The Foodie’s Guide to Summer in Bongland
Walking back from home, i decided to stop for a while at a juice kiosk, to rescue me from the killer heat. Seeing half ripe mangoes on display, i could not help control my temptation to feast upon a few of them. Although sour, the first mangoes of the season bore a magical taste – entwined with memories of childhood. And right then, i knew what i would be posting on my blog tonight.
At my native place, we had a huge garden (bhetor barir uthon) with a large variety of trees to be found. Mango, Jackfruit, Pineapple, Litchi, custard apple, Banana, guava – you name it and you have it. By the end of February, the whole uthon would be filled with mukul (NO! Not our honourable Railway Minister, mukul means buds) of mango. The smell of unripe mangoes would fill the air by end of March and once summer vacations started at school, a month long feast of “makha” would start.
Aam Makha – A Quick Recipe
Buy semi ripe mangoes (the greater the level of sourness, the better). Grate them. Add aam kasundi (a special type of mustard sauce), chopped green chillies (the more the merrier), salt and sugar in equal amounts (to taste), turmeric powder, red chilly powder (if you want to add to the S [spicy] quotient). Mix all of them (NO! Not with spoon, Use your hands, silly) and ATTACK!!!
P.S. For any “makha” you need to follow the same procedure.
Aam Makha (i have no clue what the correct translation should be, i will settle for chutney) is the quintessential part of a Bong “dessert” (if i may say so, it is something we eat after a meal, generally lunch), but is not sweet. As i write about aam makha, my salivary glands are overworked and demand extra pay (in kind of course). But we seldom stopped at mango. Bel, aamra, chalta, aata, jamrul, kaalo jam, lichu, peyara, kamranga – we made makha of them all.
As a kid, having spent my entire childhood in a joint family, in the company of Didis, my digestive system was always overworked. Not just savouring the delicious makhas, but hunting around the paaraa (neighbourhood) searching for fruits, stealing them stealthily and returning home with victors delight -kids these days miss out on REAL fun. An expedition for kuul churi will demand a separate post altogether.
When i shifted to Kolkata seven years ago, the expeditions and the plethora of makhas came to an end. Summer in Kolkata bore a different meaning altogether. Aam pora shorbot, mango shake outside Coffee House and umpteen glasses of “lebu jol” would define a day in hot summer afternoon in Kolkata.
And now, sitting in Bangalore, grilled in the heat, all i can do is reminisce those days.