Farm to door: guide to get mangoes cheap and haggle-free
There seems to be only one disadvantage to ordering mangoes online. With a five kilo minimum order across the board — you may end up with more mangoes than you handle. Then again, with ‘semi ripened’ fruit being the norm for a more robust carrier option — working your way through that crate can be done at a leisurely pace. So save yourself the bane of haggling over your next Alphonso. With farm to doorstep options like Malnad Mangoes and Farmers Direct India promising customers chemical-free fruit for prices of high-end varieties as low as Rs 80 a kilo, we say skip the haggle lines this season.
From Salem to Shimoga, all the way up to the palace grounds of Mahmudabad — mango orchards abound. That means access to varieties that aren’t as commonly sold with commercial vendors like the Imam Pasand and Jawari. Melbourne-returned Lokesh Pamalapadi, the newest entrant in the business, who started deliveries as recently as two weeks ago, says the orders are pouring in, primarily via WhatsApp and email. The back end you can be assured, will not be as sophisticated as e-commerce majors, but the perks here are a one-on-one connection with an urban farmer with tips and tricks of the trade. “Not to mention, you can customise your mango basket to include all of your favourites,” he adds.
While there is a shortage this year due to the drought, which horticulturists reportedly say has reduced both the sweetness and the size of the fruit this year, urban farmers assure us that the yield, although substantially reduced, is still high on quality. “In fact, I would say our flavours this year are even better, because the effects of the drought has meant smaller fruit, not just lower numbers,” lets on Mamun Raheel of Malnad Mangoes, a former pharma professional based out of Muscat. However, just like the prices at this Shimoga-based outfit are not based on market value and instead charted to cover cultivation and labour costs, Mamun emphasises, “The harvest is never rushed to meet demand, and so is sweet and delicious.”
Of course, given that the final ripening happens in homes, perhaps a little patience is that extra price you pay for quality fruit, over a quick buy off the street.
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Folks in Delhi now have access to the king of fruits, in true palatial style. The mango orchards of the Mahmudabad Estate whichopened up just last year offer produce delivered in a hand woven bamboo basket and wrapped in shaalbaaf (red cloth with gold edges) which is how food or fruit was traditionally gifted way back when. Ali Khan Mahmudabad, one of the two princes that hails from the royal family says, “Some mango varieties we have are as old as 140 years.” He rattles off lesser known names like Sindooria (named after a woman’s sindoor, it is a green mango with a streak of red), bataasha (as small as bataasha), nimbua (grafted with a lemon tree, Amir Pasan (named after
an ancestor) and Husna (beautiful, red and yellow mango). “All of these are tukhmi mangoes which
means you don’t eat them but drink their juice,” adds the Prince, who floors us with his extensive knowledge of the fruit.