A Mango Lassi Just for You; compliments of India!

For the uninitiated, a lassi is a delicious yogurt-based chilled drink hailing from the Punjab region of India.

Lassis come two ways, sweet or salty, and are popular throughout India and Pakistan. Lucky for us, lassis are beginning to take hold here in the United States!  Why the luck?  Because lassis are so delicious!!

Sweet lassis are made with and without fruit, and in the “with fruit” category, mango lassis are the most popular. Makes sense to me!

There is no ONE WAY to make a mango lassi, so experiment!  Below are some suggested core mango lassi recipes to start with.  Remember that Greek yogurt is strained and will produce a thicker mango lassi; regular plain yogurt will make for a thinner lassi.  You’ll need less ice to produce a quintessentially cool, refreshing mango lassi if you begin with mangoes or mango pulp that have been refrigerated.  This is my preference because I tend to prefer more robust flavors (less ice).  And experimenting with different textured sweeteners like honey, stevia, demerara sugar, or turbinadosugar is really the only way to see what you like best.   When you find the combination that suits you best, serve it up for any spring or summer gathering.

As for aesthetics, I would serve my guests mango lassis in footed glasses garnished with mint leaves or saffron strands. Mango slices placed on the sides of the glasses might be nice too.  I tend to prefer organic looking serving pieces, but you might prefer a more traditional porcelain tray.  Whatever you choose, the light-orange-colored lassis will be beautiful!

In all the below recipes, place the ingredients in a blender and blend until frothy and smooth.  Serve and enjoy immediately!  Mango pieces should come from ripe, skinned mangoes.  If you can’t get ripe mangoes, try mango pulp!  If you can’t find mango pulp at your local grocer, try Amazon or India Blend, both of whom will deliver all the mango pulp you could ever need right to your doorstep.

Mango Lassi – Version 1

  • mango pieces from 2 RIPE mangoes
  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup ice

Mango Lassi – Version 2

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup ripe mango pieces
  • 4 teaspoons sugar, to taste
  • A dash of ground cardamom

Mango Lassi – Version 3

  • 2 part plain yogurt
  • 1 part milk
  • 1 part canned mango pulp OR  1 1/2 parts fresh mango pieces
  • sweeten to taste

Mango Lassi, Version 4

  • 3½ fl oz cream
  • 7fl oz whole milk
  • 14fl oz plain yogurt
  • 14fl oz mango pulp
  • 4 tsp superfine sugar

And lastly, if you are interested in mango lassis, you might be interested in other types of Indian cuisine.  India Blend has a great selection of hard-to-find ingredients delivered to your doorstep!

Chocolate Dipped Mango Orchids. Need I Say More?

I was trolling around on certain sites dedicated to chocolate not sure what I expected to find….I was *just trolling*. I know you know how that is.

Then I got the daft idea to search for mango in die-hard chocolate territory. And boy was I grossly overcompensated for the folly! What surely promised to be an irrelevant search yielding “no results” turned up a bona fide Mango Nugget replete with a full set of bragging rights.

You already know what I found: Chocolate Dipped Mango Orchids.
iconI quickly learned that an accomplished chocolatier in San Francisco, Mindy Fong, had both the good sense and brilliance to create these dreamy and oh-so-edible creatures. And it gets better. I had plans to be in San Francisco the following week! So I called Mindy and we arranged a chocolate covered mango orchid pow-wow. I was actually going to get to taste the orchids that would tempt ANY foodie.  How’s that you say?  For starters, the mangoes used in Mindy’s orchids hail from the island of Cebu in the Philippines; many a mango authority find them to be the finest, sweetest mangoes available anywhere.

The big day arrived and I confess I began to wonder whether or not I would like the taste as much as I admired the creativity and presentation of the orchids. After all, I’m a milk-chocolate kind of gal and Mindy’s mango orchids are dipped in *bittersweet* chocolate. How would the sweet mango slices fare when teamed up with the dark side?

