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Bengali Mango Dishes

Five mango dishes (with recipes) that define a Bengali summer

Savoury and sweet, starter and main — these are some of the staple Bengali dishes for mango season

Rumela Basu | Published 02.06.22, 02:22 PM

@flavoured_talks_/Instagram

As we huff, puff and pant in the heat of summer, a small solace for every Bengali living in Kolkata is that these sultry months are also mango season. Baskets of green kancha aam have been in the markets for a while and the fragrant, ripe Golapkhash and Banginapalli have also made an appearance

As with any Indian culinary tradition, Bengalis also have their seasonal staples that appear annually in our kitchen and on our plates as the temperature and weather changes. And in this season, from summer-special drinks to end-of-meal sweet treats, everything features the king of fruits. Some dishes are experiments, some are better for the mango in them, and then there are some that are the mainstays — whose presence defines the Bangali summer palate. 

Tok dal

Dal meets mango to create a plethora of yummy dishes all around India – from the Maharashtrian aamti to the Tamilian mambazham sambar. In Bengal, it is the savoury-sour tok dal. The staple mushoor (masoor or split peas), with sour green mango, and the pungency and sharpness of mustard oil from the tempering come together in this light summer classic.

Quick recipe: Boil the dal with turmeric and salt, and set it aside. In a kadhai, heat mustard oil and add mustard seeds and dry red chilli before adding the mangoes. Lower the flame and let the slices of mango cook and soften. Pour the dal and let it splutter. Allow to boil and cook for a few minutes before adding a few whole green chillies and taking it off the flame.

Aam kasundi

Nobody honours mustard the way Bengalis do. The Japanese have wasabi and we have kasundi — not even going to the shorshe tel and shorshe phoron! If there’s anything better than the sharp, vibrant kasundi, it’s the sharp, vibrant, with-a-bite-of-lip-curling-sour aam kasundi. In some Bengali families, there is a well-known story about how kasundi is not made in all households because it could bring bad luck, but even they have the recipe for a good aam kasundi.

Quick recipe: Coarsely grind mustard seeds soaked for over an hour with a pinch of salt before adding chopped green mangoes, turmeric, salt and sugar and grinding again. Pour in a glass jar and add some mustard oil before keeping it out in the sunlight for at least two to three days. 

Aam bata

This one is not much to look at, but it packs a puckering punch. When the green mangoes are not wholly tart and have just that hint of sweetness, that’s when some Bengalis grind them to a (very tasty) mush and have it at the start of the meal with hot, hot rice.

Quick recipe: Simply chop the sweet-sour mango into small pieces, add a few cloves of garlic, some green chillies, salt and some sugar, and a little mustard oil, grind to a mush. Drizzle a little oil on the top. Add a small dollop of ghee to your rice and a spoonful of aam bata, and thank us later

Aamer tok

Not to be confused with the aamer chutney, which is thicker and sweeter, the aamer tok is essentially a tart mango broth. We all have memories from childhood (and moments from present time) where we’ve added the runny jhol of this sweet dish to even out the spiciness of the chicken or mutton curry.

Quick recipe: To make this lighter, more-sour-than-sweet cousin of the chutney, heat some mustard oil in a pan and add mustard seeds and couple of dry red chillies, add long slices of green mangoes, sugar, salt and turmeric. Give it all a stir before you add water, cover and let it simmer. Let the mangoes soften and cook, adjust the sweetness if necessary, and before you take it off the heat add some dry roasted and roughly ground paanch phoron.

Aamshotto

Another one of those dishes — this time with ripe, yellow mangoes — that unites the country during mango season is the aamshotto, otherwise known as aam papad. If you haven’t snacked on chewy mango fruit leather, you haven’t had a fulfilling Indian summer. The Bengali aamshotto, unlike the aam papad in other parts, is a little more chewy and much darker in colour. Sometimes, depending on the sweetness of the mango, it can also have a subtle sour note.

Quick recipe: Making an aamshotto is a two-step process: blend mango pulp with sugar and spread on a plate, and then dry in the sun. The sweet mango puree needs to be fine and free of chunks. Once spread in a thin layer on a plate or a tray lined with baking paper, it can either be sun-dried, dehydrated or baked to make sweet, chewy aamshotto.

Last updated on 02.06.22, 02:22 PM
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