Mangoes are an essential part of any Asians diet. Purely for the delicate deliciousness of the sweet sensual juices that blast me into ecstasy every time!!
They are a mutli-talent of a fruit. Starting with the ripe fruit which can be peeled and ate with your bare hands whilst the juices run down your elbows and not giving a shit because it’s just so delicious!! The unripe fruit is eaten all over Asia with a salt and chilli mixture. Unripe they are an ideal ingredient for many sour dishes. Sour mango fish curry in bangladesh is a delicacy. The ripe fruits can be squeezed out and the juice dried out over days and days under the baking Bangladeshi sun to make mango leather (‘soti’ in Bengali). Another of those sweet sour treats we’d eagerly await as kids when someone we knew was coming back from Bangladesh. Then there are the chutnis (‘satni’ in Bengali) and of course one of my favourite mango asar (‘amor asar’ in Bengali). I’m not sure of the name for this in English. Sour unripe baby mangoes before they develop a hard seed are cut up and dried and prepared with oil, spices and vinegar. They are then put in jars and left in the sun again. An arduous processing taking over a week. But the end result is well worth it!! And last but not least is ‘ami’. These are small strips of unripe mangoes whilst they are still small, extremely sour and very aromatic, dried in the sun over days and days. They are then stored and last for over a year to be used as the sour ingredient for many sour fish curry dishes from Bangladesh. You can even make a sour fish curry dish from the flowers of the mango tree when it first blooms!! I ate this for the first time last year whilst I was there. YUMMY!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂
Luckily in London you can get Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani mangoes. Their sweetness is worlds apart from the huge tasteless mangoes imported from Brazil you get in the supermarkets in London and Berlin. Absolutely no offense meant. I’ve never been to South America and I’m sure they keep the delicious ones for themselves!! Berlin is such a sad case as these are the only mangoes you can get unless you know which time of year to go to the Indian or Asian food stores. European summertime is when the Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani mangoes ripen and are available in (obviously) the Bengali, Indian or Pakistani groceries dotted all over east London.
Now back to Cambodia. Here you seem to get mangoes all year round (bliss 🙂 )!! Ripe and delicious and sweet. Here are some pics of the varieties I’ve tried so far.
Svai Lahuat in Khmer. Sweet and bright orange inside. They seem to available all year round here in Cambodia!
BELOW: Svai porm on the left, svai lahuat in the middle and svai Thai on the right. The sweetest is the svai Thai. Svai porm is by far the most aromatic but also fibrous. Svai lahuat varies from very sweet to sometimes not so sweet. The svai porm I’ve never seen in the market. I nicked this one from someones tree. 🙂
Here’s an amazing looking fruit that I picked up on the Thai side of the Poipet border coming back from Bangkok. They are the size of cherries and taste nothing like them. In fact cherries taste mush better (if they’re not pumped full of chemicals) in my opinion. But these look just astounding!!
They are called Sa’ree in Khmer. Haven’t a clue in English. They are juicy with a bit of crunch, have a hint of sweet and a hint of sour. I ate them with the traditional salt and chilli mix you get with all sour fruits here. In fact I was rather disappointed with the taste. I expected something much more spectacular because of it’s beauty!!
So, my blogging posts have become sparse whilst my life hasn’t really become busier, but my mind is somewhat pre-occupied with the events of my life. And there is one shocking event from the past week that has left me almost speechless and very angry. I will write a post about this in the near future once I have digested this real life happening! – Click here to read more as I’ve posted about this event now!!
Now back to the my beloved fruits of Asia!! I’m not a fan of custard because we were forced to eat it in primary school (in London of course-for those of you who haven’t read the ‘about me’ section of my blog, I didn’t grow up in Bangladesh!) And I eat the occasional apple but also a pretty boring fruit in my world. So how about the custard apple (thee’up in Khmer). Nothing like custard or apples (haha!) It looks very similar to a cherimoya (and tastes the same to my taste buds) that I’ve ate many times back in Europe. I’ve just done some online research and they are from the same family. Some say they are the same fruit with a different name but the cherimoya has different skin to the custard apple from my experience. A cherimoya has skin that surrounds the flesh in one piece. When you cut it the skin stays in one piece. This description may be a bit strange but I don’t know how else to word it. The custard apple has skin that is thick and comes off in segments. You can see the segments in the pictures below. The taste is extremely sweet and the texture creamy and slightly grainy. I love this fruit. Easy to eat-meaning easy to peel with your bare hands and actually quite filling as a fruit. The fruit flesh comes in segments too surrounding a hard black seed. They are the size of a medium sized apple.
You can see below the the skin and fruit flesh segments coming apart with ease!!
This is a strange fruit I picked up at the market a couple of days ago. I first tried this when I was here last year. I’ve never seen it before I came to Cambodia. It’s called a “See-daa (សុីដ ា)” in Khmer.
The texture inside is very dry rather than juicy. It is extremely sweet and the flesh is soft. It also has a very distinct aroma/smell when it is ripe. There is one large stone in the centre of the fruit.I bought some last week at the market and the woman charged me 1000 riels (4000 riels makes 1US $) per fruit (which is expensive for here and I had a feeling she overcharged me as a foreigner-I hate that!) I thought she meant per kilo, otherwise I would’ve picked the largest fruits.
Two days ago I bought the same fruit again from a different stall-and she charged me 1500 riels for 2. So with joy I bought four of the largest she had.
I’ve ate two and don’t feel like any more now-they are so damn sweet. I got over excited at thinking I was getting a bargain. (I often get over excited buying food! ) I’ll go and buy a blender tomorrow and see if I can make an ice smoothie drink out of it. Otherwise they’ll go bad. And I always have a little guilt feeling when I let good food go bad. That’s another story I’ll go into at some point in the future.
Oh in case you’re wondering why I love to cook and don’t have a blender? I have only been here in Siem Reap, Cambodia 2 1/2 months now. I’ve only just rented this room I live in since 1 1/2 months. So I’m building up a new kitchen from scratch (for the umpteenth time).
And I LOVE buying new kitchen stuff (like my mum).
Oh I forgot the name (I’m terrible with names) of the fruit. I’ll add the name tomorrow.
Note added 17th September 2012:
This fruit is called an egg fruit, canistel or yellow sapote. I found the English name by chance on a Cambodian fruit poster at the clinic I attended with dengue fever.