Let it be said that Mindy Fong knows her flavors. Mindy grew up eating mangoes and she knew *exactly* what to do: Mindy chose to pair her mango orchids with a fruity, 55% bittersweet chocolate…a complementary, pitch-perfect choice! I’ve *Never Ever* had a treat quite like these orchids and I’m guessing this also applies to most everyone I know. This brings me to my next, seemingly unrelated point. (bear with me here…)

I have an agreement with my girlfriends, Mom, Dad & siblings that we don’t buy gifts for each other. Why? Not only do we all have what we need, but it’s next to impossible to find something really unique that reflects the love and affection we feel for each other. On special occasions, we simply opt to spend quality time together. But for the first time in years, I feel compelled to send gifts to my beloved cohorts! (chocolate dipped mango orchid gifts!)

Compared to other hip and respectable gift possibilities, a mango orchid or mango orchid bouquet expenditure is quite affordable. And the delight derived from sending (and undoubtedly receiving) such an unexpected, delicious, and beautiful treat is off the charts!

If you too would like to indulge and/or be indulged with a mango orchid bouqueticon or single mango orchidicon be forewarned: go down the mango orchid gift path and your gift-giving reputation will forevermore be firmly set somewhere in the stratosphere. You may very likely NOT be able to outdo yourself as a gift-giver. They are *that* good. The folks running THE chocolate site in question make it all the easier by offering free ground shipping on most $70+ orders. Happy chocolate dipped mango orchid eating!

p.s. I should add that since I originally wrote this post, Mindy has added chocolate dipped mangoes in boxes to her lineup – in addition to the orchids. These are perfect for those folks who really want them as a regular snack (heavenly snack) as opposed to the orchids, which are best for gifts.

p.s.s. And one more thing..search the whole chocolate.com site for “mango” b/c a lot of new chocolate mango products have been added… making the $70 for free shipping will be easy, easy, easy…

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Costco Gets Mango Labeling Just Right!!!

In an earlier post, I praised Whole Foods for an instance of superb mango labeling;  now I must also give similar praise to Costco!

As a quick backgrounder on the issue, I am an advocate of more thorough labeling of mangoes in supermarkets.  This is because:   1)  There is a great difference in taste and quality between different varieties of mangoes and 2)  Some mango varieties can be difficult to discern from one another.  Essentially, many consumers have a hard time selecting a good mango.

In a perfect mango world, the stickers on mangoes would indicate the VARIETY.  That way, consumers would merely have to learn the name of the tasty varieties and then when at the supermarket, avoid the rest.  In most of the stores I visit, mango labeling is not helpful to buyers.

So today, Costco gets its own set of labeling points.  Here’s what went down at my location.   Costco received a rather large shipment of mangoes and was selling them by the box, which is a typical arrangement for many of the fruits they carry.  The mangoes themselves contained standard labeling BUT the box labeling couldn’t have been better! Look! Full disclosure: Kent Mangoes! Superb all around! The vast majority of the shipment contained Kent mangoes, a variety of which I greatly approve! A smaller portion of the shipment contained Tommy Atkins mangoes, of which I DON’T approve. (Unfortunately, I’ve yet to see a big food retailer that doesn’t, at some point, offer Tommy mangoes.) The trick as a consumer is to AVOID them!

When you visit your Costco and see fantastic mango labeling such as this, tell the manager!  Pass on the mango labeling love!!  Great job Costco — and if I have my way, retailers will eventually stop carrying Tommy Atkins mangoes. Bleck! 🙂

To read further about mango varieties, see this series:

Late Winter / Early Spring Means Only One Thing. The Kents are coming! The Kents are coming!

If you don’t already know how I feel about Kent mangoes, check it out here. That out of the way, keep reading!! If you happen to be perusing this post in February or March, then GREAT because I’m here to tell you to keep your eyes open at the market because Kents are starting to show up and naturally Whole Foods is on top of the mango opportunity.

