Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Long Overdue Mango Post

According to Mr Bittman, the recession has yet to boost home cooking but I can tell you that we are tightening our belts around here and visiting restaurants much less often. Which means it's up to me to keep us supplied with good food. I've been hitting lots of U-pick fields, farmers markets and farm stands looking for both inspiration and bargains and storing up lots of summer bounty for the dark days of winter. When I recently came across a great deal on some fine looking mangoes, I snapped them up without much of a plan. Only later did it occur to me to try and make a simple version of mango kulfi, the delicious Indian ice cream that's so lovely and refreshing on a hot day.
I knew that, like so many tasty Indian desserts, reduced milk was key. Also I knew there was no way I was going to stand over the stove to carefully cook down milk on (yet another) very hot day. I had on hand a can of evaporated milk purchased for possibly making fudge frosting for a cake but the birthday boy opted for mocha buttercream instead, which was fortuitous.

No printable recipe today, folks, as this is super easy. I won't pretend that it's authentic, but it worked for us. Empty a 12 ounce can of evaporated milk into the blender along with 3 large peeled mangoes cut into chunks, 1/3 cup of sugar, maybe half a teaspoon of rose water, and the crushed seeds from 5 or 6 cardamom pods. Whiz until smooth, and chill. When good and cold, transfer to an ice cream maker, and proceed as usual.

Now let's talk mangoes for just a moment. I had never eaten a mango in my life until I lived in Mexico in my early 20's. At one point during our stay in Cuernavaca, we suddenly noticed that the roadsides were littered in flat, hairy things. I thought they were some sort of weird Mexican lemming following an ancient signal to march to their death. Then I learned mango season had begun and everyone was gorging on this loveliest of fruit, often cut to look like a flower, impaled on a stick, and sprinkled with lime juice and chile. My first mango was a tentative, sticky, messy experience, but in no time I was in love. Mangoes are one of my very favorite fruits to this day, though I find it's not always easy to get good ones. I have much better luck in smaller ethnic markets than I do in our local natural food emporiums. Pop into any Vietnamese market and you are likely to find a box of mangoes at a very good price.

But what kind of mango? I've always been partial to the smaller yellow mangoes known as ataulfo, champagne, or Manila for eating fresh. I like their buttery texture and almost complete lack of hairy fiber. I tend to have good luck with finding nice ripe ones. I have more trouble catching the larger mangoes when they are best so I normally don't bother, but these Kent mangoes were selling for an unbeateable price so I am glad I took my chances. They were bursting with flavor and perfect for the kulfi I made. If you want to use the smaller yellow mangoes, use 5 or 6 for a batch of kulfi.
I am so tickled with this recipe. I am not sure how it differs from the real thing, but it works for me. I hope you'll give it a try. Of course it's a lovely way to end an Indian meal but I could eat it pretty much anytime.
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1 comment:

Chris said...

I always wonder when tropical fruits are naturally in season. I have had more than my share of unripe or overripe mangoes, though like you, I have good luck with those small champagne mangoes at the Lily Market.