Thursday, April 9, 2015

Slice and Dice: Mangoes

During my last trip to Kerala, I stayed with my dad’s younger sister, Jolly. I wanted to learn her culinary secrets so we spent a lot of time in the kitchen. It quickly become my favorite space in the house. An oft used jug of coconut oil rested on a shelf above the stove. Peppercorns, which had been plucked from the yard and dried atop a copy of the local paper, were also just within reach. There was an earthenware vessel shaped like a large vase tucked below the stone spice grinder. I learned that my grandmother, Amachi, had used it to ferment green mangoes. When my grandfather died, she swore to never again pickle the native stone fruit, and gave it to Jolly Auntie. Before the hand off, she had prepped many a mango.

The truth is if you want to cook and eat some really lovely Kerala dishes, you'll need to learn to prepare India's national fruit, which grows in abundance across the state. It can be used when it's firm and green or when it's the shade of saffron and juicy. Eager to slice one up? Then check out these tips.

How to Select a Mango

Mangoes come in many different shades. However, when selecting the stone fruit, don’t be fooled by its color. Give it a gentle squeeze. If it gives like a ripe peach, you’ll know it’s ready to eat. So nab it.
How to Prep a Mango

Inside every mango lies a stubborn, oblong pit. The most important step when prepping the succulent fruit is separating the flesh from the pit. Here’s how it’s done: 

Carefully wash the mango. Then using a vegetable peeler, remove the skin.

Peel mango

Hold the mango on its side on a cutting board with the narrow side facing up. The flesh with be juicy and slick so be sure to get a good grip.  Place the knife just off the center of the mango and slice off one side. If the flesh doesn’t give way, move the knife further off center and give it another try.

Slice off sides

Rotate the fruit and repeat on the other side.

You’ll be left with a ring of flesh encircling the pit. You have two choices: either nibble it off as a gift to yourself. Or place the seed flat on the cutting board. Following the contour of the pit, slice off the flesh.

How to Slice a Mango

Place one half of the mango on a cutting board.  Cut across the fruit width wise or lengthwise depending on how large you want the slices.

Slice across widthwise

How to Chop a Mango

Place the cut side of the mango on a cutting board.  Cut across it widthwise. Rotate the mango 90-degrees and cut across it lengthwise.

Slice lengthwise

Chopped pieces