Summers are here with their blistering cruelty and endless lethargic days. Yawning in the heat, food is really the last thing on anyone's mind. Unless it is a long sip of icy coldness. Sharbats, curds and salads rule the day. And of course, the king of fruits, the sweet sweet mango! Summers are practically synonymous with mangoes. The popularity of this royal fruit transcends all boundaries, and paens have been written in its praise!
I remember summers in my uncle's orchards where the ripe mangoes had been tossed into the well to cool. Anytime we needed a mango fix all we had to do was lower the bucket and draw up some juicy goodness. Most households in India had a designated bucket in the corner of their kitchen. Filled with cool water and luscious golden mangoes. A friend of mine narrated an interesting custom at grandparents' place in Himachal. Once the mango season started, the kids would go visit, but would only be allowed once they had finished their allotted mini buckets of mango!
Each household has mango based recipes they guard with the preciousness of jewels. Pickles, salads, jams, chutneys... all find a place in their repertoire. Now the best part of army life is that not only do we traverse diverse regions, but also form close bonds that last a lifetime. Over the years mum has amassed a treasure trove of traditional recipes via her fauji family.
One of mum's closest friends is Bhavani Aunty. She is one of the sweetest, most wonderful human being we've had the joy of calling our own. Not only is aunty a fabulous cook, but also an immensely creative one. She has the talent of spinning the most mundane into something exotic and drool worthy! And when mum tasted the Ripe Mango Raita at her place, she knew it was a recipe she would recreate time and again.
The traditional raita is made either with salad veggies like tomatoes and cucumber or with crispy fried gram flour boondi. But aunty's mango version was unusual and delicious! And really, what could be more summery than chilled curds swirled with chunks of sensational mangoes!
Curds 500 ml
Water 150 ml
Mangoes 2, medium
Onion 1, small
Green chillies 3
tempering: Mustard seeds 1 teaspoon
Curry leaves 3 sprigs
Red chilli powder 1/2 teaspoon
Oil 1 teaspoon
Whisk together the curds and water till smooth. Add salt to taste. Finely chop the onion and green chillies. Mix into the whisked curds. Cube the mangoes and gently toss into the mix. Prepare the tempering by heating the oil and letting the mustard seeds splutter. Throw in the curry leaves and let them crisp. Turn off the gas and add the red chilli powder, Swirl the tempering over the prepared raita and chill in the refrigerator for a while. Serve as a side with pulao or biryani. And to be honest, it tastes fabulous on its own!