Mango soil for dessert? Here is our aamras-inspired bucket list for the season
Five-star kitchens are reaping curious inventions with the humble mango.
There are some words you just wouldn’t associate with a mango. Like ‘soil’ for instance or an ‘egg’. But chefs around Chennai seem to be pushing their boundaries every year — upping the ante on their creative license with the King of Fruits. Now you can sample edible earth made from the pulp of Alphonsos, which takes as long as eight hours to prepare, and pairings of aamras (both ripe and raw) with unlikely collaborators like ladies finger and boondhi. So don’t let the shortage in supply this season turn your mood sour. If anything, just turn the other cheek!
Mango soil for your pot?
Ever had a waiter say to you, ‘Care for some mango soil sir?’ The chefs at the InterContinental Chennai Mahabalipuram Resort have innovated a whole new medium of ‘edible earth’ — that takes an arduous eight hours to prepare. “We thinly slice Alphonso mangoes and dehydrate them at 40 degrees Celsius for four hours. Then blow over it with hot air. Once done, we repeat the process and dehydrate it in the oven all over again,” says Chef Abhishek Kashyap. Served along with a berry sorbet as part of their Alphonso parfait (Rs 395), this is one of the highlights among a list of 20-odd mango creations. Don’t miss their Aam aur Chukander ke Kurkure (rumani mango, pickle and cheese-centred crispy fried beetroot with crushed peanuts and green mango chutney, Rs 495) and Amchur Bhindi (dehydrated mango and ladies finger, Rs 425) either. At The Melting Pot: Market Café.
Do you see what I sea?
Bay prawns and mango chunks? This contemporary South-Indian style salad sounds like a first — but intrigues us plenty. Chef Shankar Padmanabhan, who heads Southern Spice, tells us it’s a fairly simple recipe with a “combination of ripe and raw mango cubes, lightly tossed medium-sized prawns and red chillies and mustard tempered in oil”. If you like salty and sweet, definitely give this one a try! At The Taj Coromandel, Rs 800 plus taxes.There are some words you just wouldn’t associate with a mango. Like ‘soil’ for instance or an ‘egg’. But chefs around Chennai seem to be pushing their boundaries every year — upping the ante on their creative license with the King of Fruits. Now you can sample edible earth made from the pulp of Alphonsos, which takes as long as eight hours to prepare, and pairings of aamras (both ripe and raw) with unlikely collaborators like ladies finger and boondhi. So don’t let the shortage in supply this season turn your mood sour. If anything, just turn the other cheek!
The yellow vodka
With mangoes not as ripe and sweet as usual, Leela Palace’s Library Blu has chosen to run with it and
incorporate a hint of sour in their all-new cocktail menu. Look out for their recently introduced Frozen Kayree Panha—vodka blended with fresh raw mango, honey, black pepper and roasted cumin, served with a whiff of sweet fennel salt and fresh mint. Shall we clink already? Rs 850 (inclusive of tax).
Making of a nest
Finally, an egg for vegetarians. Believe it or not — the nest is edible as well! A Fennel panna cotta set with coconut milk, the centre is a mushy purée of fresh mango — surrounded by angel hair ‘straw’ woven from pulled sugar. The dessert is a much-talked-about favourite as a part of the Avartana set menu at ITC Grand Chola, and is also available on request. But if you’re making a quick stopover at the hotel, pick up the readily available Maharaja cake — layered with fresh mango mouse, coriander jelly and coconut dacquoise. Available in 1 kg as well as an entremet. At Nutmeg, Rs 2,000 inclusive of tax.
Not pulp fiction
If you’re craving a little sweet and a little crunch — sample this. Aamras Boondhi is one of the 10-odd offerings as part of the Khandani Rajdhani mango festival through this month and Maharaj Jodharam Choudhary, the Corporate Chef, tells us that it is fresh, healthy and entirely decadent, with no additives or flavouring. “We use the pulp of ripe mangoes and green cardamom powder, which helps enhance the flavour.” This is apart from adding in the much-loved snack, boondhi (refined flour dropped in hot oil, soaked in sugar syrup for two minutes and strained). What takes us by surprise is just how simple this dish is to create. Other highlights on the menu are Hapus Jalebi, Aamchuri Gunda Ki Subzi and Aam Khasta Kachori. Rs 515 for the whole thali with individual dishes on request. On till May 31.
Where to get your mangoes, farm fresh:
Take your pluck
Honeydew Gardens in Arakkonam was founded by C Ramkumar and his son Aditya, both professional auditors, who started the farm out of pure passion. They grow Alphonso, Banganapalli and Imam Pasand varieties and ripen them, carbide-free, through a natural process called cold storage fermentation, which usually takes three to four days. They deliver across the city (delivery charges applicable beyond a 10 km radius) within 90 minutes from the time of the order. Prices from Rs 299 for a box of six. Delivery done by Genie. Details: 4910-1010.
Packed from Pondy
C Ramakrishna’s farm in Puducherry is always a good bet if you are in search of good quality mangoes. He has a store in Kilpauk that is open from 9 am to 9 pm and stocks an impressive range of varieties besides the usual suspects like Alphonso and Imam Pasand. We are keen to try their Goa Mankur and Kesar mangoes, even as they are expecting a fresh stock of Vanraj. Prices from around Rs 60 per kilo. Details: 94447-96288.
If you have your eyes set on farms outside of Chennai, there are a couple in Mumbai and Bengaluru, respectively. Anil Karale’s shop in Mumbai’s Crawford Market has regular customers from across the country, including bigwigs from the Indian cinema industry and national cricketing fraternity. In Bengaluru, place orders for the hybrid Mallika variety, sold at Malnad mangoes. Details: 022 2343-5196; 94817-76280.
(Inputs from Karan Pillai)