One of the finest of ripe mango curries is the Konkani ambya umman / humman. Since time immemorial, huge mango trees have been growing all over the plains, foothills and plateaus of India. In summer, these trees produce luscious mangoes in great abundance, shedding the ripe fruit every day on the ground. The birds, squirrels and bats feed to their hearts content but they are able to polish off only a portion of the bounty, leaving the rest for humans to enjoy.
These wild mangoes (called goyante ambo in Konkani) unlike the hybrid commercial cultivars, are generally smaller in size, have fibrous pulp and pack a punch in terms of flavor. It is these wild mangoes that the Konkani people love to turn into delicious, lip smacking ambya umman.
Some of the smallest varieties are just a trifle bigger than a lime, have thinner skin, are lemon yellow inside and have indefatigable flavor. Alas! Man’s greed for valuable timber has resulted in the loss of a great many of these centuries old patriarchs among mango trees.
We have four mid-sized mango trees producing popay ambo (called papaya manga or ko manga in Malayalam) on our land. They are medium sized, thick-skinned, fragrant, sweet and tangy mangoes with plenty of fiber in their flesh. This time, I have used these marvellous country mangoes to make lip-smacking ripe mango curry. These country mangoes are quite healthy and are among the best to make mango squash, mango jam, mango candy, mango pickles, whole mangoes in brine, as well as scrumptious mango curries. It is only when the country mangoes are unavailable that I use the larger, fiberless hybrid mangoes to make ambya umman. The sight of country / wild mango trees always awaken in me, nostalgic childhood memories of groups of children pelting stones to down ripe mangoes, and sucking on them with the rich juice running down our chins and fingers.
This sweet mango curry is served as a dessert in most Konkani feasts during the mango season. Even little children can be seen joyously tucking away 5 or 6 mangoes at a sitting. I am sure you too will love ambya umman.
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