05/27/13 1:28pm

Desify: An Ode to Indian Mango Season

Here in New York City, Indian mangoes are still hard to find. Occasionally a few boxes of Alphonso or Kesar mangoes turn up, perhaps in an Indian grocery in Jackson Heights. But they’re usually mealy, flavorless, and overpriced.

Walk into a food market in India during mango season (April-June, roughly), and the sweet aroma of ripe mangoes will greet you at the door. You’ll find at least a dozen different varieties of mango in any market there—much like the apple section of an American grocery store, but so much better.

Neelam mangoes—small, buttery-smooth, fiber-free, and honey-sweet—are my favorite. But in New York, I’ve learned to enjoy Ataulfo mangoes from Mexico and Haiti. They’re easy to find here and, except for their annoyingly fibrous innards, are very similar to Indian Alphonso mangoes.

There are many different ways to eat a mango—some more polite than others. But if you prefer to skip the knives and spoons and down your mango with maximum efficiency (and minimal fuss), there’s only one way to go. I learned this mango-eating method while visiting relatives of my husband in a small village in North India, and it’s pure, Indian genius.

Step 1: Select a ripe mango that’s soft to the touch.

Step 1: Select a ripe mango, one that’s soft to the touch.

Step 2: Gently squeeze and prod your mango, turning its flesh into juicy mango pulp. Be careful not to break the skin (or you’ll be covered in sticky mango juice).

Step 2: Gently squeeze and prod your mango, turning its flesh into juicy mango pulp. Be careful not to break the skin (or you’ll be covered in sticky mango juice).

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Step 3: Nibble a small hole in the mango’s skin, where the stem meets the fruit.

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Step 4: Suck out all the juice and pulp; savor. Then use your teeth to scrape the last bits of fruit off the seed.

If you do this right, you won’t even break your stride while eating—or need a napkin to clean up afterward.

When she is not editing economics books, Anne Noyes Saini covers food culture and immigration in New York City. She has contributed to The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, Narratively, WNYC-FM, WBUR-FM, and City Limits magazine.

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