Mango on the Double <3


Summers in India meant fun filled times! The school would be shut for nearly 2 month long break and holidays were full of activities!

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My mother’s parents lived in Bombay itself, so we would stay with them for some days. Many folks from my mother’s side of the family have their birthdays in May (including me) and we all would have one cake amongst us to celebrate. 2 of my older cousins,my youngest aunt and me-all may babies would be blessed together by all!

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Being an only child I used to wait for summers to arrive and vacations to commence because my favourite cousins would come all the way from Nagpur to Bombay.That was the only time my loneliness as an only child would disappear! And my mami (Maternal Uncle’s wife) and cousins would land in Bombay a day before my birthday. The first thing she would ask me was “Moti (I was 10lbs at birth and hence nicknamed Chubby fat baby by her lovingly!), “what would you like me to make for your birthday?” For years my reply was a request to make Chinese Hakka Noodles and Hot-Sour soup! If given a choice, I would still request her for the same! She is one of the greatest culinary giants in my life! Her personality in general has an amazonic influence on my personality! (Hmm, may be she should be one of my feature Inspire US, what say? :P)

As we grew, all of us (me and my cousins) became very busy with studies and life in general. I still loved them dearly but the distance and lack of personal interaction drifted us away.

Thanks to technology though we are connected well in spite of living in three different countries (US, India & Australia). The youngest of us is Dha (4 years younger) while me and Wik (my cousin brother) are of exactly the same age. Like childhood, we still gang up against Dha by keeping silly secrets from her (As silly as we ate chicken together etc.)

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My cousin Wik hated mangoes (weird, right?). Me and his younger sis Dha would pounce upon the opportunity for him to turn down a wedge of mango or glass full of mango milkshake and share it amongst ourselves!

Yes, one more reason  why I loved summer’s back home was we could enjoy unlimited Alphanso mangoes! The emperor variety amongst the king of fruits!

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My Aai (mother) would make her special Mango Ice cream for us and serve it in style with Mango Milkshake in one of the fancy tall glasses. The tall glasses were not very common in late 80’s. And these were one of those rare times when food/drinks would be served (read: allowed) inside the bedroom where we made a huge tent house out of quilts and sheets (And what not!). My grandma’s bedroom had an A.C then so we used to feel very exclusive about ourselves. It made us feel so special.

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Back then, such things really mattered to the kids. With so much technology and random wealth (read: luxury as necessity became easy) finer things have lost their value, don’t you think? A box full of mangoes made me happier than a new gadget or new necklace. My grandparents would give me 10 INR as a birthday gift and I was still happy. Happiness seemed more real and meaningful.

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I see the change in and around me. Some things I like,some I have to accept but there are those I just don’t come to terms with. I feel our needs have gone from this to that and wants have no bounds. Most of our problems arise out of such complicated expectations from and of life. I sometimes feel stuck with my idealistic ways and wish to change.  Perhaps I lack enough determination to accept ideals have no reason to survive out of Bible or Geeta. The only logical question is would the change be acceptable to the pseudo (kiss blown in air environment) environment? Perhaps ,only time can tell.

After tall nostalgia comes the simple version of “Mango Milkshake with Home-made Saffron Mango Ice-cream”.

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Ingredients: (3-4 cups of Mango Milkshake)

  • 3-4 scoops of Mango Saffron Ice-cream.
  • 1.5cup milk (1% organic milk is perfect. I tried making it with almond milk, but boys did not like it. I would not recommend it either J)

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  • 1/4th cup of mango pulp (home made or store bought) or 1 whole Alphanso mango cubed.
  • 1-2 tsps. Vanilla essence. (Vanilla essence accentuates the flavours better. That’s the reason all the cake and cookie recipes have Vanilla listed in them. It helps kick the basic flavor of a fruit or just elevate the richness of the flavours. Try it! Mom’s additions never go wrong!)
  • A great blender!
  • Sugar if required.

