Magnificent mango

Come summer and the mango feast begins. In the sweltering heat, there is one redeeming feature - the mango. There is no fruit more luscious and mouthwatering. Even the most finicky eaters love it. DH file photo

Come summer and the mango feast begins. In the sweltering heat, there is one redeeming feature - the mango. There is no fruit more luscious and mouthwatering. Even the most finicky eaters love it.

There is nothing like eating a juicy and succulent mango after being out in the scorching heat. My nephew says “no” to everything except mango. He sits on the dining table sucking a mango, juice trickling down his mouth. He loves the mango shake that my sister whips up in minutes. His fondness for mango reminds me of our childhood days when we would all sit in our vests and have a competition as to who would have the maximum number of mangoes fastest.

My parents hail from Hoshiarpur district, known as the mango basket of Punjab. My mother often narrates how her grandfather owned mango orchards there. Every summer, her grandmother would make mango pickle and courier it through the railways to them at Bhilwara in Rajasthan, where her father was working as a doctor.

Her father had such a weakness for the pickle that once when the pickle was lost in its way, believe it or not, he sued the railways and was even reimbursed for the same. She remembers how mangoes would be brought in bullock-carts to her grandfather’s house. The mangoes would be dipped in cold water in huge tubs in the courtyard. The entire household would swarm around the tubs and dig into them for the softest and the juiciest mangoes. After having their fill, they would drink “kachi lassi.” After lunching on mangoes, they would retire to their rooms to sleep. Such tales would have us children breaking into peals of laughter.

My father’s hometown was 20 km from my mother’s. The town was sandwiched by mango orchards.

My father recollects how there used to be mangoes of different varieties and sizes all around. He becomes nostalgic remembering the good old days. Mangoes would come in different flavours, such as saunf, saffron, orange and what not. The saunfi mango would be crisp like an almond. It had a unique flavour. Then there used to be a mango jumbo in size that used to weigh one to two kg. This variety of mango tree was not very tall and its leaves would kiss the ground. One could very easily reach out and pluck the fruit.

With population increasing, the mango orchards have disappeared. As a result of which, the indigenous varieties of mangoes have become extinct. We now have early fruit-bearing and high-yielding varieties.

Nevertheless, mango rules the hearts of all — men, women or children. It is, after all, the king of fruit.

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Magnificent mango

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