6 Creative Ways to Enjoy Mangoes
I was lying underneath my mosquito net one morning in Ghana when I heard a small tap on my window. I sat up and looked out, but no one was there.
So I lied back down. It was over 40 (105 F) degrees and everyone in the village was trying to do as much nothing as possible.
But then I heard the tap again in rapid succession. Tap, tap, tap.
Suddenly, a roar of children’s voices rang outside.
When I went out I saw five children standing underneath the belly of a big green tree beside my house. They each took turns throwing rocks into its leafy abyss, desperately aiming at some unknown target.
A young boy with red shorts took aim at the tree like a major-league baseball player and then launched his rock at the tree. Thunk. Something large and solid hit the ground with a thud and the children began to shout in celebration.
The same boy cut open the mango and gave out small pieces to each child. With his arm outstretched, he offered a small slice to me.
I was shocked. Stunned. My mouth exploded with a sweetness that was unparalleled to any fresh fruit I tried before. Was this same fruit I passively ignored for 23 years in the Midwestern United States?
This was not the same mere flavoring that I had encountered before. These mangoes were succulent and bursting with a sticky fresh sweetness that didn’t weigh you down like sugar or soft drinks.
I now understood the young children’s – and the rest of the world’s – affection for mangoes. Drinks, snacks, or full blown meals, there is no limit for how these countries use mangoes in their everyday meals. Spanning from the Caribbean to India and even the Pacific Islands, here are a few recipes that showcase some of the best ways to incorporate mangoes!
Thailand: Mango Sticky Rice
Sticky rice can be used as a side dish, or even a dessert as it is commonly served in South East Asia during April and May. What’s “sticky rice”? It’s slightly sweetened rice that is made “sticky” by the added sugar. While most summer desserts favor coldness to beat the heat, mango sticky rice is served at lukewarm or room temperature. It’s easy to find this delicacy in Cambodia, Indonesia, and Laos, but it is thought to have originated from Thailand. Surprise your friends with this easy yet memorable dish at a cook out this summer!
- ½ cup jasmine or basmati rice
- ½ cup water
- 1 (14 oz) can coconut milk
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 sliced mango
- Cook rice according to directions using half of the coconut milk, ½ cup water, and ¼ cup of sugar. When finished the rice will be very dry.
- Using a separate sauce pan, boil the rest of the coconut milk with the second half of the sugar.
- Keep the mixture at a boil until it becomes a thick sauce.
- Use the ½ cup measure to create small mounds of the rice.
- Pour an even amount of the syrup on all the rice mounds.
- Add the sliced mangoes and enjoy!
Senegal: Summer Rolls
History begets food. During the First Indochina War many Vietnamese citizens moved to Senegal to seek refuge from the war. An unlikely combination of Africa and Asia are molded together to create a truly unique dish: the Senegalese Summer Roll. It’s one part West African, and one part South East Asian; taking a clear inspiration from the traditional Vietnamese Summer Roll. However, it’s accents are clearly African by incorporating peanut sauce and fresh mangoes.
- 2 medium eggplants
- Olive oil, for brushing
- 16 (8 inch) round rice paper wrappers
- 1 bunch mint, leaves only
- 1 bunch basil, leaves only
- 1 bunch cilantro, leaves only
- 1 mango, sliced
- 1 cucumber, sliced length wise into 6 pieces
- 3 scallions, cut length wise into 2-inch pieces
- 1 carrot, peeled and grated
- 1 head lettuce, leaves separated
- Cut the eggplant into ½-inch slices. Brush the slices with olive oil and grill until cooked through, about 3-5 minutes each side. Slice into four long pieces.
- Place a clean, damp paper towel over a plate. Fill a large bowl with warm water.
- Immerse the wrapper into the water for 5 to 10 seconds, until it is pliable. Lay the wrapper on the damp towel.
- Add a few mint, basil, and cilantro leaves onto the wrapper.
- Add a few slices of the mango, grilled eggplant, cucumber, scallion, and a large pinch of the carrot. Be careful to not overfill the wrapper.
- To roll the wrapper, fold in the left and right sides over the filling. Take one side and roll it tightly away from you, top to bottom, like a cigar. Repeat with he remaining wrappers and filling.
- Serve with lettuce leaves and peanut sauce!
