When I talk about mangos, it brings back so many childhood memories. There was a ‘Rata- amba’ (mango) tree in our home garden in Sri Lanka and I am not raving when I say this, that humongous tree gave the most delicious mangos ever! It is in our culture to share food, not just with our friends but even with our neighbours and we practice this through our day to day activities and during special occasions. Although Sri Lanka is a tiny island, it is a nation rich in different cultures and religions due to the footprints left by all the past immigrants. During different religious and other special occasions such as Divali, Chrismas or Sinhala Tamil New Year, sharing a plate of food with your neighbours is not missed. Also, when someone makes a ‘special’ food, or they pluck a crop from their backyard, Sri Lankans are most likely to share it with their friends and neighbours. During the mango season, branches of this ‘Rata-Amba’ tree gets full with fragrant, sweet mangos and we end up plucking a few large sackfuls of them. Most of it then was shared with our families, friends and neighbours. We also did not forget to leave a share of mangoes in the tree itself for the birds and squirrels that were visiting our garden.
There were carts full of pickled raw fruits near our school and we had to pass through them to reach the school bus. Mango pickle was the favourite among the most. The school kids, including myself, rush to buy those tangy, sweet and spicy pickles from the sellers after school and I remember collecting pocket money for this purpose – those were the days!
Not many cuisines have green mangos in a curry form but we Sri Lankans cook green mangos into curries which is a great accompaniment to tie a ‘rice and curry’ meal together. Some people call it a rice-puller because you end up eating more rice because of its irresistible flavour. You will find many varieties of mango curries on the island depending on the region but this particular curry is a cross between a chutney and a sweet & spicy curry. Was not a big fan of this curry when I was a kid but my taste buds have certainly become more refined with age, and I can truly appreciate the complex flavours that permeate this rich, flavourful dish.
You need to find green, unripped mangos for this curry. Otherwise, you will find it hard to split the mangos into the required size and it also takes longer to cook.
- 3-4 green mangos
- 1 medium-sized onion sliced
- 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
- 2-3 fresh green chillies
- 1-inch cinnamon stick
- 1 spring curry leave
- 4-inch pandan leaf
- 2 heaped tsp meat curry powder
- 1 tbsp roasted curry powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 cups water (or thin coconut milk)
- 1 cup thick coconut milk (avoid coconut milk if you wish to keep this curry for about two weeks in the fridge)
- salt to taste
- Wash the mangos and split them into 4 – 6 pieces while removing the seeds. Place the mangos in a medium-sized pan.
- Add all the ingredients into the pan other than sugar, water and thick coconut milk and combine well with the mangos. Ensure the pieces are evenly coated with the spices.
- Now add water, cover the pan and set it on medium heat.
- When the mangos are half cooked you will be able to taste how sweet they are. Depending on the sweetness of the mangos and your liking, add sugar, mix well and cover the pan again. Reduce the heat to low heat.
- One the water is reduced by 2/3 add coconut milk and let it simmer in the low heat until the curry thins and turn into dark brown. Add more salt and/ or sugar if needed. By avoiding the coconut milk, you can keep the mango curry for up to two weeks in the fridge in an airtight container.
- Serve it with rice (suggestions; Sri Lankan Yellow rice, steamed rice, gee rice, tomato garlic rice)