We can thank India and Southeast Asia for providing the rest of the world with the sweet goodness of mangoes. This delicious fruit has an impressive history, with a lineage going back to between the 4th and 5th century BC. While the mango has certainly traveled to other tropical nations since then, India still lays claim to producing almost half of the world’s mangoes.
If you have never tried a fresh mango before, now is the time to cut into this juicy fruit. Mangoes are jam-packed full of vitamins A and C. They are a great source of dietary fiber. Mangoes also contain vitamin B6, vitamin K, potassium, copper, beta-carotene, lutein and other amino acids. Their powerful anti-oxidant properties have also been hailed as offering potential protection against several kinds of cancer, including colon and breast cancers.
While a beautiful red mango might call to you from the display, the best way to pick a mango is not by the color. In actual fact, the color of a mango has little to do with its taste. The best way to pick a mango is better gauged by a squeeze test. A firm mango is less ripe, hence good to pick if you will be using it in a few days time. If you want to cut into it immediately, pick a mango that has a soft give to it when squeezed. They also have a fruity smell that gives them away when they are ripe for the picking.
If your mango is not quite ripe, you will want to store it at room temperature. To speed up the process, you can put a mango in a paper bag, which hastens its ripening, similar to avocados and peaches. When it is slightly soft to the touch, you can transfer it to the fridge where it will keep for up to five days.
How to cut a mango is where this fruit sets itself apart. Mangoes have a large pit in the middle of them. That means that you cannot neatly slice it in half like an apple, then divide it into smaller sections. The best way to cut a mango is to slice it length-wise about a third of the way across. Cut as close to the fibrous pit as you can, then repeat on the other side. You will then have two sections of mango and the large pit that can be disposed of. You can slice these sections with parallel lines, then scoop them out of the hull. If you are interested in cubes, as seen in the picture above, then cut parallel lines in the mango, turn it and cut more parallel lines creating a checkerboard pattern. When you are completed, gently turn your mango inside out and you will easily be able to cut the cubes off the skin.
Mangoes are best enjoyed raw, eaten as a delicious addition to any diet. If you are interested in other ways to enjoy them though, don’t fret. Mangoes are wonderful pureed for juices, smoothies, ices and sauces. Unripe mangoes are ideal for pickling. They can be cut into cubes for kebabs, chutneys, curries or added to any number of other desserts, appetizers or entrées. Some people even slice them into sandwiches or barbecue them on the grille! Your imagination is the only thing holding you back.
4 pounds fresh mangos, ripe but not too soft, peeled
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon chile flakes
2 1/2 cups medium dice red onion
1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
1 cup small dice red bell pepper
8 ounces unsweetened pineapple juice
4 ounces cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
Kosher salt and fresh ground white pepper
1/2 cup raisins or golden raisins
1/2 cup toasted, roughly chopped macadamia nuts
Cut the mango flesh away from the pit. The pit is shaped similar to an obelisk, so you’ll end up with 2 large pieces and 2 smaller pieces from each mango. Roughly chop the flesh.
In a saute pan heat the oil and add the chile flakes. Be careful not to burn the chile, just toast to flavor the oil. Add the onions and sweat until soft. Add the ginger and bell pepper and saute for 1 to 2 minutes. Finally add the mango and cook for 1 more minute.
In a separate bowl, combine the pineapple juice, vinegar, sugar, and curry powder. Add this mixture to the pan. Stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a bare simmer and reduce for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper. Add the raisins and the nuts and transfer to another container over an ice bath. I used a mild yellow curry powder, but if you want it hotter go for red.
1 cup milk
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1 cup ice cubes
Peel mangoes and cut into cubes; place in blender. Peel banana and break into chunks; add to blender. Add milk, yogurt and ice; puree until smooth.
Tropical Mango Parfaits
Puree one mango
Spoon equal amounts into 6 clear plastic cups
Top each with 1/4 cup yogurt
Spoon cubed mango over the top
Save a few pieces for garnish
Add the remaining 1/4 cup yogurt and reserved mango
*Recipe may be made ahead at this point
*Just cover and refrigerate until ready to serve
Just before serving, top with a tablespoon of granola