Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Mangos, Chutney and Salsa

Could Mangos be the next 'superfood'? Mangos have been in the news recently as researchers at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) have found that Mangos have properties that can help regulate blood sugar levels in a positive way as well as have anti-inflammatory properties.

Mangoes are native to India and South East Asia and are the national fruit of India, Pakistan and the Philippines. There are well over 100 varieties, ranging in size from a large fist to a rugby ball. Shapes, skin and flesh colours also vary. The Alphonso Mango (named for Alphonso de Albuquerque – a nobleman and military expert who helped establish the Portuguese colony in India) is becoming increasingly popular in the UK with top chefs including it in their menus. However the Mango first came to our shores in a different form - in the 17th century, Mangoes were shipped to England as pickles to preserve them as the fruits would not keep during the long sea voyages. By the 18th century, the word "mango" had become a verb meaning "to pickle".

Mangoes are widely used in Indian cuisine and British colonials often brought recipes for chutneys home with them - Mrs Beeton includes a 'Bengal Recipe for Making Mango Chutney' in her 1861 book of household management in which she says “This recipe was given by a native to an English lady, who had long been a resident in India, and who, since her return to her native country, has become quite celebrated among her friends for the excellence of this Eastern relish.”

In the 19th century types of chutney such as Major Grey's were created for Western tastes and shipped to Europe. Major Grey is an elusive character but Crosse & Blackwell (founded in 1706), reported that he was an officer in the Bengal Lancers and was something of a food connoisseur. While in India, he or his Bengali cook created this chutney by combining mangoes, raisins, chilies, garlic, vinegar, sugar and spices. Crosse & Blackwell purchased the Major's formula and the rest is history.

I have a recipe which uses Mangoes which hails from a completely different continent: Mango Salsa - it's excellent as a topping for Halibut. Salsas originated in Central and South America in pre-Columbian times with the Aztec, Incan and and Mayan cuisines. They were made from a mixture of tomatoes with chili peppers and ground squash seeds. The Aztecs used it as a condiment, to be eaten alongside turkey, venison, lobster, and fish. The Spaniards introduced salsas to Europe after their conquest of Mexico and it was Alonso de Molina who first gave the name ‘salsa’ to the mixture, in 1571.

The sea-faring Portuguese introduced the Mango to Brazil in the 1700s. Mangoes arrived in Mexico in the early 19th century and reached the USA in 1860. Mexico is now the largest exporter of mangoes in the world. 

Mango Salsa

2 fresh mangoes
1 red onion
1 orange bell pepper
4 red jalapeños
pinch of salt
1 tsp cumin
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1 orange
A big handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Peel the mangoes and slice into small pieces. Dice the onions very finely. Remove the seeds from the orange bell pepper and jalapeños and dice very finely. Mix the lime and orange juices together with the salt, cumin and chopped cilantro. Mix all the ingredients together and serve over the halibut.

Wine Pairing

A good white Bordeaux will be lovely with this dish – Chateau Le Rondailh is an excellent match as it is an aromatic wine with good acidity made from a 20% Semillon and 80% Sauvignon Blanc blend of grapes. Full of character, pure, fresh and well balanced, it has flavours of ripe pears, lemon, lime flowers and red gooseberries with subtle nuances of melon, minerality and passion fruit.


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