Mangoes are an essential part of any Asians diet. Purely for the delicate deliciousness of the sweet sensual juices that blast me into ecstasy every time!!
They are a mutli-talent of a fruit. Starting with the ripe fruit which can be peeled and ate with your bare hands whilst the juices run down your elbows and not giving a shit because it’s just so delicious!! The unripe fruit is eaten all over Asia with a salt and chilli mixture. Unripe they are an ideal ingredient for many sour dishes. Sour mango fish curry in bangladesh is a delicacy. The ripe fruits can be squeezed out and the juice dried out over days and days under the baking Bangladeshi sun to make mango leather (‘soti’ in Bengali). Another of those sweet sour treats we’d eagerly await as kids when someone we knew was coming back from Bangladesh. Then there are the chutnis (‘satni’ in Bengali) and of course one of my favourite mango asar (‘amor asar’ in Bengali). I’m not sure of the name for this in English. Sour unripe baby mangoes before they develop a hard seed are cut up and dried and prepared with oil, spices and vinegar. They are then put in jars and left in the sun again. An arduous processing taking over a week. But the end result is well worth it!! And last but not least is ‘ami’. These are small strips of unripe mangoes whilst they are still small, extremely sour and very aromatic, dried in the sun over days and days. They are then stored and last for over a year to be used as the sour ingredient for many sour fish curry dishes from Bangladesh. You can even make a sour fish curry dish from the flowers of the mango tree when it first blooms!! I ate this for the first time last year whilst I was there. YUMMY!!! :-) :-) :-)
Luckily in London you can get Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani mangoes. Their sweetness is worlds apart from the huge tasteless mangoes imported from Brazil you get in the supermarkets in London and Berlin. Absolutely no offense meant. I’ve never been to South America and I’m sure they keep the delicious ones for themselves!! Berlin is such a sad case as these are the only mangoes you can get unless you know which time of year to go to the Indian or Asian food stores. European summertime is when the Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani mangoes ripen and are available in (obviously) the Bengali, Indian or Pakistani groceries dotted all over east London.
Now back to Cambodia. Here you seem to get mangoes all year round (bliss )!! Ripe and delicious and sweet. Here are some pics of the varieties I’ve tried so far.
Svai Lahuat in Khmer. Sweet and bright orange inside. They seem to available all year round here in Cambodia!
BELOW: Svai porm on the left, svai lahuat in the middle and svai Thai on the right. The sweetest is the svai Thai. Svai porm is by far the most aromatic but also fibrous. Svai lahuat varies from very sweet to sometimes not so sweet. The svai porm I’ve never seen in the market. I nicked this one from someones tree.
Svai Thai top left and below. Svai lahuat top right.
You can see the varying colours of the mangoes. The svai Thai is more of a yellowy colour. The svai porm on the left is normally also bright orange. This one is a little white still because it wasn’t fully ripe!