As kids, we waited for summer vacation like any other child to be free from the bondage of school. It didn’t help that we had no living grandparents or a ‘native place’ to go back to like our friends. As a result of which, there were hardly any other kids to play with and we were a nightmare to our poor old nanny who was with us from before my brother was born. She had absolutely no control over three and later four boisterous kids. We’d spend the whole day playing in the sun much to her chagrin. The poor old lady would chase after us in our ample open yard, often pleading with us to stay indoors and play inside. Of course we never heeded to what she said, only running into the house to guzzle water from the fridge and wallop multiple mangoes. She had a polio limp and her name was kamalamma. But as ignorant and insensitive kids, we insisted on calling her kunti (limp in telugu) kamalamma.
She loved both me and my brother dearly and to this day, whenever he is sick, he craves for her touch. She would sit by his bedside applying a cold compress on his forehead and overzealously guarding the freshly squeezed mosambi (sweet lime) juice that was reserved only for the sick!
Summer months also meant that apart from eating mangoes as is, we’d have it for breakfast. Either rolling the succulent strips of banganapalli within a paratha or having aam ras made from the sucking variety with puri. Now ofcourse because of health and the effort that goes into making puris, I settle for rotis or parathas. Scooping up the sweet – tangy aam ras with a piece of flaky roti and shoveling it into the mouth is the stuff my childhood summers were made up of.
Legend has it that every alternate year will be bountiful in mango produce but like all legends, I don’t really know if there is any truth in this. Last year K and I went bonkers eating mangoes all day long. It helps that the summer heat is so debilating that I refuse almost all kinds of cooked food and reach out for that chilled mango from the fridge. I mostly like them as fruit, cut or whole. On occasion I manage shrikhand or lassi. I haven’t yet found the heart to cook / bake with mangoes.
The best thing about summer inHyderabadis the availability of the myriad varieties of mangoes. From the home grown banagapalli (my favourite), to the cheruku and china rasalu of the Andhra region, himayat or imampasand, dusseri, mallika, alphonso etc. cutters, suckers…take your pick….
Today is nostalgia ridden. Aam ras needs just three ingredient the most succulent variety of mangoes, sugar and some elbow grease.
Aam Ras (makes 6-8 servings)
1 kg cheruku rasam sucking mangoes
½ – 2/3 cup of granulated sugar
Wash the mangoes and press gently all over the skin to soften it a get the juices out. Remove the black part around the stalk and press out about a teaspoon of the liquidy juice (this needs to be discarded). Into a bowl, press out the remaining pulp / juice of the mango. Working with your hands and squeezing the seed with all your might. Repeat with all the mangoes. Some of the mango fibre will also fall into the bowl. Once all the mangoes have been pulped, push the pulp through a soup strainer, stirring with a spoon to speed it up and remove all the fibre. Add the sugar and stir well. Taste and adjust the amount of sugar according to the tartness of the pulp. Chill for a couple of hours. Serve with hot parathas or puri. If you are conscious about oil etc, phulkas will also do.
If you cant get the sucking variety of mangoes and are using cutting mangoes, remove the skin, cut into pieces and pulse with the sugar and a little water to get the right consistency. It should not be runny, neither too pulpy.
Other serving options:
- Whisk together equal quantities of aamras and hung curd (greek yoghurt) to make amrakhand
- Serve as a topping sauce with vanilla or mango icecream
- Topping for fruit salad