Have you ever tasted a really fresh, ripe mango? Like one that literally fell off the tree because it was READY, and not picked while still green. If you haven’t, I dare you to come to Florida in late May/early June and try it. Otherwise you must know what I’m talking about.
It’s mango season right now, so every other person is trying to pawn off their extras – “You like mangos? No? Here, have half a dozen of mine. Give them to your neighbor!” Except that I love mangos and I would probably even take theirs on top of the ones I already have.
I grew up in Germany, so the mangos we got there were so green, hard, and flavorless that I never really developed an interest in them. They were also crazy expensive – no 5 for $5 there. No roadside, back-of-the-truck sales, no mango trees. We had other good stuff like fresh, sweet plums in the fall, but this is not a who’s got the better fruit competition. Fast forward several years and now here I am in sunny South Florida, with not one, but two mango trees in my own backyard. And those trees are getting happier every year. Especially the big one (don’t ask me what variety because I have no idea. There are over 100 different ones!).
Fresh mangos are delicious and called the King of Fruits for a reason: They fight cancer, alkalize the body, aid in weight loss, regulate diabetes, help digestion, clean your skin, and are the way better choice for a 100-calorie snack (1 cup has 105 kcal). They may taste super sweet, but actually have a low glycemic index, meaning they don’t raise blood sugar levels that quickly. Mangos are also rich in iron which is a great natural solution for people suffering from anemia.
Last year I actually reached a point where I didn’t want to see another mango. Maybe that’s because I only ate them either fresh or baked in mango muffins. So I froze the rest and used them in smoothies. Thawed mangos get pretty mushy but still just as tasty.
Tip for freezing: cut your mango in chunks and spread on a baking sheet. Once they’re frozen, transfer to a ziplock bag or other container. That way you don’t end up with one huge chunk of frozen mango mass. I’m speaking from experience here…
This year I’m looking for different ways to use our mangos and have come up with two winners so far:
First: dehydrated mango “chips”
Thinly slice the mango (with this tool) and spread on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dehydrate on 150 degrees F for 12 hours and store in an airtight container. They turn out a little chewy but super sweet! You can take this even further and sprinkle some cayenne on them before baking, but go easy at first.
My latest mango concoction was inspired by the Indian dessert “shrikhand”: a sweet dish made from strained yogurt, sweetener and spices.
Mango shrikhand (or amrakhand) is really simple to make so give it a try.
I didn’t have the tools or patience to strain my yogurt, so I took a shortcut and bought Greek strained yogurt as this kind is already super thick. #timesaver
Some original recipes called for cardamom and saffron but I wanted to keep it simple and do just cardamom for now. Saffron is also a little pricey, so I went the cheaper route.
Cardamom is an amazing spice, so you should definitely get some for your kitchen. It’s also really good in baked goods: I was introduced to “Kardamom Bulle” during our trip to Sweden. It’s also a prominent spice in Chai tea, so you may be more familiar with it than you think.
Cardamom is called the Queen of Spices (ha! – paired here with the King of Fruits! And then they had a baby and called it “Amrakhand”!) :o)
OK, so in all seriousness though: cardamom actually has some great health benefits: studies have shown it to be cancer preventive and heart protective. It can improve blood circulation and kill harmful H. pylori bacteria. It’s been used to treat dental diseases, urinary tract infections, ease gastrointestinal disorders, and cure gonorrhea and impotency.
As a spice, cardamom is extremely versatile, and is used all over the world in sweet and savory recipes. You can buy it already ground, but the entire pod, opened to release the tiny black seeds inside for fresh grinding, offers the most intense, spicy-sweet, and completely unique flavor.
Here are the ingredients needed for 6 servings of mango shrikhand:
2 fresh mangos (about 2 cups pureed)
1.5 cups plain Greek yogurt (full fat or 2%)
2 tsp ground cardamom
3-4 tbsp honey (optional)
Cut the mangos and put them in your food processor or blender:
Add the puree to the strained yogurt and add the cardamom. Stir gently to mix. Have a taste and see if the sweetness is where you want it to be. If not, add some honey until it’s just right.
It’s best to chill it for an hour or so to let the flavors blend a little, but if you can’t wait, then just dig in.
I added chopped almonds, but you can leave that off. Or try some coconut flakes. Or some more mango 😉