The cool misty mornings of late Febrauary / early March are now a month old memory. Hot and clammy days are here and I’m really looking forward to the arrival of the monsoons in June. Though the monsoons bring their own set of discomforts, it’s a season I enjoy very much. It’s a welcome respite from the heat of the summer, and a good time to relax indoors with a book and a hot cup of tea.
The summer does have its own advantages though, one of them being mangoes!
Mangoes have slowly started arriving at my market for a couple of weeks now but are so expensive, I’d rather wait another couple of weeks till mangoes flood the market and the prices come down.
Luckily for me, a friend ensured I didn’t wait that long by gifting me some mangoes, both raw and ripe, that her mother had brought over from Kerala (harvested from their backyard). Some of the raw mangoes were made into Maangakari, while one mango was used up to make this very tasty mango chutney.
I use the term “chutney” here as I don’t know of another that comes close to describe this. A chammandhi is a very thick coconut based spicy chutney from Kerala, which usually eaten with rice or “kanji” which is a rice gruel/ porridge. Traditionally made by grinding on a stone slab with a pestle (called an “ammikallu”), chammandhis come in a variety of tastes depending on what is added to it.
Chammandhi is somewhat similar to thogayal (another type of thick coconut chutney) but does not contain lentils. This chutney from Kerala has become a part of our cuisine too, but our Palakkad Iyer version does not use shallots, which many maanga chammandhi recipes typically do.
To make a good maanga chammandhi, the mango used must be raw and quite sour. Remember that this is a spicy preparation, and the chillies are needed to balance the sourness of the mangoes along with the salt. This chammandhi is best when served with kanji (which is bland) and pappads. I also serve this with mulagootal or mulagushyam.
While on the topic of mangoes, a comparitively poor mango season has been predicted this year due to unseasonal rains. Rain during the flowering season of the mango trees causes the flowers to fall resulting in fewer mangoes than usual. So it was heartening to see so many mango laden trees on our trip back home, last week. My sister-in-law has one such mango tree in her backyard, which partially leans onto her terrace which makes plucking mangoes very easy. I came back to Goa with a huge bag full of green mangoes from her tree, and have spent most of the past two days turning them into Maanga Thokku and Chundo.