Even in this grim spring, cold, damp and windy, one of the best things about London, owing to the large South Asian population, is the solid 4 months of mango season. Starting in mid-May and going to mid-September, we get a variety of (Indian/Pakistani) mangoes, mainly in Bethnal Green Road and Whitechapel Road, but probably also in Wembley/Southall and perhaps Edgeware Road. In Afro-Caribbean markets (Ridley Road or Deptford), one can find Dominican mangoes. Supermarkets also carry them at inflated prices.
Prices and varieties change – last few weeks we’ve had both Alphonso and Kesar, the former very aromatic, if less sweet, than the latter. The sweetest and most intense fruit is nearer the end of the season. Prices are between £5-7 for a box (usually 6-9), and I’d guess Whitechapel Road is a bit cheaper owing to the 7-10 mango sellers lined up on either side of the Tube entrance.
Besides the obvious tactic of eating them, unadorned, in all their messy glory, I find them lovely in a sort of porridge. The richness is cut by the blandness of oats and milk. In India, I think this is made with rice (boiled or puffed) and milk, but that’s probably a bit too diabetic for my taste.
It’s fairly messy to make….I literally have taken to preparing it before the morning shower, not least because the oats need a little time to soak. Start with a ripe mango (usually will be yielding, but not overly so, with a fine perfume and perhaps some juices leaking out of the stem end). Starting at the stem end, gently press the skin, working your way around in a spiral towards the other end, softening the fruit up. Basically the juices are being liberated from the fibre and pulp.
Once the mango has been softened up, make an incision just below the point where the stem joins the fruit. Best to keep the incision small, as it’ll eventually expand, and at some point, the stone with pop out, making a mess.
Having previously poured oats and milk into a bowl (NB: in the pictures, I also have muesli and linseeds in my mix, which I don’t recommend as it detracts from the flavour and texture), start squeezing the juice of the mango out through the little hole. Best to work from the stem end, gently, going towards the other end. If little bits of fibre and pulp start coming out, that’s fine: just place the whole fruit on a plate, cut them off and put them in the oats and milk.
Once the mango is emptied of juice, the squeamish can stop and set to eating. However, I prefer to cut the mango open, place it on a plate, scrape the fibre/pulp off the skin, and in the messiest bit of all, carefully scrape/cut pulp and fibre from the stone (which is well slippery), and then dispose of stone and skin, putting the juice/fibre/pulp into the bowl.
Stir and eat (or let it sit for 20 minutes to absorb into the oats). Wash dishes, hands and face immediately.