This silky mango curry is a delicious memory of growing up in India’s sultry summers.
Each year, when May rolls around, Indian markets are overwhelmed with a flood of mangoes, lovingly referred to here as the “king of fruits”. Mountains of mangoes in every shape and size add brilliant orange color to an already colorful mileu and their heady fragrance hangs thick in the air. No matter how much of this delicious fruit you eat, it seems you can never have enough.
But mangoes are not just eaten as a fruit in India. Raw mangoes are pickled or curried and ripe mangoes are often cooked up into sweet — and more rarely savory– dishes. It’s one such savory dish I have for you today: a mango curry that goes, in my native tongue Konkani, by the name “Ambya Sasam.”
My mom would cook up Ambya Sasam several times each summer, and we couldn’t wait to devour it. She would always use a certain kind of mango, round, with a softer flesh than your average mango, for this curry. I made it with champagne mangoes, which are often the only kind I can find here in the United States, but it was still delicious.
You do want a really sweet mango for this dish– don’t get tempted into throwing in a half-ripe fruit. It’s the chemistry of the sweet mango with the spices that makes this curry so special.
I followed Meera’s recipe — which is very authentic and looks amazing (head over to her blog, Enjoy Indian Food, to take a look) –to make this curry, but I made some small changes. My mom would put in the whole, peeled mango, seed and all, and we would have a great time slurping the flesh off the seed as we ate the curry. Since not everyone wants to do that — I knew Desi wouldn’t, the little snob– I removed the seed. I also used coconut milk instead of fresh coconut to add a little more sophistication (and make my life easier).
Here’s the recipe, then, and trust me, it’s fabulous. Better still, it comes together in no more than 20 minutes which, in my book, makes it an all-round winner. Serve it up with some bitter gourd subzi and rice for a delightful dance of flavors. Thanks, Meera.
- 3 ripe champagne mangoes. Make two clean cuts on either side of the seed. Make criss-cross cuts in each slice of mango, the way you would to dice an avocado, and slide them off the skin with the help of a spoon, again just like you would an avocado.
- 1 cup canned coconut milk (the thick part). If you're using fresh coconut milk, use two cups of the first extraction and skip adding any water.
- 2 dry red chillies, like arbol or Kashmiri chillies.
- 1½ tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- A generous pinch of asafetida or hing (optional)
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- 1 sprig of curry leaves
- 2 tsp grated jaggery or sugar
- Grind together the coconut milk, ½ cup of the mango flesh, chillies and ½ tsp mustard seeds. Set aside.
- Heat the oil and add the remaining mustard seeds. When they sputter, add the curry leaves, turmeric and asafetida, if using.
- Add the mangoes and the ground coconut milk paste. Add a cup of water and stir the jaggery or sugar. Add salt to taste.
- Heat through until the coconut milk barely simmers. Turn off the heat and serve hot or warm with rice.