There’s an element of nostalgia attached to the mangoes arriving in waves of musky scented splendour through the summer. Readers of a certain age may remember a time when, unencumbered by lockdowns and electronic entertainment, they spent summer vacations scaling mango trees or using a koduval (a long stick with a sickle blade attached to it) to pluck the fruit stealthily from orchards, enjoying it with chilli powder and salt.
But while South Asian recipes tend to favour the tropical fruit in a myriad savoury ways, mangoes can also be used in sweeter, more globalised avatars such as smoothies, pies and cakes.
The soft flesh of the mango lends itself particularly well to Western desserts. “As pastry chefs, we wait for the Alphonso mango season to set in and plan our special menu in advance. From crème brulees, tarts, sorbets and cheesecakes to modern entremets, mangoes blend easily with most other ingredients. Chocolate goes surprisingly well with fresh mangoes,” says chef Anees Khan, founder of Star Anise Patisserie in Mumbai.
- Ingredients: 125gm whipping cream; 150gm mango puree (squeezed from fresh mangoes); 115gm cream cheese; 100gm granola (or coarsely powdered digestive biscuits); 2 ½ tablespoons melted butter; 1 chopped mango; Few finely chopped mint leaves (or 1 tsp mint extract)
- Add whipping cream to the bowl of a cream beater with the whisk attachment and beat on medium high speed for about four to five minutes, until soft peaks are formed. Add mango puree, cream cheese and mint leaves. Whisk for a minute or so till combined well.
- Crumble the granola to form chunky crumbs. To assemble, take the serving jars/glasses, and layer granola mixture and the mousse alternately, using a spoon or piping bag. Garnish with fresh mint and serve chilled.
The fruit is the star of recipes like ‘Flan de mango’ in Colombia, a pudding bolstered with cream, eggs and condensed milk. In Australia, barbecued peeled mango slices top a rich trifle built up with meringue bases layered with mascarapone cheese and coconut cream.
The ‘fool’ is a class of colonial-era chilled desserts from Africa, that combines fresh fruit with cream. Mango fool, a popular Cameroonian dessert, simply purees the pulp of two or three fruits with lime juice and sugar, and further folds in cream seasoned with nutmeg. The cooled mixture is served in glasses garnished with fresh mango slices.
Long before readymade ice creams became the norm, many families had a wooden hand-cranked ice cream or gelato maker that would be pulled out for al fresco dessert sessions.
The most common churn model consisted of a wooden bucket packed with ice and sprinkled with rock salt, with an inner metal container that was filled with the ice cream mixture. An external handle was rotated manually long enough for the machine to simultaneously freeze the mixture while aerating it. As a result, the ice cream would be ready to serve immediately, usually to the hungry souls who had laboured over the crank.
Chef Shantanu Gupte, founder of Shiifu and Chef Shan Cakes in Mumbai, names the mango pot ice cream as one of his favourite desserts featuring the tropical fruit, over email. “The taste and texture of mango pot ice cream with real mango chunks is unmatched by the commercial, pulp-laden mango ice creams. I can never forget the good old days when all of us kids, cousins and relatives would gather on roof tops to make the ice cream with the hand-cranked churn. Cooking is not just about having your favourite recipe to eat. It’s an emotion,” he says.
So as the mangoes flow in, here are two recipes to try out this summer:
Mango frangipane tart recipe, by Anees Khan
145gm unsalted butter; 75gm condensed milk; 185gm flour; Pinch of salt; Zest of half a lemon; 5 ml vanilla Essence; 100gm unsalted butter; 100gm icing sugar; 25gm flour; 70ml milk; 100gm almond powder; 100gm milk; 20gm sugar; 8gm custard powder
In a stand mixer, cream the butter and add condensed milk and mix well.
Fold in the flour, salt, lemon zest and the juice and the vanilla essence. Do not over-mix the pate sucree dough. Cling wrap and refrigerate for three to four hours.
To make the frangipane, beat butter and icing sugar. Add milk and mix well. Fold in the flour and the almond powder. Mix well. Keep covered in the fridge.
Boil milk and sugar for the custard. Make a paste by adding a little milk to the custard powder. Add this to the boiling milk and whisk vigorously until the back of the spoon gets coated. Remove from fire and allow it to cool.
Roll out the pate sucrée dough to four mm thin and layer on a tart base. Fill a piping bag with the frangipane and pipe on the base of the tart, leaving a gap of quarter inch till the top. Bake at 180°Celsius for 10 to 15 minutes. Cool. Now fill a piping bag with the softened custard cream and pipe on top of the frangipane. Decorate with peeled and cut fresh Alphonso mangoes as shown. Dust icing sugar using a sieve and garnish with slivered pistachios. Serve chilled.