Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Of Shakes and Mangoes.

Summer in India, and mangoes are two sides of the same coin. Can you envision one without the other? Summer brought with it initially the green tart unripe kairis- which would instantly be used up to make Aam kaPanna, ambi –pudina ki   chutney or ambiyari daal. As the sun ripened into a ferocious, blistering orange so did the mangoes. The tart turned to juicy, and the savory turned to sweet.  Rather than waste an over-ripe mango, you just made mango shake with lots of sugar in it.

Back again in my grand mother’s place, making a mango shake was a fairly communal event. The aam-wala was a maali from the neighboring orchard who loaded up his donkey with fruit that fell off the trees. Often he’d just plonk himself on somebody’s verandah asking for water to drink. Once the lady of the house came out, he’d expertly cajole the “bai” to taste his fruit.  A little sweet talk, a lot of haggling, and a deal was made.  Then he’d call out in a loud voice letting the neighbors know how this bai approved of his fruit, and what a deal he was giving her. More often than not, he’d attract several more customers. A few hours later, his donkey went home a load lighter...while the aamwala got loaded up :-)) 

Once the mangoes came home, the kids all got together. But first, the moms draw refreshingly chilled water out from deep inside a well. The kids' task was then to wash the mangoes and leave them soaking in cold water till evening. In a place where refrigerators worked for less than 2hrs a day, this was the commonly used way of cooling down the mangoes and keep them fresh. In between the washing and cooling, a few inevitably found place inside our ever-hungry tummies.

The evening saw all the women gathered around on one common "aangan". They each had a metal pot with a fine cheesecloth tied around the mouth. One by one, the mangoes were deftly swirled around between thumb and forefinger, then the stem part cut off. A quick inversion on the pot, and all the mango contents popped out of the skin onto the cheesecloth. Every once in a while, they would pick up the cheesecloth, bundle it up, and squeeze out all the fine pulp and juice into the pot. We kids swarmed around, for the leftover guthli (seed) were ours to suck till the very end....

Most summer evenings, dinner was a rolled-up crisp paratha, dipped in mango shake.

I still make mango shake...but the process doesn't sound as exciting as it did back then!

Mango shake

1 and 1/2 cups diced mango
1cup mango puree

2 cups milk
Sugar to taste

Run everything together through a blender till mixed together. Serve chilled and enjoy!

My two cents: My daughters still don't like mango shake...even though they love any other smoothie that we buy. Last time, I put a dollop of vanilla ice cream on top for them, and they devoured it! For me, a good, old fashioned milk and mango is sheer bliss on a hot summer day. Try dipping a paratha in it, if you haven't already for a taste of an authentic summer of my childhood....

Linked to: WTML hosted by Manju, started by Gayathri, Summer special Mela at Cooking for all seasons and Cook Yellow event at Merry tummy.