If you don’t happen to live in a tropical paradise, sometimes you go to the grocery store with a desperate desire for mangoes, and there is nothing resembling a ripe mango to be found — there may be canned mango (good for making mango fluff, my daughter’s favorite dessert), or even frozen mangoes (which are decent in smoothies), but the fresh mangoes either aren’t there at all, or look very unlikely to ripen into anything delicious.
But what you CAN do, if they happen to have green mango (whether still unpeeled or already cut up), is cook green mango curry, which is sweet and fruity and coconut creamy, with just a hint of spice. It is not a small consolation.
(Note: I was tired and didn’t feel like chopping garlic and ginger, so I used two tablespoons from a jar of ginger-garlic paste, a staple around here, and thankfully now available in my local grocery store, so I don’t have to trek out to the Indian neighborhood the way I used to. Not as good as fresh — I wouldn’t use it if I were serving guests. But it’s fine for just me.)
Green Mango Curry / Maankai Kari
(30 minutes, serves 6)
This dish can be traced as far back as the fifth century, when it was served at the court of King Kasyapa of Sigiriya (famed for his luxurious Sky Palace).
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
3 small onions, minced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp. ginger, chopped
3 tsp. black mustard seed
2 stalks curry leaves
3 green chilies, chopped
3 Tbsp. vinegar
3 tsp. Sri Lankan curry powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
3 large green mangoes, peeled and cut into long, thick pieces
1 can coconut milk
½ cup water
1 Tbsp. sugar
1. Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onion, garlic, ginger, mustard seeds, curry leaves, and chilies until the onions are soft.
2. Add the vinegar, curry powder, cinnamon, salt, and half a can of coconut milk with ½ cup water—stir to combine.
3. Add the mango slices, bring to a boil, and simmer until the mango is just tender, about ten minutes.
4. Add the rest of the coconut milk and sugar to the curry; bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for about five minutes. The gravy should be thick enough to thoroughly coat the mango. Serve hot with rice or bread.