Written by Craig Butcher
More than half the world’s mango crop is grown in India, and fortunately for us, it’s just coming into season. Here are three great places to appreciate this versatile fruit.
The Upper House
Overlooking the Municipal Gardens in the heart of the formerly Portuguese enclave of the Goan capital, Panjim, this is the place where the Alphonso mango was first introduced to India from Portugal. The restaurant is one of exceptionally few to still use salt water to pickle its mangoes for aam ka achaar, a spicy condiment found throughout India. Choose from three distinct spaces – a laid-back cafeteria, a colonial-style British pub, or a fine-dining area, all housed within a colonial-era building. Panjim.
Under The Mango Tree
Connect with the origins of the great mango fruit as you dine al fresco beneath a 100-year-old mango tree. Its majestic form is the centrepiece of the courtyard within the Jehan Numa Palace hotel in Bhopal, capital of the Madhya Pradesh region. Sadly the tree no longer provides ingredients for the kitchen, but overarches one of the hotel’s three restaurants. House specialities focus on the tandoor oven, as reflected in the mini copper tandoors that are used for serving. Bhopal.
One of India’s most heavily decorated restaurants, Bukhara has won plaudits from US presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama (not at the same time) and food critics from Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants (reaching number 27 in 2014 and the best in India – no small feat given the region’s vibrant food scene). Specialising in the ‘frontier’ cuisine of northeast India, Bukhara’s way with a tandoor oven is quite exceptional. The rustic dining space, open kitchen, and absence of cutlery is joyously at odds with its borderline celebrity status. New Delhi.
A versatile ingredient
From pickles to preserves, chutneys to curries, and smoothies to desserts, the mango is one of the world’s most versatile ingredients; perhaps one of the reasons it’s the national fruit of both India and the Philippines.
Alphonso: the ‘king of mangoes’
One of the world’s most prized varieties, the Alphonso mango is revered for its sweetness and depth of flavour. It is a bright-yellow colour with a pungent, rich aroma and is named after a 15th-century Portuguese general, Afonso de Albuquerque, who brought the variety on his regular journeys to Goa. Only available between now and June, enjoy them while you can.