NEW DELHI (Bernama) — It is summer time in India now with temperatures hovering between 42 and 45 degrees Celsius, good enough to drive away Indians in droves to highland resorts and overseas to cool down.
And here summer also marks the start of the fruit season. In every corner of the city and residential areas, fruit stalls have been mushrooming in spite of the scorching heat that keep people indoors.
Now fruits can be found in abundance, in their natural form or in desserts and cocktail menus and even as fresh fruit juice to quench the thirst under the hot sun.
If durian is the king of fruits in Malaysia, in India the honour goes to the mangoes.
The mangoes here not only differ in their shape, size and colour but also in their taste when compared with the mangoes available in Malaysia.
THE KING OF THE KINGS
I learnt that the “Alphonso” and “Bangnapali” are the kings of mangoes in India.
“Alphonso” known as “Hapoo” among locals is the most expensive variety of all mangoes in India. Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka are the prime producers of this mango.
Outside it is light orange in colour and inside it has a fibreless pulp. Locals crave for its smooth-creamy taste.
Meanwhile, the smooth yellow skinned “Banganapalli” is sweet and fibreless. It is the most popular of mangoes coming from Andhra Pradesh and few other Southern states of India.
“Dasehri” is another mango variety in India and tastes like thick sweet syrup. Uttar Pradesh is the largest producer of this mango variety.
GETTING THE RIGHT MANGOES
With the myriad of mangoes available here, one has to know the right mangoes to pick.
Like in Malaysia, if you happen to be a durian aficionado, you have to know how to choose the right fruit. Malaysians are well aware that durians from the southern states and northern states differ in taste, shape and size, and in their price as well.
In Malaysia, the Musang King, durian tembaga and D-24 are among the popular varieties where durian aficionados are willing to pay extra to savour the fruit.
The same goes to mangoes here where its season starts in early March and ends in July and there are more than 200 variants to choose from.
The traders at a local market here have taught me some tricks in choosing the right mango, with the most important one to avoid buying during the early part or tail end of the fruit season.
I found that the prices vary from one part of the city to another and people here conduct a random survey on the prices and the fruits before making a purchase.
Like in Malaysia, the same fruits could cost 30 to 40 per cent higher in premier shopping complexes.
As traders do not display price tags here, bargaining could be tricky. Added with my poor command in Hindi and the fact that I’m not a local, I often end up paying more.
The normal variant costs about 100 to 150 rupees per kilo (RM6.00 to RM8.00) and I bought some for my immediate neighbours and friends in show of the true Malaysian hospitality.
Locals here are not buying much in anticipation of the prices dropping further as low as 50 to 70 rupees (RM3.00 to RM3.50) per kg in the next few weeks before the tail end of the season starts.
I recall back in Malaysia, I used to buy much poor quality mangoes between RM14 and RM16 per kilo.
INDIAN MANGOES GO AS FAR AS MIDDLE-EAST AND EUROPE
The popularity of the tantalizing Indian mangoes go as far as the Middle East and Europe.
United Kingdom (UK) remains the top importer of the fruit.
For the record, mangoes from India were banned for nearly a year in Europe after fruit flies were found in mango consignments but the ban was lifted recently.
While the lifting of the ban provides a big relief for the Alphonso mango growers in the Konkan district in Maharastra whose output were affected by the poor weather in March, local consumers have to put up with less supply and higher prices of the mango.
Fruit sellers said last year, they sold a dozen of medium sized “Alphonso” for about 500 rupees (about RM30) per kilogram and now it is going for about 700 rupees (RM42) to 800 rupees (RM48).
They pointed out further at the start of the season in mid-March the same mangoes were sold for 1,200 rupees (RM65), a hefty price for the common man.
So if you are heading to any of the Indian cities in next two months, make sure you don’t miss this king of Indian fruits.