July 6th, 2009
Despite the onslaught of departmental stores and malls in Indian towns and cities, one can still find vendors selling fruits and vegetables on the bylanes, streets, on highway roadsides and from home to home. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are sold fresh from the farm.
I’m a huge fan of buying produce from such folks. The warmth of personal exchanges replaces the mechanical response you get from uniformed store assistants. Plastic wrapped boxes of fruit sitting on the shelves in the air-conditioned environment of huge stores simply fails to allure my heart. The other day I had the charming experience of interacting with a simple village woman who comes to the city everyday to sell local and seasonal produce. She was trying her best to convince us to buy the last mangoes of the season. Being abandoned by her only son she found happiness and income for living by selling produce.
It is time to bid a temporary adieu to my favourite fruit, the mango. It is just out of season here in India and I already cant wait for it to start appearing next year. I crave fresh seasonal mangoes through the year. I squeal in delight each year when “Iqbal bhai”, my mango supplier in Mumbai gives me a call sometime in March to announce the arrival of the “king of fruits”.
One afternoon, when I was sitting with my grandmother with a cup of rooibos, I saw the last few mangoes that were remaining and wondered what to do with them. I suddenly remembered the taste of this mango preserve from my childhood and urged my grandmother to show me how she made her exotic “gulamba”. This way I could relish the taste of the mangoes for a few more weeks. My ever-enthusiastic grandmother obliged and the result was juicy succulent pieces of mangoes in gooey mango flavoured sugar syrup. If you ever happen to try this mango preserve, I promise you, you wont be disappointed.
Mango Preserve/Gulamba Recipe
This preserve is best prepared with alphonso mangoes.
1½ cup mangoes cubed
1 cup sugar
½ cup water
Place the sugar and water in a wok or a saucepan over a medium flame and keep stirring until the sugar dissolves completely. When the sugar dissolves and the syrup starts to simmer, add the mangoes and boil for 10 minutes on a medium low flame. After it cools down, transfer to a clean air-tight container and store in the refrigerator. Can be stored for about 4 weeks.