Food – Mango dishes to fall in love with

Nowhere in the world is mango more revered than its birthplace of India. Picture: LANCE SEETO

Mangoes.

Sweet and delicious, healthy and invigorating, all parts of this magical fruit is nutritionally beneficial.

Even when raw and green, the king of fruits can be transformed into delicious salads, pickles and achar.

So, it was sad to recently read that some mango farmers are having problems selling their harvests due to a lack of demand and over supply of mangoes.

As many readers will know, I am a huge believer in the timely supply of seasonal fruits and vegetables from nature.

I believe they are provided for medicine and nutrition to all living creatures, and mangoes are packed full of vitamins and minerals.

So, I thought it was a timely reminder to help more people rediscover a love of this seasonal treasure from Mother Nature, as it would be an enormous shame if we just left them to rot by the roadside when we should be eating them.

While many may see the mango as just another fruit, its sweet fragrance and distinctive flavour has delighted humankind for more than 6000 years, and with such a revered place in our history, the journey and story of mango is one of the most fascinating of all our tropical fruits.

They bring tidings of good fortune, have had poems written about them in the ancient Sanskrit scriptures, and Buddha supposedly found rest and repose in a grove of mango trees as he contemplated the universe.

Mangoes have travelled oceans and continents and have seen the rise and fall of civilisations and empires, resulting in their culinary appreciation in nearly every continent and culture on the planet.

Where did mango originate? History yields some very interesting facts about this celebrated fruit. Indians have known the mango since very early times, around 4000 BCE.

However fossil evidence indicates that the mango made its first appearance 25 to 30 million years ago in northeast India, Myanmar and Bangladesh, from where it travelled down to southern India.

Can you imagine having never seen or tasted a mango, how excited early explorers and traders must have felt?

It is with little wonder that mango plants were taken on voyages to Malaya and eastern Asia by Buddhist monks as early as the 4th and 5th centuries.

Persian traders travelling along the spice routes, carried the seeds to the Middle East and Africa, with the first trees being planted in east Africa in the 10th century.

With the arrival of the Portuguese in India in the 15th century, it was later spread to South America, the Philippines and to West Africa.

By the mid- 1700s they were growing in Barbados in the West Indies, and cultivation soon followed in Florida and Mexico by the early nineteenth century, and California in the 1880s.

By the 1800s, the mango had also found its way to Australia and the Pacific islands where it has been grown ever since.

Health and nutritional benefits

It goes without saying that mango is another one of nature’s great medicinal gifts; and when they come into season we are reminded to immediately add them to our diet.

One cup of mango contains 100 calories, zero fat and zero cholesterol.

One cup of mango will fulfil 12 per cent of your daily fibre requirements.

The same serving will also provide 100 per cent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C, 35 per cent of vitamin A, 20 per cent of folate, 10 per cent of vitamin B6, and 8 per cent of both vitamin K and potassium.

They also provide copper, calcium, and iron, and are rich in the antioxidants beta-carotene and zeaxanthin.

With their rich vitamin A content and antioxidants, they may also help to regenerate and restore skin cells, while the vitamin C helps to boost collagen production.

Basically, mango is one big handful of delicious medicine that repairs both inside and outside the body.

To soften skin, combine the fruit of one mango, one tablespoon of honey, and a half cup of fresh coconut milk in a blender.

Rub vigorously on your skin in the bath or shower, and rinse with warm and then cool water.

It will leave your skin feeling soft and supple!

How to select and store Mangoes come in a variety of colours, including yellow, orange, green, and red, but a red hue doesn’t necessarily mean it’s ripe.

To judge ripeness, squeeze gently.

A ripe one will have a slight give with fingertip pressure, and will smell sweet at the stem end.

An unripe mango has a sour taste and astringent effect on your tongue and lips, so choose carefully if you’re planning to eat it the same day.

Mangoes that are still a bit green will ripen more quickly if placed in a brown paper bag out of direct sunlight.

Otherwise, store at room temperature for a few days.

You can also slow down the ripening process by putting them in the fridge, but whole mangoes should not be frozen.

You can, however, cut up the ripe ones and combine them with sugar and tequila or vodka to make a refreshing, fruity homemade sorbet.

After freezing, restore fresh mangoes to room temperature when you’re ready to eat, to get the full natural flavour.

Don’t let them rot on the ground!

Pick them up and save them for another day.

Recipes from around the world Apart from enjoying the lusciousness of a ripe mango dripping down the sides of your mouth, mangoes are mainly turned into pickles and achar when green, and jams, cakes and juice when ripe.

However, the mangoes vast travels throughout history also reveals many other ways the king of fruits is enjoyed around the world.

In Latin America, street vendors sell them skewered on a stick and peeled back for a cool, refreshing treat or cut them up, or whip them into a tasty salsa.

There are limitless ideas to use mango as a juice for cocktails and mocktails, ice cream and jams.

They’re a perfect addition to a cool fruit salad and work just as well with other fruits or in green salads alongside cucumber, tomato, avocado and lettuce. Mango is also the perfect accompaniment to fish, chicken, pork and are
absolutely divine with barbecued ribs or even added to a fish kokoda.

I also love using ripe mango as a natural sweetener in wet dishes including curries, stews and casseroles.

