The mango, often called ‘The King of Fruits,’ is the national fruit of Pakistan and India and has a long history of cultural significance in the region. The arrival of mangoes marks the start of summer and traditionally a gift of mangoes is auspicious, the sharing of a good harvest is the sharing of your own good fortune.
The fruit has religious importance dating back to when it was said Buddha rested and meditated in the tranquillity of lush mango groves, and Lord Ganesha is often depicted holding a ripe mango as a symbol of attainment. In Hindu mythology, love arrives with the blossoming of the mango tree and Kama, the god of love, tips his arrow with five flowers, one of them the mango blossom.
Mangoes supposedly delighted the invading Alexander The Great in 326 BC and one of the most celebrated Mughal emperors, Akbar, is said to have planted a mango orchard of over 100,000 trees in the 1500s. In the 60s, a gift of mangoes from Pakistan’s foreign minister to Chairman Mao, triggered an 18 month hysteria for the fruit in China, making the mango into an object of deep veneration (when actually Chairman Mao didn’t care for the taste of mangoes and had simply regifted them).
In 1988, General Zia, president of Pakistan, boarded a plane with a number of senior army generals, and shortly before take-off, crates of mangoes were loaded on the plane. The plane ultimately crashed, killing everyone on board and resulting in conspiracy theories. One holds that a mango crate contained a canister of nerve gas which killed both pilots, a theory explored in the fictionalised novel based on this event, “A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif.”
These days mangoes don’t hold quite the same scared qualities that they once did but are a seasonal highlight of the summer months. While nothing beats a perfectly ripe mango, a glut of the fruit does well used in smoothies, lassis or try our recipe for Mango Flambé.
Alphonso Mango Flambé
What you’ll need:
-Vanilla gelato (or some delicious frozen yoghurt)
-Oven or toaster oven
-Small baking tray
Salted Coconut Crumble
2 Tbsp Softened butter
2 Tbsp Granulated sugar
2 Tbsp Desiccated coconut
2 Tbsp All-purpose flour
½ tsp Salt
Pre-heat oven to 150’c
Place the softened butter and sugar into the mixing bowl and stir them together using the spatula until the butter turns a pale yellow colour. Add in the coconut, flour and salt and mix together, leaving clumps and chunks, being sure not to over mix. Toss the crumble over the sheet tray lined with parchment paper and place in the oven.
Bake the crumble for 5 –10 minutes. You’re looking for a change in colour and the texture to look dryer than when you started. Let the crumble cool down while you make the mango flambé.
2 Alphonzo mangos
¼ C Brown sugar
¼ C Spiced rum
Peel and cut the mangos to 2cm thick cubes and set aside. Place the skillet on medium high heat and wait for the pan to reach the temperature. Toss the cut mangos into the hot pan and wait for one side to get coloured. Toss the mangos and sprinkle the brown sugar over top. Wait until the sugar starts to dissolve. Go ahead and add in the tablespoon of butter and stir the mangos around the pan, making sure not to squish any of the cubes. Once the butter has melted fully and you’ve created a soft caramel in the pan add the ¼ c of Spiced rum, using your lighter, set fire to the pan and turn the heat off. Be careful when doing this, stand back and move quickly with the lighter. Take caution.
Let the alcohol fully burn off, toss the mango pieces through the sauce make sure everything come to beautiful sauce.
Go ahead and take out two bowls and scoop in your favourite gelato or frozen yoghurt. Try and pick something without too complicated of a flavour. You want to be able to taste these delicious mangos. Spoon over the hot mango flambé and top up with the coconut crumble. Serve immediately and enjoy!