipe courtesy Chef Nakul Puranik, Sous Chef, The Park, New Delhi

Beautiful inside Saroli

Making a brief appearance at the same time during this month is Saroli, which lasts till early June. It is cultivated in Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Ghaziabad, Baghpat, Kakori, Malihabad areas of Uttar Pradesh among others. Oblong, this green-hued ripe fruit has blackish blotches. What it lacks in appearance is made up for by its pulp, which has very little fibre. If firm, it can be sliced, while soft ones allow the pulp to be sucked out. Explaining the dark patches, Hashmi says: “It is the sap which is sticky and acidic that flows onto the fruit to become black.”

Dasheri sweet

Half-way through May, Dasheri makes a grand entry to enthral its lovers till June and beyond. It finds its way to the Capital from several regions of Uttar Pradesh, including Baghpat and Rataul, with Malihabad being the largest producer.

Hashmi says the palm-sized Dasheri is the one to pick, because it’s aromatic and has a seed that’s not too large. “The colour of the skin is very deep yellow, bordering orange. The pulp, with very little fibre, allows the knife to go through as if it’s butter.” Even when raw, it is not sour and the ripe ones are uniform in taste from top to bottom. It is an ideal ingredient to go with ice cream, and are just right for desserts. There are larger versions, which compromise on the taste. “They are ideal for gifting,” quips Hashmi. Mix the pulp with cold milk for dessert.


Langda   | Photo Credit: Illustration by Ritesh Kumar

Centre-sour Langra

Langra begins this month and ends early July. Larger than Dasheri, it is heavy. The fully ripe one is light green, while the raw variety has a deeper hue of green. A very fleshy, succulent fruit with some fibre, it stands out for its sourness, which is perhaps why it is called Langra, says Hashmi. It comes from Malihabad and Malda in West Bengal. “The Malda mango has an edge in terms of flavour. The difference is decipherable only when the two are eaten together.” Langra also works for desserts that bring out its sweet-sour flavour.


Chausa   | Photo Credit: Illustration by Ritesh Kumar

The Chausa challenge

Arriving in June and continuing until early July is the Chausa. There are always those who pit the Dasheri against the Chausa. “Known as Samar-E-Behisht (fruit from heaven), it has bit of an edge. Large, but not plump, they are six to seven inches in size with the ripe ones being absolutely yellow. Devoid of fibre, it has plenty of pulp,” observes Hashmi. Grown in Bareilly, Aligarh, Baghpat, Hathras and Mathura, among other places, it melds well with dairy – eat it with ice cream, blitz it into a shake, or add it in a salad with some feta.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2021 1:38:41 AM |

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