Is it that time of the year, already? Talk about March madness.. means different things to different people..isn’t it?
March brings in the onset of spring, a thing of beauty and joy forever… It is also the time when the Indian Summer bears fruit. Not something ordinary, but the king of fruits – the one and only Mango. And this is exactly the time of the year, I want to be nowhere else, than in India and my hometown Bengalooru (and Mysore), to gorge on these luscious juicy beauties by the basket full. Well, at least I wish!
When I am just left with wishing, I run to the nearest Sam’s and buy a box full of Ataulfo mangoes, fill them in a brown bag, put them in the darkest corner of the laundry room and wait for them to ripen. After a couple of days when they’re ready, I ‘try’ to satiate my mango cravings with these fully ripe, not so flavorful, not as juicy and not quite sweet ‘mango look a likes’ of Indian mangoes…
Eating a mango is more than just delicious, it is pure fun – licking the juice running down the palm or squishing the pulp off the seed to leave no trace of the fruit on it are some of the few times when messy is good! And that is how I always love to eat them..
But, once in a while, when I need a little extra with minimal sophistication, I love this simple Seekarane desert recipe. This is as close a desert can get to real fruit. This recipe needs no selling. The ingredients do all the talking for themselves.
Seekarane or Rasayana is a traditional dessert prepared by squeezing ripe mangoes to pulp, may be due to the lack of mixer/grinders in that era. Even with the latest kitchen gadgets today, I wouldn’t change a thing about how it is made. That’s just me, I guess!
Oh, I almost forgot to tell you, Maavina Hannu is Mango in Kannada btw..
So, what is your favorite mango dessert?
- 4 small-medium ripe mangoes preferably juicy
- 3/4 cup freshly grated coconut
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 small cubes or abt 4 tbsp grated jaggery preferably dark variety
- 4-5 cardamom pods
For the mango pulp:
This part can be a little messy, but it is all worth it. Traditionally, most of this is done by squishing the mango to a pulp, by hand. We'll get some help from the grater though.
Wash the mangoes well and pat dry. Slice off the top at the stalk. Cut off the cheeks on either sides of the mango first. Remove the skin off the seed. Using the grater, grate the fruit off the seed or just squish the seed with your hand until all the fruit is off the seed. I prefer doing this way as there is minimum wastage of fruit.
Halve the cheeks or quarter them with the skin intact, depending on your convenience for grating. Grate the fruit to get all the pulp out of the skin. Do not hesitate to get any remaining fruit either with a spoon or your trusty fingers. Repeat with all the mangoes. Once all the pulp is extracted, give it a nice stir or squish to get a uniform consistency. Taste the mangoes for sweetness.
For the coconut milk:
Blend the freshly grated with a little water to a smooth paste. Add the remaining water to this, stir to mix well and strain the coconut milk. If using frozen coconut, thaw first and use warm water for blending so that the fat does not separate. Refrigerate the remaining strained coconut to be used later in cooking.
Mix Coconut milk with the mango pulp. Grate jaggery into this, less or more depending on the sweetness of the mangoes.
In a mortar, smash the cardamom pods with the pestle and pry the seeds out with your fingers. Save the skin for later for flavoring tea or water. Smash the cardamom seeds first and crush them back and forth with the pestle for a fine powder. Sprinkle generously, not too much though.
Give it a good stir and serve as soon as possible. Tastes best when fresh. This dessert gets ready in a jiffy. Explaining how to do seems more tedious than the actual doing.
Jaggery can be substituted by brown sugar, but the depth and flavor of Jaggery cannot be. Other mexican unrefined sugars like Pillonchillo or Succanat may come a tad closer than sugar.
Jaggery is available in Indian stores. Always look for unbleached Jaggery
Freshly grated coconut works best, if not, thawed, frozen coconut works just fine if you are not too particular.
Fresh coconut milk is the star of this recipe. If you would rather save yourself the trouble of making it from scratch (which isn't too difficult), you could use canned coconut milk. I won't promise great results.
Milk can be substituted for coconut milk and this variation comes out well too.
Raspuri mangoes are best suited for this recipe. In its absence, Alphonso works well. I've used Mexican Ataulfo mangoes (that's the best I can get here) and they are fully ripe when wrinkled and golden yellow.
If you'd rather not get your hands messy, you could blend the cut up mango pieces instead. Blending makes a juice out of the pulp though and doesn't quite result in a hand squished consistency.