A Delectable Mango Treat

A meticulously researched book with startling facts, interesting anecdotes, and historical events surrounding the ‘king of fruits’

This book is a delicious literary treat for all mango people (aam aadami). Renowned author Sopan Joshi’s journalistic eye for detail is evident on every page of Mangifera indica: A Biography of the Mango. In India, irrespective of your social standing, the mango, especially the fruit and leaves hold a very special place in our culture, traditions, and day-to-day lives. No wonder the royal households of maharajahs, nawabs, and even the Queen of England were smitten by the sweet aroma and unforgettable taste of the Indian mangoes.

In this book, Joshi peels the layers of the mango mania and lets the readers savour the sweet memories, anecdotes, unique traditions, science, history, and geography around the Indian mangoes.

The influence of the Mughal dynasty and Portuguese horticulture techniques on mango orchards is commendable and worth reading. Many people are unaware of the ancient travelling mango kitchens of coastal Andhra Pradesh or the tradition of Maharashtrian brides going back to their maternal homes during mango season (mahervashin). The author touches on the coveted place of the mango in our festivals, religious rituals, ancient literature, and social networking skills. No gift comes close to a fine pack of choicest ‘mangoes.’

There are interesting facts as to how the famous Desai Bandhu Ambewale from Pune, sent the best hand-plucked mangoes from their orchards in Ratnagiri to former prime ministers Indira Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Hindustani classical music maestro Bhimsen Joshi, superstar Amitabh Bachchan, cricketer MS Dhoni and other celebs to name a few. Mandar Desai, the great-grandson of the Desai Bandhu Ambewale shares interesting anecdotes with the author about mangoes and famous personalities. “Indira Gandhi used to call people coming from Pune to Delhi to bring her our mangoes.” Every year, on the day of Akshay Tritiya, the famous Dagadusheth Halwai Ganesh temple in Pune is decorated with 11,000 choicest mangoes from Desai Ambewale. The mangoes are later donated to the needy and for a novel cause the next day.

The author mentions in detail how the network of mango orchard owners, growers, traders, distributors, and consumers works way before the mango season starts. Be it the treasured Mankurad (aka Mancurad) from Goa, the famous Alphonso from Ratnagiri, Devgadh’s hapus amba or the sweet Kesar from Gujarat and the succulent Dashehri, and dozens of others, every mango has a story of its own firmly grounded in the local soil and legends. A perfect read for the aam aadami!

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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