Friday, May 4, 2012

Traveling with Mangoes Across Time & Cultures

I love mangoes! So beautiful and blushing, with a sweet enticing aroma...a temptation for the taste buds.

My childhood in Bangladesh was wonderful. I grew up in house surrounded by a lush green garden full of fruit trees. Towering sway-backed coconut palms, thick ancient Jack Fruit trees with their heavy, prickly fruit, pale slender guava trees and the many-branched mango trees.  As a child, I spent many days climbing the mango trees, sometimes for the fruit, but more often to hide in and daydream.

And I always looked forward to Spring because she brought along mango blossoms. The delicate, lacy sprays of flowers would cover the trees like festive adornment and herald the coming of mango-eating season. Joy! Joy! Joy!

So when I moved to West Texas, bone dry and dusty, one of the things I missed most was that childhood garden. I tried to fill the void in my heart by buying mangoes whenever they were available at the grocery store. I enjoyed every bite of the sweet goodness, but it only lasted as long as the mangoes (and no, I didn't let them sit around too long...too tasty for that!). For a while I was all gung-ho about planting a mango tree in my new garden, but my patient Cowboy explained the West Texas environment wasn't the most hospitable when it came to mangoes. So I had to satisfy myself with my grocery store finds.

Then one day, recently, the National Mango Board sent me a box of mangoes.

While it was simply promotion to them, it was the best gift for me. Believe me, nothing compares to receiving  a box of mangoes in the mail. I opened the box up with eager fingers, until the first whiff of the aroma hit me. I stilled, and then continued more slowly, savoring the moment. When the mangoes lay revealed among all the packing materials, I almost cried.

For a moment, I was back in Bangladesh.

Every summer we would not only harvest mangoes from the garden, but also receive baskets full of them from my father's village. I received those baskets with dancing joy and when I received the box of mangoes, my heart danced again.

This month we are celebrating #Letslunch member @CowgirlChef aka Ellise Pierce and her wonderful new cookbook Cowgirl Chef: Texas Cooking With a French Accent (Love the title!).

To celebrate Ellise's love for fusion cooking, I decided to take my favorite fruit and incorporate it into a recipe from my West Texas mother-in-law. Fusion at its sweetest! (Yes, I went there...just couldn't resist)

Mango Cobbler -- A Texas Dessert with Exotic Bengali Flair.
My hubby adapted his mother’s Hasty Peach Cobbler recipe to include ingredients in our pantry. You can substitute your preferred flour, sweetner and fats. Note: we prefer our cobblers not-too sweet so you might have to adjust the sugar to taste. And, of course, I put in the mangoes!
½ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup Splenda brown sugar mix (if using real sugar use ½ cup)
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
3 tablespoons butter (a little bit of the real stuff really adds the wow factor)
2 cups of sliced mangoes with juices
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Put butter in 9 ½” baking dish and melt in oven.
  3. Mix first six ingredients together to make batter, pour into baking pan.
  4. Pour fruit and juice over the top. DO NOT STIR.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until done.
Um, sorry no photos. By the time I remembered, the cobbler was almost gone. So you know it's yummy! :)

Here are some other delicious fusion #Letslunch posts for you to check out:

Lucy’s Coconut Rice Pudding with Mango on A Cook and Her Books
Renee’s Asian Spiced Quick Pickles on My Kitchen and I
Nancie’s Chili-Cheese Biscuits from Sandra Gutierrez

Now for one of my favorite Mango quotes --from my dear friend Anju Gattani (who is as mad about mangoes and Bollywood hottie SRK as me):

 THEDJINN'SDILEMMA BY MINA KHAN @SpiceBites, a must-summer-read 2 bring out the wild MANGO in you!!!