Summer always brings with it the promise of juicy, sweet mangoes, while the monsoon seems to herald the retiring of the mangoes, and the introduction of litchis, peaches and plums.
But real mango aficionados know a little rain doesn’t mean the end of their mango supply. According to the National Horticulture Board, India cultivates over 1,500 varieties of the fruit. Try these delicious mangoes that are in their prime during June, July, even August.
Season: Mid-July to August
This variety of mango is cultivated in the northwestern parts of India and Pakistan. Langra aam orignates from Banaras and has a very interesting origin story. In an interview with NDTV Food, veteran mango cultivator Padma Shri Haji Kalimullah Khan shared the story of how this variety of mangoes got its name a few hundred years ago. “My Mamu Saab told me that around 250-300 years back, there lived a lame man in Banaras who ate a mango and planted the seed in his home ground. This lame farmer was known as langra by his peers and friends in a village in Banaras. The fruits from this tree were sweet and fleshy. Over a period of time this variety became famous as the ‘langra’ variety.”
Season: June to July
Another popular variety, in 2011 the Gir Kesar received the distinction of a GI (Geographical Indicator) tag (GI no.185) from the Geographical Indication’s Registry in Chennai. Also known as the Queen of Mangoes, its first cultivar was grown by Junagadh Wazir Sale Bhai in 1931 in Vanthali. Thereafter, around 75 grafts of this variety were grown in the foothills of mountain Girnar located at the Junagadh Laal Dori farm. In 1934, the Nawab of Junagadh Muhammad Mahabat Khan III gave it’s name. He remarked upon the lovely orange flesh of the fruit and said, “This is Kesar.”
Season: June to July
This ‘chusne wala aam’ brings up the image of kids running around with mango in hand, enjoying India’s favourite fruit. Originally from Uttar Pradesh, these mangoes are reportedly one of the oldest mango varieties in the country. Dasheri mangoes can be traced back to the Nawab of Lucknow’s gardens in the 18th century. Nowadays they are widely grown in the Malihabad belt, 30km from Lucknow.
Season: June to July
Easily identifiable with its parrot beak-like shape at the tip, which gives its name ‘Totapuri’. Grown in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana and Tamil Nadu, this mango is not overly sweet and is widely used in mass-produced mango products in India. Totapuri was also widely imported. In 1901, it was sent to Florida as Sandersha and in the 1960s as Totapuri. It is reportedly the parent of at least two Florida mango cultivars, Anderson and Brooks.
Season: July to August
This bright yellow variety of aam was a favourite of Sher Shah Suri. In the 1500s, Suri commemorated his victory over Humayun in Chausa, Bihar. He decided to give his favourite mango the same name as the town. Commonly, the fruit is grown in Pakistan and Northern India and is known to be juicy, sweet and almost without fibres.
A new Japanese variety in India’s Madhya Pradesh
A couple in Madhya Pradesh is growing the world’s most expensive mangoes, the Japanese Miyazaki. Rani and Sankalp Parihar planted two mango saplings years ago. Little did they know these were of the rare Japanese Miyazaki. Miyazaki is also known as ‘The Egg of the Sun’ and the Japanese kind will set you back by approximately ₹3-4 lakhs/kg.
According to the farmer couple, last year, thieves broke into their orchards and stole the mangoes after it became locally known that they started growing this rare fruit. This year, the Parihars decided to employ four guards and six dogs to protect the remaining trees and seven mangoes.
According to Hindustan Times, Parihar was on his way to Chennai to buy some saplings when he met a man on a train who offered him what later turned out to be Miyazaki. “He offered these saplings to me and asked to take care of these plants like our babies. We planted in the orchard without knowing what variety of mangoes it will produce”.
Many people have already shown interest in buying these rare delicacies. Reportedly, a businessman is ready to pay ₹21,000 per mango. The growers, however, are not selling the mangoes yet, instead they have decided to use the fruits to grow more Miyazaki plants.
The reason for the exorbitant price tag is the care that goes into growing them. Japanese farmers wrap each mango in a small net, letting sunlight in, giving the fruit a uniform, ruby-red colour. The mango is not manually picked but allowed to fall when ready.
Monsoon specials While the Parihars’ Miyazaki mangoes may not be available for us to try yet, all the talk surrounding mangoes can make one’s mouth water.