What’s your favorite fruit? Ask around and you’ll get a different answer almost every time.
For some, apples are the best. They can be crunchy, sweet, and stimulating. For some, it’s grapes—seedless red generally win over their seeded green cousins. Who can say no to strawberries? Though you should consider yourself lucky to find a sweet-tasting one. How about bananas? They’re a staple fruit—just like rice, they’re almost everywhere! A Google search on the most consumed fruits in the U.S. declared oranges as #1. No one can question the delicious taste of freshly-squeezed orange juice from your local H-E-B store! But this article is about a fruit that is featured at #15 on that Google list!
Ask anyone (well, almost anyone) in India about their favorite fruit, and there’s only one answer—mangoes!
Mangoes have been grown in India for over 5,000 years, and there are 1,500 varieties of them! Yet, there is one clear king that rules the list—Alphonso mangoes.
Known as the “King of Mangoes” for their flavor and texture, Alphonso mangoes were introduced to India by the Portuguese military strategist Afonso de Albuquerque, who explored the region and helped establish a Portuguese colony in western India during the 15th century. Alphonso mangoes have very specific soil and weather requirements, so they are mostly grown in one or two states in India and are available only between the months of April and June.
Alphonso mangoes are small, egg-shaped, and weigh between 5–10 ounces. The aroma of Alphonso mangoes is very intense due to high levels of myrcene—a kind of terpenoid, which are the naturally occurring chemicals in plants responsible for flavor and aroma. They have a sharply sweet flavor along with more mellow tropical flavors. The flesh is non-fibrous with a smooth texture, unlike some mango varieties.
Alphonso mangoes can be consumed whole, discarding the small flat and oblong seed inside. You may also cut them into small pieces and add them to salads for color and taste. The pureed version has multiple uses.
The average cost of mangoes (in the U.S.) is between $1–3. The average cost of an Alphonso mango, due to its limited availability, increased worldwide demand, and the need to go through clearance, is between $8–10. Alphonso mangoes gained popularity in the United Kingdom after they were shipped to London for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.
Alphonso mango pulp is often available in a can at local Indian grocery shops like Himalayas and Ali Baba on Wurzbach Road. You can use the pulp to create delicious recipes like mango lassi, mango kulfi, and mango shakes!
Indeed, Alphonso mangoes are a fruit fit to be king, yet enjoyed by one and all!