- ¾ smooth peanut butter
- 1 T grated ginger
- 2 T water
- 3 T honey
- 1 T lime juice
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1 t fish sauce
- 1 t tamarind paste
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ t sesame oil
- ½ t cayenne pepper
- Combine all ingredients in bowl and mix well
Honduras: Mango Avocado Salad
Is it a salsa or a salad? Who knows. And who cares. This menage of salty and sweet has a lot of competing flavors, but it somehow just works. You’ll find this paired with tortilla chips at parties and as a snack at local bars in Honduras and across the Latin World. Want to try your hand at an easy recipe? This one is easy: no cooking and done in under twenty minutes!
- 1 mango, peeled and diced
- 2 avocados, peeled and chopped
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Combine all the ingredients together in a bowl.
- Mix well and let sit for about 20 minutes.
- Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy
Vanuatu: Mango Ice Cream
Vanu-what? This ice cream comes from an archipelago in the Pacific islands located a few hundred miles east of Australia. But this ice-cream transcends borders. Remember the mango ice-cream from my hometown that no one ever ate? This is clearly not the same box-flavored stuff. This ice cream uses real mangoes, which are in abundance on the many shores of Vanu-ah-too.
- 1 cup mango pulp
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 1 (14 oz) can unsweetened condensed milk
- 4 eggs
- 1 T lemon juice
- A pinch of salt
- Heat the milk and turn off the heat just before it starts boiling.
- Beat the eggs and the sugar, slowly adding the hot milk while beating.
- Add condensed milk, mango pulp, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Mix well.
- Let cool and refrigerate for 12 hours. Put ice cream maker bowl in the freezer at this time also.
- After 12 hours, place the mixture into the frozen ice cream maker bowl. Turn on the ice cream maker for 20 minutes.
- Place the mixture out of the maker into the freezer for 30 minutes before serving.
India: Mango Kulfi
First things first: kulfi is not ice cream. While it is a frozen dairy dessert, it’s creamier and more dense than traditional ice cream. Kind of like a frozen custard. This dessert is sold on street carts in India by kulfiwalas, literally “kulfi sellers” and often comes in a form similar to a Popsicle. The most common flavors are pistachio, rose, and mango. Garnishes include cardamon, pistachio, and dried seasonal fruit, but it’s most popular on its own.
- 2.5 cups milk
- 2.5 cups mango puree (4 large mangos blended)
- ¼ or ½ cup sugar (depends on sweetness of mangoes)
- 5 green cardamon crushed
- A pinch of saffron
- 15 unsalted pistachios, blanched, peeled, and sliced
- 3 T evaporated milk
- 3 T rice flour dissolved in 3 T of the milk
- (Optional) rose syrup
- Put saffron and milk in pan. Heat on a low flame, but don’t boil.
- Add sugar, stirring until dissolved.
- Dissolve the rice flour in 3 T milk.
- Add rice flour mix to the milk, saffron, sugar mixture. Keep stirring so that no lumps are formed.
- Continue to cook until the mixture thickens. Turn off flame.
- Add evaporated milk. Stir and let the mixture cool.
- Add mango puree and sliced pistachios. Mix well.
- Pour the mixture into serving bowls. Freeze for 8-10 hours.
- Serve cold with rose syrup.
Philippines: Mango Float
Now we are back where we started: South East Asia. In the islands of the Philippines this dessert is a classic for birthday parties and celebrations. What is it exactly? It’s akin to tiramisù but made with fresh mangoes and sweet bread. This is another easy recipe to try as there is no baking involved. Just assemble, refrigerate for a few hours, and serve.
- 3 mangoes
- 2.5 cups double cream
- 1 (14 oz) can condensed milk
- 1 t vanilla extract
- 16 individual baked sponge cakes or graham crackers
- 1 medium size tray
- Peel the mangoes. Slice into thin layers.
- Slice the sponge cakes in half. (Skip if using graham crackers)
- Mix the double cream and condensed milk in a large bowl. Make sure the mixture is well blended.
- Start layering the sponge cakes on the bottom of the tray. Make sure they are evenly spaced. Pour ¼ of the mixture on top of the sponge cakes. Add a layer of sliced mangoes on top of the mixture and sponge cakes.
- Add another ¼ of the mixture on the mangoes. Add another layer of sponge cakes.
- Add a layer of mango slices. Add a layer of sponge cake.
- Add the rest of the mixture. Add the remaining mangoes on top.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
- Serve chilled!