Sunday, 16 November 2014

Mangoes, from India to Axarquía

Mangoes - notoriously difficult to peel and de-stone but worth the effort when you are presented with a sweet, juicy fruit that is incredibly versatile.

Author: Tyk, based File:Andalucía-loc.svg by user:Miguillen


Axarquía is a comarca (administrative region) within the Málaga province of Andalucía and its main source of income comes from agriculture and tourism. Sitting to the east of Málaga it is less tourist-reliant than the west-side, and the mountains and valleys produce a variety of produce from moscatel grapes to tomatoes and avocados. 







Author: Deborah CaterAuthor: Deborah Cater


What is probably surprising to many is that this sub-region of Andalucía is also the primary exporter of mangoes in the European community (it was certainly a surprise to my Axarquía born students). The Axarquían farmers are apt at diversifying, and whilst the historic crop of Moscatel grapes is still going strong - with annual festivals to celebrate the harvest, such as the one in Iznate - the profit in avocados and mangoes is not to be ignored. This year the Málaga province recorded a harvest of more than 20,000 tonnes of the fruit, doubling the previous year's harvest.




The avocado is pretty well established in the cuisine of southern Spain, but the mango is still finding its feet. It is often found paired with the avocado in salads  or as a contrast to cheeses, pates or grilled meats, but its primary use is for chutney. 


I, however, when presented with some mangoes by my landlord, who is a tomato, avocado and mango farmer, decided to use them in ways that hark back to their Asian roots: as a lassi and in a curry. My landlady decided I was mad, "Mango go in a curry? That's not right." 

She was wrong, I am right! As those from the Indian sub-continent know, mangoes work very well in a curry. My recipe is a chicken and mango curry - it is a sweet, light curry, perfect for late summer evenings, or for giving you a warm, cosy feeling on a winter night and evoking memories of hot summers. (Sorry about the lack of photos, but I was so hungry I just tucked in :/).

My initial attempt, whilst lovely, was missing something; so I added cumin to the recipe to give a hint of an earthy tone.


Chicken and Mango Curry
Serves 4

Ingredients
2 mangoes, peeled, stoned and diced
2 skinless chicken breasts, cut into largish chunks
1 onion, chopped
 spice mix - 1 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp ground cumin, 2 minced cloves of garlic, a grated thumb of fresh ginger, 1 chilli (you can choose the heat you like)
1 can (400g) of coconut milk
A little oil 

Method

  1. In a large saucepan or pot, gently cook the onion in the oil until it is softened, not coloured.
  2. Add the spice mix and cook for about 30 seconds
  3. Add the chicken and cook until the meat has started to colour. Keep turning the chicken so that it is covered in the spice and onion mix.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients, put the lid on and leave it to simmer gently for about 30 minutes.
  5. Occasionally give the curry a stir, but not too much or the mango will disintegrate.
Serve on a bed of basmati rice.

I washed the curry down with a Brut Cava; a light wine with the bubbles cutting through the sweetness of the curry. A Brut is definitely required otherwise the whole affair would be to sweet.


Mango Lassi
A healthy morning, or afternoon, tipple is a lassi. Naturally, I made a mango lassi which is cooling, refreshing and sweet enough to subdue any sugar cravings.

Author: Deborah Cater

I made mango lassi at the same time as the curry, but with mango overload imminent, I put some of it in the freezer. As one of the ingredients is ice this really is not a problem and the result (seen above) was of a granita texture. It had kept well and was as delicious as the first time of eating.


Ingredients

2 mangoes - peeled, stoned and diced
400ml plain yoghurt
200 ml of ice
sugar to taste

Method
  1. Blend together the ingredients.
  2. Serve in tall glasses, either with a straw or a spoon.

Tip

The amount of sugar you use is up to you. For the recipe below you could use up to 100g of sugar, but personally I find that too sweet. Add the sugar in batches, and keep tasting until it is the rate level of sweetness for your palate.








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