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Method:

  • Fill in all the ingredients in the blender pot and blend.
  • Once it is frothy add a scoop of ice cream and serve J

Eating mangoes and delicacies made of mangoes would be the highlight. I think it was more about eating them together that made it special. Today, in US we have mangoes all round the year but never feel like eating them anymore. I miss you my wonderful cousins L

I m reminded of an old gazal (a distinct variety of light music) by Jagjit Singh that sums up the essence of childhood and makes one feel the lack of life in youth. The simple joys of innocence that one misses in the adulthood that an adult would give away everything including his youth to get his childhood back.

“ye daulat bhii le lo, ye shoharat bhii le lo
bhale chhiin lo mujhase merii javaanii
magar mujhako lautaa do bachapan kaa saavan
vo kaagaz kii kashtii, vo baarish kaa paanii” 

Perhaps a sip of my childhood memory might take you back to your own childhood! Enjoy the ride into nostalgia!

Mango Saffron Ice Cream :)


Okay, I m super energetic today! Is the diet finally working? Perhaps, yes! I m doing something right!

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On 19th May this week, I turned a year wiser and decided to honour my son’s wish of a home-made Mango-Saffron ice cream. Now since I did not have the gadgets to make the ice cream, I followed my Aai’s (mother makes the best pound cake, mango and coffee ice creams in the whole wild world) traditional recipe and added a Mediterranean twist of flavours with saffron strands in it. Something old and something new-a recipe has a tale to tell! J

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If you are looking for an instant ice-cream recipe, this is not it! This one demands you to be patient and perseverant.

 Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of milk (1% or 2% gives as good results as whole milk)
  • 3-4 tbsp. custard powder (vanilla)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla essence (optional, it just gives an oomph to the flavor)
  • 4-6 tbsps. Sugar/honey. (I was out of honey so used regular white sugar. One fyi, this is not a very sweet ice cream. So in case you like yours to be very sweet, taste the thickened milk prepared after mango pulp is added.)
  • Hearty pinches of saffron.
  • 10 tbsps. Mango pulp (You can make your own pulp with very little sugar. I get mine from my husband’s mom. She makes this pulp out of homegrown organic alphonso mangoes, lucky me right? :P).There are other varieties of mangoes,but nothing beats the Alphonsos. Many Indian stores carry fresh ones during April-May every year and you can make your own pureé /pulp at home.This puree can be frozen for upto a year.Sharing pictures from our backyard in (Nagpur) India showcasing the beloved Mango goodness!

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Method:

  • Take a saucepan and boil the milk. Keep stirring it often to avoid burning.

(I did it while my son was glued to a barney series, got really all the time to do it!)

  • Take few tablespoons of milk in a cup and warm it in the microwave. Add the custard powder to the cup and stir. Add the saffron strands to this yellow mix. Don’t let it set.
  • Reduce the milk to 3/4th quantity and add the custard powder mixture to it.
  • Mix thoroughly and continue to boil it.
  • Add sugar/honey to it once all the custard powder mixture dissolves in it. The milk solution created must not have any lumps or crystals.
  • Microwave the mango pulp for 20 seconds and turn it into the saucepan of milk.If you are using the mango pulp (amras) from the tin, then make sure you don’t microwave it. Add it as is to the saucepan.

Stir continuously. This is a tiring process, ask your partners to offer help. Mine was in the safety of his office:P.

Once this starts to thicken spoon the mixture into bowls. As they cool down, you can sit for a while J It took about 15-20 minutes for the custard to completely cool down. I kept it into the freezer. After an hour (while its still not completely set) or so take it out and turn a fork through it. My mother always did it. It helped in breaking any lumps or crystals formed encouraging the ice cream to turn very light and creamy.

3-4 hours later, Voilà the ice cream of dreams was ready!! Since on a diet (already at some on Sunday) I only tasted it!

Looking at my son eat was such a priceless moment! He really enjoyed every bite of Mango Saffron ice cream. Hope you enjoy this simple recipe from my mother’s book along with your loved ones.

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Enjoy the spring! The perfect bite of mango and saffron just melts into your mouth! The texture is smooth and has a sense of that motherly earthiness to it! This is one treat that you could enjoy and make with your family.Perfect activity for a good long weekend! Happy Memorial Day!