Guest post by Big Apple Curry inspiration Geetha who lives in Toronto, is my mom, and makes what we consider the best South Indian dishes!
For me, summer in North America means that mango season has arrived. In today’s supermarkets, there are very few fruits and vegetables we can’t get all year round, but mangoes hold a special place for me. They take me back decades to my childhood in South India, when my mother would make a savory rice dish with raw green mangoes. In the southern Indian state of Karnataka, our family tradition was to make Green Mango Rice for Ugadi (New Year’s Day for us, which usually falls in March or April every year). To me, the dish signified the freshness of spring and summer fruits and vegetables, and the beginning of a brand new year. What made this dish even more special is the mangoes were freshly picked from our farm. Signature dishes like tamarind rice and lemon rice are a daily staple in South India, combining tempered whole spices like mustard seeds with ground turmeric, coconut, steamed rice, and something sour like tamarind, lemon, or in this case, green mangoes. The result is a satisfying blend of sweet, smoky, sour, and spicy flavors.
Rather than the reddish-green mangoes that you may be used to eating (plump and ripe with orange colored flesh inside), green mangos used in Indian and Thai dishes are completely green, unripened, hard to the touch, and sour in taste; they are routinely used in pickles, chutneys, and savory main dishes like this one. As a mango ripens, the skin changes color, and the flesh begins to sweeten — once the ripening starts, it happens very quickly! When choosing a mango in your supermarket, look for one that is green and very firm — it should not be soft to the touch. For this reason, try and make this dish the same day you buy the green mango, so you catch it before it starts to ripen. For this dish to work, it needs to be sour. TIP: always cook the green mango on a low flame, stirring gently until the pieces are al dente, or just cooked. To me, this rice dish is perfect alongside a simple raita.
Green Mango Rice
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon channa daal (optional)
- 1 teaspoon urad daal (optional)
- 1 large green mango (not ripe), peeled and diced
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cooked basmati rice
- 1 tablespoon shredded or ground unsweetened coconut
- 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, finely chopped (for garnish before serving)
- Heat canola oil and mustard seeds in a wide, non-stick skillet on a medium-low flame, with a tightly fitted lid.
- The mustard seeds will start to pop lightly. Listen carefully, and as soon as the popping stops, add channa daal and urad daal if you’re using them (don’t worry, they are optional, and the dish tastes great with or without them). Add cumin seeds, and mix well.
- Add diced mango and gently mix. Add turmeric, cayenne, and salt. Sauté on low heat for about 10 minutes until mango is al dente (not mushy or overcooked, this is key). Add cooked basmati rice and unsweetened coconut, and combine well.
- Top with fresh finely chopped cilantro.