here’s no summer that passes in Goan homes when we don’t look up at mango trees, lush with the raw green fruit threatening to turn into the famed varieties of Monserrate, St Anton and Mankurates that we pluck and transport to the kitchen. There is a plan in mind. The popular Goan fish curry is now ready to receive its annual benediction of a tang, which is exactly what the raw mango does. The curry paste itself will undergo no change whatsoever, since it is sacrosanct, but to its repertoire there will be gorgeous slices of mangoes, with the juicy seed, floating in equal measure with prawns or shrimps. Or sometimes, like the diva that the mango is, all by itself. Here’s the recipe:
Tids sitting cross- legged in a line on the floor, bending forward whilst sucking on succulent mangoes with a dish underneath to prevent messing the clothes or the floor, entails my fondest childhood memories of summer vacations at nani’s house. Despite the precaution, the orange pulp almost always got smeared around our lips, and in my case, when I indulged in keri on rare occasions ( I wasn’t very fond of them), it would make its way to my legs, hair, and elbows, giving everyone reason for a good laugh, “You’ve made your whole body eat!” On seeing my lack of enthusiasm when the carton of mangoes would arrive at home and make everyone’s faces light up, my grandfather would tell me, “You’re really not a Bhula. How can you not like mangoes?” But what I looked forward to— and still do— like the rest of the family, was ras nu jamanwar ( a special meal that complements aam ras) at our house, and once in the season at nani’s as well. Hours of joyous yet laborious cooking go into preparing ras ( made of Pairi keri sans milk or any additions; alphonsos are only eaten cut or in milkshakes), puris or bapdi rotli ( a double roti that is opened once it balloons fully, resulting into two thin, almost translucent ones), gunda nu shak ( fragrant manjack with stuffing of gram flour, jaggery and masalas), fajeto ( mango and curd curry) and rice. Nani’s house would also have tindola- parval nu shaak ( ivy gourd and pointed gourd sabzi with masalas and grated coconut) and for farsan, the famous dhokla ( hers are with rava, not rice). Gujaratis have ras in many ways: plain, iced, with rice ( in place of dal) or like I love it during these meals, breaking a rotli, taking some gunda and lots of the extra stuffing, dipping it into ras ( instead of fajeto, as most do) and enjoying the divine melange of flavours. My favourite is ras- dhokla as dinner during the mango season. Here’s how you have it: dip hot dhoklas into the accompanying spicy coriander chutney, then in ras and wolf them down. This season is also the one time when my sister, famous for avoiding dinner at home, checks the refrigerator daily for a bowl, or many, of doodh- keri ( milk mixed with hand- mashed mango pulp and floating cubes of alphonso mangoes). Irresistible!