Mangoes Have Cultural Importance in India

Marco B Divaio

According to legend, God himself weighed the sweltering Indian summer against a heap of mangoes and found the balance to be equal. The sweeter the mangoes, the hotter the summer. As a result, as the summer heat settles, the Indian population celebrates the season by eating the many delectable varieties of this fruit.

Despite the fact that mangoes first appeared in Indian literature around 700 BCE as ‘Amra’ in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, the mango’s origins can be traced back to 60 million year old fossils discovered in the Damalgiri hills of Meghalaya. Mangoes have been mentioned as a sacred fruit and tree in Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist literature. In Buddhism, for example, it is widely believed that Buddha performed several miracles while meditating under a mango tree and also created a white mango tree out of thin air, as a result of which mangoes are thought to symbolize knowledge and peace in Buddhism. Goddess Ambika, the harbinger of wealth in Jainism, holds a bunch of mangoes in her hands, representing fertility.

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Goddess Ambika seated on a lion beneath a mango tree branch with her son in the foreground – Royal Ontario Museum – 8th-9th century

Mangoes are regarded as an effective tool in the treatment of various disorders in Ayurvedic textbooks, which is not surprising given their high levels of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and minerals such as copper, potassium, and magnesium. The high vitamin A content promotes hair growth and produces sebum, an oily substance that moisturizes the hair. The high potassium content lowers the risk of high blood pressure and keeps the arteries functioning, lowering the risk of heart disease. Mango leaves, which are frequently discarded, are widely used in a variety of ayurvedic medicines. They are high in vitamins C, B, and A, as well as other nutrients. These leaves also have strong antioxidant properties due to their high flavonoid and phenol content. Mango leaves’ antioxidant and antimicrobial properties can be used to effectively treat a variety of ailments. Mangoes are considered extremely sacred and holy due to their indelible relationship with the practices and traditions of the continent; as a result, it was declared the national fruit of India in 1950, and the mango tree was declared the national tree of Bangladesh in 2010.

Mangoes have found their way into Indian cuisine due to their immense popularity among the Indian populace, ranging from pickles and chutneys that serve as perfect condiments to curries and dals, and even in several desserts.

In Gujarat, mango pickle is made by generously mixing achar masala with grated raw mango until the residue turns red and is completely coated alongside peeled small onions; oil is then poured into the container to completely submerge the ingredients before leaving it to rest. The Punjabi mango pickle, which is commonly served with aloo parathas, is made simply by combining turmeric, chili powder, fennel, dry fenugreek, and raw mango in a jar and filling it with mustard oil.

Aamer chutney, a sweet and tangy raw mango chutney, is popular in Bengal as a dessert or with dal. Mango slices are cooked in a pan with red chilies, mustard seeds, sugar, salt, and turmeric. The mangoes will be cooked until soft and mushy, and then ‘panch phoron’ will be added before serving. Aam Kasundi is another popular Bengali sauce made of mangoes that is served with fish fry or hot rice in general. It is made by pulverizing mustard seeds, salt, chopped mangoes, chillies, turmeric, salt, and sugar. This mixture is then placed in a jar, along with the oil, and shaken before being covered with a muslin cloth.

Aam Panna is a well-known drink that is used to beat the summer heat. It’s made by combining mango pulp, jaggery, mint, salt, and roasted jeera powder in a blender, then adding it to a glass of cold water and thoroughly mixing it before serving. Another popular drink in Gujarat is baflo, which is made by simply blending mango pulp, water, salt, and chaat masala in a blender.

During the summer, a special type of sambar made from mangoes known as’mambazham sambar’ is popular in Tamil Nadu. It is made by soaking the tamarind in one cup of water, then squeezing it into the water and storing it in a vessel. Before boiling for 15-20 minutes, add the mango pieces, salt, turmeric, and hing to the vessel. Coriander, toor dal, methi, pepper, grated coconut, and chilies should be dry roasted. Then coarsely grind with a little water. Add the boiled toor dal to the ground mixture, followed by the mango-tamarind water.

A popular Goan dish is prawn curry with raw mango, which is made by first soaking the tamarind in one cup of water, then squeezing it into the water and setting the water aside in a vessel. Clean the prawns, sprinkle them with salt, and set them aside for 30 minutes. Fry the sliced onion and green chilies in the oil until they are light brown. Fry the ground masala paste thoroughly. Add two cups of water, followed by the raw mango slices and tamarind water. Allow the slices to cook. Cook for seven to eight minutes after adding the prawns.

Parsi Pora with raw mango is a popular dish among India’s Parsi community. In a bowl, combine eggs, onions, coriander leaves, green chilies, a pinch of turmeric, salt, chopped raw mango, and ginger-garlic paste. Then, for 5-6 minutes, add this mixture to a hot frying pan and serve with warm chapatis.

Mango kulfi is a popular dessert in Punjabi households, and it is made by boiling milk until it is reduced by half. Take two sliced Safeda mangoes and puree them with an equal amount of sugar and a few strands of saffron. Combine the contents with the cooled milk and condensed milk, then add the vanilla extract. Then, pour the mixture into molds and freeze until the kulfi hardens. Remove the kulfi from the molds once it has hardened and serve.

Mangoes are one of the most popular fruits in the world, with approximately 20 million tonnes consumed each year due to their versatility and variety. Mangoes have become an inseparable part of Indian culture, from being used in Indian traditions and dishes to being a common snack enjoyed by locals on a hot summer day. They have also spread across the world, thanks primarily to the Portuguese, earning the title of “King of fruits.”

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