Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Mango Mania: Soup, Ratatouille and Upside Down Cake

“Langras from Benares, for those who liked their mangoes tart; dussebris from Lucknow for those who liked them sweet and smooth; and chusnis, small sucking mangoes for those who preferred not to eat the fruit at all but to suck the juice straight from the skin.” (from: Climbing the Mango Trees by Madhur Jaffrey)

Flaming red to pale green, the mango is a fascinating fruit. It can be oblique oval, round as an apple, flat oblong, or shaped like a kidney. It can be big as a football, or small as a duck’s egg. Mango is a stone fruit, revered for its juicy, buttery soft flesh. It has a unique aroma that lingers between peach and pineapple, with a hint of citrus.
Color is not always an indication that a mango is ripe. A ripe mango smells “ready to eat” (smell it around the stem). It has a sweet fragrance, and feels soft under the skin. An overripe mango bruises easily, and smells cloyingly sweet. You can buy unripe mangoes, and leave them at room temperature to ripen. As for fibrous mango: the flatter ones (and flesh closer to the stone) can be very stringy. In that case, hold the mango over a container and “strip-squeeze” the pulp off.

This time of year (in Dubai) sees an abundance of fresh mango flown in from India and beyond. It is an abundance that brought on a mango mania in my kitchen. Below are three recipes with mango. Enjoy!
curried carrot and mango soup, served chilled
A Three Course Mango Meal

Curried Carrot and Mango Soup 
(makes 1 liter)
2 large carrot, diced (makes about 2 full cups)
1 medium sized mango, just ripe (you want a tart, not too sweet mango), diced
1 small/medium red onion, diced
1 tbsp curry powder (use your own favorite)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 cups (approx) vegetable stock 
1 cup coconut milk (coconut milk + stock is about 1 liter)
the juice of 1 small lime (to taste if your mango is sweet, leave out if you use a sour mango)
salt/pepper to taste
crème fraiche (optional)
fresh koriander (optional)
  • Heat the oil. Add onions and fry gently over low heat until soft. 
  • Add the carrots, stir well and leave to cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  • When the carrots have softened (and a little caramelised), add spice mix and stir.
  • Mix coconut milk and stock together and add 3/4 of it to the carrots (keeping 1/4 to add at the end if needed). Simmer for 20 minutes.
  • When the carrots are really soft (you can squash them easily with a fork), add the diced mango and simmer for another 5 minutes. 
  • Add the lime juice (if the soup is on the sweet side). Puree until smooth with a (hand-held) blender, adding the remaining stock as needed. Taste, and garnish with crème fraiche and koriander.
  • Serve hot or cold.
curried carrot soup served hot with koriander and a dollop of creme fraiche

    Ratatouille of Roasted Eggplant, Cherry Tomatoes, Red Pepper and Mango 
    (4 side portions)
    1 medium to large buttery sweet mango, diced
    1 large eggplant, diced
    1 red pepper (capsicum), cleaned and diced
    1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
    1 medium onion, sliced
    2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
    pinch cayenne pepper
    pinch cumin
    pinch paprika powder (preferably smoked)
    salt/pepper to taste
    • Preheat the oven to 200C. 
    • Toss the eggplant, onion, and red pepper with a little olive oil, the spices and some salt in an oven tray.
    • Roast in the hot oven for 20 -30 minutes, tossing 2-3 times. 
    • The vegetables are ready when they are starting to char a little, and have softened. 
    • Add the diced mango, mix in gently. Do the same with the cherry tomatoes. Roast for another 3-5 minutes (depending on how "roasted" you want the tomatoes to be).
    • Serve as a side dish with roast chicken, quail or duck for instance. Or with grilled fish. It makes an excellent vegetarian salad tossed with quinoa, and even better served with grilled halloumi.
    mango ratatouille with quinoa and roasted quail
    Raspberry and Mango Medley Upside Down Cake

    50 gr unsalted butter
    100 gr raw cane sugar
    2 cups ripe various mango, cut into chunks*
    1 cup raspberries
    note: adjust the amounts of raspberry and mango to your own liking
    100 gr soft unsalted butter
    125 gr granulated sugar
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    pinch of salt
    1 tsp finely grated lemon peel
    2 large eggs
    200 gr self-raising flour, sifted
    ¼ cup milk (approx)

    *choose a selection of different mangoes for this cake if you can. In this one, I used badami, Alphonso, and long Kenya mango. It makes for variation in color and taste.

    Cake pan choice:
    You can choose the diameter of your cake pan depending on the kind of cake you want. A 20 cm diameter will  give you a taller cake with a thicker fruit top (it will also need longer in the oven at a slightly lower temperature (175C). In a cake pan of 25cm diameter, your cake will be more of a pie (flatter), be more sticky (the caramel has more surface to bubble into the batter).
    • Preheat the oven to 190C (175C if using a 20 cm cake pan). 
    • Melt the butter in the cake pan. Add the sugar and melt until dissolved. Let the caramel cool. Divide mango and raspberry over the caramel in a regular pattern.
    • Beat butter and sugar together until smooth and pale. Add vanilla extract and grated lemon peel. Add eggs one by one, plus vanilla extract and salt. 
    • Add half of the sifted flour and gently mix in. Add the rest of the flour . Add enough milk for a smooth, spreadable batter. 
    • Spread carefully over the arranged fruit. 
    • Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes (slightly longer for 20 cm cake pan). Check after 30 minutes with a toothpick: if it comes out clean, the cake is done. If still wet, continue to bake and check every 10 minutes.
    • Let the cake cool for about 20 minutes, then turn over on a plate (careful, caramel is still hot)
    25 cm cake pan raspberry and mango medley upside down cake
    20 cm cake pan upside down mango cake

    • The Mangifera Indica is native to South Asia, where it was first cultivated over 4000 years ago. Legend tells that a mango grove was planted for the Buddha to find a shady place to rest. Fossil evidence found in India indicates that the mango tree already existed 25-30 million years ago.
    • Mango is a powerful antioxidant and an excellent source of Vitamins A, B, and C, minerals, and dietary fiber.
    • an extensive list of mango cultivars is found on Wikipedia (here)
    • Each year at the end of June, the International Mango Festival in Delhi is a 2-day festival where you can sample over 1100 mango varieties. 
    • Climbing the Mango Trees by Madhur Jaffrey is a memoir of storytelling and childhood memories of her family life growing up in India, with the common thread of food weaving through the book. I loved it.
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    1. Replies
      1. Wuv Drina? On your phone perchance? I agree with you on the Alphonso. So divine, so utterly delicious with their sweet, fragrant butter-soft flesh... yumm I have one in my kitchen calling me now!

    2. I started eating mangoes VERY LATE. I don't know how, but I used to detest their smell. When I moved to India, a colleague and very good friend was aghast that I didn't like their smell and had therefore not tasted them yet. She made me eat an alphonso, and there, it was a love at first bite. :) Love the ratatouille, must try it soon.

      You must try aam ras. Available at a lot of Indian restaurants in summer, it is a delectable puree of the fruit.

    3. Aam Ras it is! Will have it soon as I see it. Thanks for dropping by Miss Stovetop!

    4. Agree with Miss Stovetop. We have this thing called puran poli, a roti with a belly full of chickpea flour and jaggery paste, smeared with ghee (duh.) We dip the sweet tender bread right into mango pulp (aam ras)...SO, SO GOOD. I found the dish at Peshwa recently (blogged about it too), and then even better, my aunt made it at home last've got to try it!