Mango – The King of Fruits

Mango is known as the ‘King of fruits’ in India. It is called Aaam in Hindi, Mangaai in Tamil, Aamrum in Sanskrit, Mango in English and Spanish, manja in Dutch…

Once a person eats a fully ripe, sweet juicy mango, one would want to eat it again and again such is the taste and experience!  Eaten by themselves or in a variety of dishes, mangoes add antioxidants and fiber to your diet. People have always enjoyed ripe and raw mangoes alike. And perhaps no other fruit, when unripe is as popular as Mangoes are. Raw mangoes are abundantly used in making pickles,chutneys and preserves.Raw mango slices are dried in the sun and used in cooking.

History of Mangoes

The “ King of fruits” has been around for at least 6,000 years. Mangoes are Native to India and Burma.This sweet and delicious fruit was described in the ancient Sanskrit literatures,  for example :  in Valmiki’s Ramayana and The Mahabharata . The mango was also the fruit favored by the kings and emperors in ancient India, where princes used to pride themselves on the possession of large mango orchards. Persian traders took the fruit into the Middle East while the Portuguese travellers brought it to Europe .

Ever since the Vedic period, mangoes have been highly appreciated in ayurvedic healing and cooking. Mango trees belong to the same family as cashews and pistachios, and can grow to the height of 50 feet or even taller . The bark, leaf, flowers, fruit and seeds are used in a variety of medicinal potions and powders.

India is the largest producer of mangoes in the entire world. More than 1,000 varieties of the fruit are grown across the country, mainly in the Southern, Northern and Eastern parts.They vary in shape from round to pear -shaped to narrow and oval. Some of the varieties can weigh as much as four to five pounds each.Mangoes are in season from January through August, peaking in May and June. India annually produces some ten million tonnes of Mangoes and is the largest exporter of the fruit.

The Indian Tourism Development Corporation, of late, has been holding International mango festivals every year in April and May to promote tourism and mango exports..

Mangoes are rich in antioxidants such as beta-carotene, and Vitamin C. Antioxidants have been shown to play an important role in the prevention of cancer and heart disease. They also contain bioflavonoids, the compounds that help plants capture energy from the sun, and when eaten they aid our immune system. Mangoes also supply potassium and fibre and are low in calories. The insoluble fibre, abundant in mangoes prevents constipation.

Some of more well known varieties of mangoes are Alphonso , Kesar , Neelam , Banganpalli , Mallika , Raspoori , Dashehari , Kalapadi , Pairi

Mangoes are extensively used in every day cooking while in season. As an ingredient in main course dishes, green mango adds the perfect acidic flavour. Mutton, fish and chicken take well to green mangoes.There are many curries ,salads and chutneys made with both raw and ripe mangoes.

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