In India, the mango is the undisputed king of fruit. Yes, it’s actually called the king of fruit, and for the few weeks that it puts in an appearance each year in Indian markets, its glorious, golden, juicy sweetness unparalleled by any other fruit compensates for the harsh, acrid summers that make you feel like you’re going to melt and stick to the tar pavement.
In our home, even as the snow falls softly outside and we bundle up in sweaters and socks, there is always room in our tummies for some mango. Since fresh is not an option right now, we are more than happy to make do with the canned variety that I buy from the Indian grocer. The canned mango is made from alphonso mangoes, the king among the king of fruits, and while nothing can beat the deliciousness of an alphonso eaten fresh, juice running down your arm, the canned puree is not so bad and finds its way into many of our family favorites, including mango cupcakes, mango bread, and this mango cashew cream.
Although I am not a huge fan of sweet-savory dishes, mango is a flavor I absolutely love in savory recipes as well, like my mango curry. That’s because the sweetness of this fruit is rich but not cloying, and when balanced out with savory, salty, and spicy notes, it transforms itself into something altogether differently delicious.
But there’s more reason to add mango to your plate, besides the fact that it’s delicious and a looker. It’s packed with vitamins, most notably vitamin A, and it has anti-oxidant superhero properties that kick cancer and cholesterol in the butt.
In this very simple but very tasty Savory Mango Pilaf with Cashews, it is stunning. Each grain of rice drinks in the brilliant orange mango puree and the spices, giving the final dish an elegant complexity. But for all that elegance, it is also a simple dish: it come together in minutes, with a minimum of fuss and ingredients. Serve it with a spicy dal, or even a simple vegetable side, like my Cauliflower Bezule, which I shared with you not long ago, for a winning dinner.
A gloriously delicious savory mango pilaf with cashews, made with mango puree and basmati rice. A few simple spices add delicious and elegant complexity.
- 1 cup basmati rice, soaked for 30 minutes, then drained
- 1 cup mango puree (canned or fresh is fine)
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 sprig curry leaves (about 16 leaves)
- 1 green pepper, like jalapeno, minced
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp biryani masala (sub with garam masala or curry powder if you don't have any biryani masala in your pantry)
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 cup cashews, soaked for half an hour, then drained
Heat the oil in a large saucepan.
Add the mustard seeds. When they sputter and crackle, add the curry leaves and green peppers. Add the turmeric and mix well for 20 seconds.
Add the rice and saute until the grains start to turn opaque, no more than a minute or two.
Add the mango puree, cashew nuts, biryani masala, and water, stir well, and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat the a simmer, and put on a tight lid. Cook for 20 minutes, undisturbed. Let the rice stand at least 10 more minutes after cooking, without taking the lid off, to ensure it is fully cooked.
With a fork, fluff the grains of rice and serve hot with a spicy dal or sabzi.
More mangoes from the archives: