Mangoes to die for
26 July 2015
MANGO MANIA: People snapping up boxes of mangoes at the Pakistani Food and Mango festival held at Al Khor Community.
By Aney Mathew
It’s quite a sight; rows and rows of boxes containing delicious-smelling mangoes are stacked high, in the assigned area of the auditorium.
Excited groups of people are eagerly making enquiries and purchasing boxes of mangoes on one side; while on the other, the early birds are contently wheeling away trolleys piled high with their purchase of the delectable fruit.
We stand among the crowd almost lost, wondering which variety to go for.
The Pakistani Food and Mango Festival conducted by ‘Sohni Dharti’ in Al Khor Community was on, and anyone in the township with a taste bud that yearns for mangoes seemed to have made their attendance.
Hailing from the land that produces nearly half of the world’s mangoes, we are used to seeing and tasting several varieties of this delicious fruit - India has several hundred varieties of mangoes, after all.
However, the boxes of mangoes stacked in front of us most invitingly look rather unfamiliar to our untrained eyes.
As if reading our mind, Shabbir Siddiqui a long-time friend and President of Sohni Dharthi (a Pakistani socio-cultural organisation), graciously stepped forward to help.
“Try the Chaunsa; it’s one of the best varieties of Pakistani mangoes.”
Well that was all the invitation hubby needed; soon we were part of the group, excitedly buying boxes of mangoes.
It must be added that mango shopping is one of those times when hubby doesn’t worry about the wife’s overindulgent purchases!
Shabbir also gives us a quick lesson on Pakistani mangoes and some ofthe more famous varieties.
“Chuansa, Dasheri, Sindhri, Anwar Ratole and Langra are all loved in Pakistan. Chaunsa is widely regarded as the best Pakistani mango and is acclaimed for being deliciously juicy with a pleasant aroma. About 70% of the mangoes on sale today are Chaunsa.”
“For this festival we’ve arranged to have 6,000kgs of mangoes for sale. They have been individually hand-picked, according to our instruction, to ensure the best quality. We have community members enquiring regularly about this much awaited annual Mango festival,” he adds with a smile.
Watching the crowd picking up boxes, it was apparent that Chaunsa and Anwar Ratol were the clear favourites.
I get some interesting lessons on mangoes: A mango tree Chaunsa was popularised throughout the subcontinent by Sher Shah Suri – the ‘lion king’ who founded the Sur Empire in North India.
While commemorating his victory celebrations over Mughal emperor Humayun at Chausa, the triumphant Sher Shah Suri named his favourite mango – Chaunsa. What an endorsement for the king of fruits!
All those sweet lessons on mangoes actually gets me on a very philosophical note - living in Qatar is certainly a privilege in so many ways; we get to taste and enjoy almost the best from around the world, in more ways than one!
Still on the philosophical note, I wonder at the marvel that the universe is – while the varieties of fruits available in nature’s store are mind-boggling, it’s astounding to think of the varieties that are available in mangoes alone; there are several hundred cultivators of delectable mangoes available.
By the way, did you know that a mango tree can continue to produce fruit even after the ripe old age of 300 years?
It wasn’t given the title ‘king of fruits’ for nothing.
Everyone (well almost everyone) loves mangoes; how can you not? So appreciated is the fruit that gifting someone a basket of mangoes is considered a gesture of friendship.
This luscious fruit has played a role even in diplomatic circles for years, both to strengthen and to quell tension. What a delicious way to settle differences!
In fact Pakistani mangoes made it to the news even recently when Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan, sent a box of mangoes to his counterpart in India – Narendra Modi, through official channels as an Eid gift in the backdrop of a row along the border of the two neighbouring countries.
It is a fruit of national importance in the subcontinent. While being hailed as the national tree of Bangladesh, it’s the national fruit of India, Pakistan and even the Philippines.
Although India has the largest yield of mangoes, producing more than half of the world’s produce, it accounts for less than one percent of the international mango trade. The rest is contentedly consumed within the country itself — talk about a love for mangoes!
There’s good news for mango aficionados — the scrumptious fruit can be classified under ‘super foods’, as they contain over 20 different vitamins and minerals.
One cup of mango provides 100% of our daily vitamin C needs, as well as 35% of our vitamin A and 10% of our vitamin B6 requirement. They are also good sources of foliate and copper.
Carrying home our own boxes of the succulent fruit, we sure seemed to have bought more than our fair share of delicious nutrition for weeks to come!
Did I just say that?