When I think of mango in Asian cooking, I drool at the thought of mango beef, mango pork, mango chicken, mango prawns – the list is endless.

And if you’re looking for another salad component, grate or shave them while their green for delicious crunch.

Whether you eat them, cook them or give them away as gifts of friendship and love; you will be following more than 6000 years of tradition, and at the same time get a healthy kick of vitamin C and fibre.

Recipes

Thai green mango salad

Although we all love ripened mango, make sure you don’t pass up those rock hard green mangoes.

Many cultures around the world make use of these under-ripened mangoes and there’s good reason: green mangoes have great tart flavour and an addictive crunchy texture.

This Thai green mango salad has a combination of flavour and texture; a harmonious balance of savoury, sour, sweet and hot.

  • 1 green mango, thinly julienned or shaved
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 bongo chillies, thinly sliced, seeds removed
  • 1 handful of roasted peanuts
  • 1 small handful of dried shrimp (from Chinese shops)
  • juice of 1 lime (around 3-4 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Small handful of roughly chopped coriander (fresh dhaniya)

    1. Start by julienning or shaving your mango into thin strips.

  • 2. Soak the dried shrimp in water for 30 minutes, then strain and squeeze them dry.
  • 3. In a mortar and pestle, combine the sliced chillies, sliced onions, peanuts and dried shrimp. Lightly pound the ingredients until the whole peanuts break up. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle you can place the ingredients into a plastic bag and lightly crush the ingredients with a rolling pin or rock.
  • 4. Combine this mixture with the shredded mango. In a separate bowl, combine the lime juice, fish sauce and sugar and mix until the sugar is dissolved.
  • 5. Pour it over the salad and add the coriander and toss together.
  • 6. Serve immediately

Mango & chilli chutney chicken

This is a great stir fry recipe that is sweet and hot.

I use the FRIEND brand chilli chutney to create this wonderful dish that accentuates fresh mango.

Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup raw cashew nuts (or any other nut)
  • 500 gram boneless chicken (thigh is best), sliced thin
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon FRIEND chilli chutney (adjust if too hot)
  • 1 small red capsicum pepper, roughly chopped, seeds removed
  • 1 onion, sliced into big pieces
  • 1 cup diced fresh mango

1. Heat the oil in a wok or large frypan over medium-high heat. Fry the nuts until they just start to change colour. Remove from pan and set on paper towel.

2. In the same wok or pan, add the garlic and let cook for 30 seconds. Add the sliced chicken along with the fish sauce, oyster sauce, brown sugar, and chili chutney. Stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the vegetables.

3. Continue to stir-fry until vegetables are tender-crisp, then add the mango and return the cashews to the pan. Toss well, and remove from heat.

4. Serve with steamed rice.

Mango jerk wings

This is one of the ultimate ways to enjoy mango with the cheap cuts of chicken wings. Serves 4.

  • 1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil
  • ½ medium sized onion, chopped
  • 1½ cups mango, sliced and cubed
  • ¼ cup lime or lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup mango nectar or orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1½ teaspoons ground allspice (pimento)
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 kg chicken wings, disjointed
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. Add oil to pan then cook onion until tender.

2. Next saute mango until tender.

3. Add mango, lime or lemon juice and mango nectar or orange juice, brown sugar, honey and all spices to blender or food processor and grind until smooth. If it needs to thin a bit more, add a little bit more juice.

4. Pour marinade into a plastic bag and submerge chicken in marinade. Seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 8 hours.

5. Preheat oven to 185 degrees Celsius and line a baking sheet with non-stick foil or greaseproof paper.

6. Remove chicken from marinade and season on both sides with salt and pepper.

7. Bake chicken on first side for 15 minutes then turn over. For more flavour, feel free to baste chicken with marinade
during cooking.

8. Cook for another 10-15 minutes or until chicken is completely done, marinade is sticky on chicken and it is browned.

9. Enjoy!

Sesame mango teriyaki chicken

Although chicken pairs well with mango, you can substitute this recipe with any meat or seafood.

You could also use a store-bought Teriyaki sauce if you don’t have time to make your own.

Serves 4

For the Teriyaki Sauce:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup light soy sauce
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced, smashed, or in paste form
  • ½ cup chicken broth

Ingredients 

  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 kg boneless skinless chicken (or chicken pieces)
  • ¼ cup corn flour
  • A generous pinch of salt and pepper
  • A generous pinch of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil
  • 2-3 cups fresh mango chunks
  • Sesame seeds, green onions, sesame oil, Asian fish sauce, or limes for topping
  • Cooked rice for serving

1. In a food processor or blender, puree the sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, and ginger. Continue to blend or
process until very smooth. Set aside.

2. Thinly slice the onion. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Combine the flour, salt, pepper, and chili powder in
a shallow dish and dredge each piece of chicken in the flour mixture to get a light coating.

3. Heat the oil over medium high heat in a large pan. Add the onions and stir fry for a few minutes. Add the chicken
and stir fry for a few minutes until browned.

4. Add the sauce and the broth (turn heat down to avoid splatter) – adding more broth if needed to thin out the sauce.

  • Lance Seeto is the chef/owner of Nadi’s premiere fusion gastropub, Kanu Restaurant.

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