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 in a cubbyhole 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. After my grandfather died, she swore off pickling India's national 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 mangoes, which grows in abundance across the state. The native stone fruit can be used when they are firm and green or soft 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. Slice off the tip to make it easier to peel. Then using a vegetable peeler, remove the skin.

Slice off the lower tip of the mango

Peel off the skin

Hold the mango on its side on a cutting board. Place the knife right next to the seed and slice off one side. If you hit the seed, move the knife further off center and give it another try.

Slice off the flesh from the side of the seed

Rotate the fruit and repeat on the other side.

Slice the flesh off of the other side of the mango

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 the mango width wise or lengthwise

How to Chop a Mango

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

Rotate the mango and slice into chuncks
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