Covering the courtyard of my ancestral home at Thalassery stands a huge old mango tree. Proud and tall, it produces baskets of delicious country papaya mangoes (also called popai ambo in Konkani and kappa manga or ko manga in Malayalam) invariably every year. During the ripening season which coincides with the summer holidays, we children used to run to the base of the tree as soon as we woke up to pick up the luscious sweet mangoes. Papaya mangoes contain a lot of fiber and are so tasty that they can be eaten together with the skin. The trees usually bloom in December. Large bunches of creamy white blossoms adorn the tree, spreading the fragrance of baby mangoes all around the place.
Many years ago, one morning, my dear late father and I were standing under the tree. Pointing out those beautiful flower-laden branches, my father said, “When I was quite small, I would watch my mother pluck some flowers from these very branches for the kitchen. In the evening, she would serve us paej (rice gruel) with mango blossoms chutney. It was so delicious that my mouth salivates as I relive those memories.”. Seeing the expression of nostalgic delight on my face, I unconsciously filed away a note in my memory. Today, I plucked a few bunches of blossoms from our young mango tree – I am lucky my husband has planted mango trees all over our land – and made some chutney!
It turned out absolutely delicious, with the flavor of the mango blossoms perfectly complimenting the tanginess of the tamarind and the goodness of the coconut.
We had a simple, but sumptuous traditional supper of paej (unpolished par-boiled rice gruel) with ambya phulla chutney (mango blossom chutney) accompanied by kadgi chakko (tender jackfruit side dish), kadgi podi (deep-fried tender jackfruit chips), papodu (papad), mirsange appolu (chili papad), chandrabale (or rakthabale, red banana), odis (deep-fried, sun-dried spicy rice balls), and a lick of acerola cherry pickle.
Here is the marvelous mango blossom chutney recipe. You can make it in just 5 minutes. Enjoy!