If you live where mangoes are grown, in our case North Queensland, and don’t like them, then you are being ripped off. It is only when the smell of ripening mangoes fills my kitchen that I know Christmas is really here.
Locally, most people eat Bowen Mangoes as the mango of choice. That is because they cut easily, whereas Common mangoes do not co-operate with a knife that well. Traditionally everyone had a Common mango tree in their back yard. Common mangoes have a lovely flavour, but the stringy flesh does get stuck between your teeth.
Common mangoes are my mango of choice for the making of my Famous Mango Chutney (see below for recipe). The chutney is made with green (unripe) mangoes, so the strings that are present in a ripe mango have not formed. You can slice the mango easily when it is at this stage, although after you have peeled and chopped 48 of them your fingers do get coated with the sap.
The trick with mango chutney is to let it sit in the bottle for at least two weeks before eating. The longer you leave it, the nicer it tastes. I have eaten it up to two years old (when I found a bottle in the back of the cupboard), and it was fine. I usually eat it with curries – my favourite food.
In my childhood we wore old clothes (the stains can be stubborn) when eating common mangoes in our garden. These we peeled by hand and devoured, with the juice streaming down our arms and dripping from our faces. When we were finished, faces and hands were washed under the garden tap. If our clothes were too saturated we changed our clothes as well. I have known other mothers who let the kids sit naked in the bathtub while they eat the mangoes, then just turn on the shower to wash it off!
Today the Bowen mango makes it all so easy. My favourite way of presenting and eating them is to cut a cheek from each side, then criss-cross cut them into a square pattern, not piercing the skin, then turn them inside out. They look great on a platter for Christmas morning breakfast, if there are any left by then that is.
Townsville is becoming multi-cultural with largish populations of Asian residents, mainly from Thailand and the Phillipines. They, together with our New Guinean neighbours have introduced us to new varieties of mango. The ones I have purchased at the local markets, which I think are Nam Doc Mai, are sweet, but to my taste, do not have the depth of flavour that Bowen’s have. The Thai ladies who sell them at the market think they are far superior to Bowen mangoes. I guess it depends on where you spent your childhood. I do however find the Nam Doc Mai, to be great in mango salsa (recipe below).
It just so happens that I have some chilled mango, sliced and waiting for me in the fridge, so what am I doing here talking about mangoes when I can be eating them!
JAN’S FAMOUS MANGO CHUTNEY
10 large green (unripe) mangoes, chop finely
1 kg (2 lbs.) light brown soft sugar
140g (¼ lb.) dates, chopped
140g (¼ lb.) preserved ginger (I use crystallized ginger) – choose a gluten free one if req’d
140g (¼ lb.) Sultanas, chopped
6 Chillies, chopped
30 g (1 oz.) garlic, minced
1 tblsp. Salt
750 ml of white vinegar (don’t use malt vinegar if making it gluten free)
Peel and chop mangoes, salt, and cover with water overnight. Strain and wash. Boil all ingredients, except sugar until tender. Add sugar, and simmer another 2 hours. Pour into sterilized bottles and seal.
Combine – 3 sliced Mangoes, 2 chopped Tomatoes, 2 finely chopped Shallots including the green ends, torn fresh Basil and torn fresh Mint to taste, Balsamic Vinegar, Serve immediately.