Aaya vasant Aaya Vasant – (Spring is here, Spring is here)

Update for week ended 18 February 2011

The buzzing bees over my head distracted me. Where did they come from, I wondered. The buzzing and constant zigzagging around me was annoying, but the fresh scent in the air calmed me quite a bit. The inflorescence at the end of the bottle green boughs was such a familiar sight. The yellowish green flowers with hints of pink already had little green berries at some stalk ends, among them. The acidic scent of the fruit was heady – the “mangolings” were bursting out of their stalks. The little berry sized fruits were abundantly dangling in bunches, some only pea sized, while others were marble sized. The bees were busy buzzing and pollinating more flowers so that they fruit. The classical sign of spring in the air! The baby mangoes are at times used by Indian households to make savoury pickles. These are usually soaked in brine, let to mature and shrivel and used throughout the year to perk up a bland meal of curd and rice or dry rotis, with the sharp acid and lip-smacking saltiness. Some people prefer it spiced up with hot chillies and hotter mustard. These are fondly called “ambiyas” in the north and “kanni maanga” in the south. And kids go running into mango orchards and gingerly tread the grounds below the trees, to pick up the dropped ambiyas or kanni maanga and collect them into their scooped-around shirts or blouses. They take these home to their mothers who crush them with a few green chillies and salt and serve it up with the evening paratha or roti or dosai. So lip-smackingly tasty. Except for the stingy sap of the fresh mangoes that can at times “burn” the skin of the mouth, lips and skin around the mouth – apart from leaving the spicy after-taste.

The mango trees lining D street had flowered and started fruiting this week. So D Boyz jumped up in joy as they collected their “ambiyas” (or their favourite stocks) and pushed the SENSEX up 400 odd points. They rushed home to their mothers and wives who added more green (chillies) to the mangoes and crushed them to chillies on a flat chutney grinding stone (flat SENSEX on Day 3) and the tasty chutney served up to the Boyz sent them into another bout of ecstasy on day 4 (200 odd points up). But after too much, they had a bad case of tongue scalding, and the burns caused them to push the SENSEX down some 295 points – ending the week of mango chutney eating with the SENSEX at 18211.

The good thing of these little ambiyas/kanni maangas, is that you can eat them whole, seeds included. There are no nut-hard seeds or seed endocarps to tackle and no mango fibre to get unstuck from teeth. In case you have not tried them, head to the nearest park that has a mango tree – pick the little green fruit, run home and indulge! Believe me, it is fun!

Have a nice and safe weekend. And do share with me your experiences of mango “fruitling” huntings.



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