Ingredient SpotLight

Mangos originated in East India, Burma and the Andaman Islands bordering the Bay of Bengal. Around the 5th century B.C., Buddhist monks are believed to have introduced the mango to Malaysia and eastern Asia - legend has it that Buddha found tranquility and repose in a mango grove. Persian traders took the mango into the middle east and Africa, from there the Portuguese brought it to Brazil and the West Indies. Mango cultivars arrived in Florida in the 1830's and in California in the 1880's.

The Mango tree plays a sacred role in India; it is a symbol of love and some believe that the Mango tree can grant wishes. In the Hindu culture hanging fresh mango leaves outside the front door during Ponggol (Hindu New Year) and Deepavali is considered a blessing to the house. Mango leaves are used at weddings to ensure the couple bear plenty of children (though it is only the birth of the male child that is celebrated - again by hanging mango leaves outside the house). In India, a certain shade of yellow dye was attained by feeding cattle small amounts of mango leaves and harvesting their urine. Of course as stated above, this is a contraindicated practice, since mango leaves are toxic and cattle are sacred. It has since been outlawed.

What hasn't been outlawed is enjoying mangoes in a wide variety of dishes. Since people don't often use them, take this as a great opportunity to acquaint yourself with this fantastic fruit.

Mango Salsa

  • 3 ripe mangoes, pitted and cubed
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 tablespoon red onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper (optional), seeded and minced

To pit a mango, place it stem side up with the narrow side facing you. Make a vertical lice starting at 1/4" to the right of the stem. Repeat on the other side. Lightly score the flesh of the mango into diamonds. Buckle the skin, pushing the flesh outward so that it resembles a porcupine. Slice off the cubes. Combine all ingredients. Let stand for 10 minutes. Toss before serving. Serve with grilled fish, chicken or pork.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Mango Sherbet

  • 1 envelope (1 tablespoon) unflavored gelatin
  • 3 cups sieved mango puree
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice

Sprinkle the gelatin on 1/3 cup cold water, then dissolve, stirring, over low heat. Cool. Mix mango puree, sugar, lime juice and gelatin. Chill until the mixture is syrupy. Beat until light and fluffy. Serve with whipped cream, or ice cream.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes, plus chilling time

Mango Bread

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups diced mango
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Sift dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Make a well and add remaining ingredients. Mix until well blended. Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan and let stand 20 minutes. Bake at 350° for about 1 hour, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.

  • Yields: 1 loaf bread
  • Preparation Time: 90 minutes