By Mayabhushan Nagvenkar
Panaji–The much-vaunted Alphonso is still considered the “king of mangoes” in India, but in Goa, the locals still prefer the more-rooted Mancurado variety, according to executive chef at the Taj Fort Aguada Resort and Spa Hrudananda Behera, who is anchoring the ongoing mango festival at the five-star resort.
“Alphonso is considered to be among the most superior variety of the fruit in terms of sweetness, richness and flavour. Totapuri and langada are mildly sweet in flavour. When it comes to home-grown varieties, mancurado is preferred by the locals as the texture is thick and has a sweet and juicy pulp,” Behera told IANS on the sidelines of the event.
The mango festival has special relevance for the hotel , considering that the mango is a major fruit crop in the coastal state otherwise known for its mouthwatering seafood and tongue-singeing pork and beef delicacies.
“We introduced the mango festival as the mango is considered a major fruit crop in Goa, has a high demand and exists in a large number and variety. The fruit has a distinct flavor and can be aptly combined with a variety of dishes,” Behera said, adding that three varieties, including the Alphonso, Mancurado and Totapuri, are being featured at the festival.
“Among these, Mancurado is a locally-grown variety that we use in our dishes,” he said. The Mancurado is one of the most sought after varieties in Goa and fetches the most price, beating even the Alphonso when it comes to value in the state’s fruit market. The mango is unique to Goa and having a Mancurado mango tree in one’s yard is considered a matter of pride for the home owner,” Behera said.
But its more indigenous fan following is no match for the global craze which the alphonso has triggered over the years, especially the Devgad and the Ratnagiri varieties.
Behera also explained the logic behind the overwhelming deference to the Alphonso in the mango universe, considering that it ticks most boxes in a mango connoeiseur’s wishlist.
“Alphonso has an intensely rich flavor. Its creamy texture has minimal fiber and a bright orange golden hue. Alphonso also has a unique sweet aroma which is very distinctive from other variety of mangoes,” the executive chef said.
Mangoes, in general, according to Behera, are great for health, especially when eaten in season.
“Mangoes, when eaten in any form, are a rich source of nutrition. The fruit has a very high fiber content which helps to keep the stomach healthy and contains a healthy dose of vitamins which prove beneficial for eyes, skin and improving memory,” he said.
For mango lovers the festival offers unique and signature dishes like the Totapuri mango shrikhand, classic hung curd infused with mango flavor, king alphonso cheese cake which is a mango cheese cake filled with nuts and alphonso angoori rabadi — soft cottage cheese dumplings in mango-flavoured rabadi.