As soon as the pre-monsoon showers hit the parched soils of Kodagu, the wilted greens flourish and prepare to end their gestation period. The mango blossoms bloom and the scent of ripened jackfruit is very much evident in the air. Along with being the time for the fungus to peak its head from the cracks, it’s also the time of wild mangoes. The wild mangoes play an important part in the seasonal Coorg cuisine, and I might just add that they are rare delicacies that people enjoy. If you have a wild mango in your estate then you are lucky. If no, why bother? Simply set out early in the morning to the nearest tree to pick the sweet and sour goodies from god knows whose land.
The wild mangoes unlike the regular ones are small, have very little flesh, and are seldom sweet. Therefore, they are usually used to make curries or chutneys. If you happen to tumble across one and want to taste it, make sure to remove the stalk of the mango and squeeze out some latex or juice from it. If consumed directly may lead to a fever. The ones with black spots are completely fine, just that they are a bit old but can be used nevertheless. The age can also be told by seeing the stalk of the mango, the more it’s dry, the older it is.
Now that you’ve collected your wild mangoes, let’s head home and peel them naked! They can always be pickled in a brine solution with the skin and may last from 6 months to a year depending on how you store it. You can always use the pickled ones to make your curry throughout the rainy season.
Wild mangoes, vegetable oil, garlic, curry leaves, chili powder, salt, turmeric powder, jaggery, toasted cumin powder and water.
- Prepare your wild mangoes by pinching out the stalk, washing them and peeling them.
- Heat your vegetable oil in a kadai or vessel and add in the crushed garlic with the peals. (The garlic with the peal releases more flavour.) This recipe demands a higher quantity of garlic and curry leaves than usually used.
- Throw in the curry leaves.
- Remove the kadai from the heat and add chili powder. This will make sure that the oil does not burn.
- Place the kadai back in the heat and add water, the quantity depending on the number of wild mangoes.
- Add a pinch of turmeric and stir in some salt to taste.
- Let it simmer and then add the jaggery, the quantity depending on how sour the mangoes are. Stir it in and let it melt.
- Add the peeled wild mangoes and let it cook for 10-15 mins.
- Add in a tablespoon of toasted cumin powder when the curry is boiling.
- Let it cook for 5 more minutes.
- The wild mango curry is ready to serve with some hot rice.
This curry can be stored for more than a week if carefully heated and stored. If you’ve run out of the curry then you can always run to the stack of salted mangoes and cook them. Enjoy!
P.S: If you are wondering of what the bananas are doing beside the fireplace, the elders say that eating fruits freshly hit by the rain can lead to fever and cold. Therefore, they are always dried out and then eaten. Trust me, they get sweeter!