And not that this post is about organics, BUT one thing I like about Whole Foods is for some reason, they do the best job of stocking organic mangoes of any market.  Once in a blue moon, I’ll see them at Trader Joe’s, but Whole Foods, bless its exorbitantly expensive heart, often stocks organic mangoes.  And sometimes, I’ll even see Organic Fair Trade mangoes there.  Most recently, I saw a beautiful batch of Organic Fair Trade Kents at Whole Foods and was really pleased with the quality.  Another time I found some Fair Trade Haitian mangoes, which thrilled me so much, I wrote a whole post about it.

Check out this label, which I HIGHLY APPROVE of.  I just peeled this off the beautiful Kent I bought.  We’ve got the country of origin, Peru.  And the variety, Kent.  And it’s organic.  And it’s Fair Trade, which deserves an entire post of its own as it applies to mangoes.  Another day, another day…

Anyway, late winter, early spring is when the mango run here in the non-tropical states of the USA begins.  Start your engines, folks. We have mango liftoff!

 

How to Cut a Mango (i.e. How to Remove the Blasted Clingy Seed)

Before I was a maven, I confess I was tentative on buying a lot of mangoes because they are clingstone fruits. As one might surmise, “clingstones” have stones which cannot be easily removed from the flesh. Said another way: The flesh is attached strongly to the blasted stone/seed/pit and must be cut away from the blasted stone/seed/pit. Said yet another way: This takes more time/effort in the kitchen than I have the patience for.

Then wha-la! The gates of Heaven opened and I found the tool that changed my mango life forever:  A mango pitter!!!!   You simply must, must, must have one. (I’ve seen hoity-toity culinary types post videos on how to cut a mango with just a knife. It’s all horse-pucky and I’ll tell you why in a minute)

To start, cut the ends off of the mango.  This step is essential for perfectly ripe mangoes, which tend to be on the softer side. (Trying to slice through tough skin will sometimes demand a degree of pressure which can begin to crush a really ripe mango. Having a little flesh showing eases the process.)

Cut End of the Mango for an Easy Start

Press down firmly!

 

 

Look how lovely!

 

First slice in one direction…

And then slice in the opposite direction…

 

Flip it inside out and …..beautiful!

When you’re all done!

When you’re all done slicing off the cubes, this skin look like this…

About the hoity-toities and mangoes…

The mango pitter is shaped exactly like the seed, and cuts as close AROUND the seed as possible. Has anyone ever seen a knife with a rounded blade? Nope. So you’re either throwing away good fruit that’s still on the seed OR spending time trimming the flesh off the seed. 🙁

A mango pitter, on the other hand, leaves a little flesh on the seed, (enough for significant others to slurp on) but is, in most cases, extremely efficient. There is one exception: Manila mangoes. Manila mangoes have smaller seeds than other varieties of mangoes, so the pitter leaves a good deal more flesh on the seed. So in this instance, I still use the pitter, but take a few seconds to slice more flesh off of the seed – with a knife just like the hoity-toities. The superb taste of the Manila mango is more than worth the trouble. The other exception to efficiency I’ve seen with this pitter is that seeds from really largeTommy Atkins mangoes are a hair too big and the pitter gets stuck mid-cut. In reality, you shouldn’t be buying Tommy Atkins mangoes ANYWAY, so in my mind, the pitter is still a 10/10.

Now for the extra tip that makes it all worthwhile. What to do with the mango skins and your morning coffee grinds? There has never been so easy an answer. Check out the kitchen workhorse of a compost bin a few pics below. My husband is an engineer and by definition, frugal. There are not many purchases that he gloats over, but this is one of them. It’s big enough to last for a couple of day’s worth of refuse, has a charcoal filter (think ODOR FREE), and cleans up beautifully.

Stainless 1 Gallon Compost Bin

I’ve had mine for a couple of years now and use it daily. I like my counters clear of “things” for easier wiping, so I stow mine under the sink.

Mangoes and banana peels headed for a new life…

 

 

Shazam! Neat, tidy, and a friend to the environment!

 

I bought both my mango pitter and compost bin at Williams-Sonoma. Other retailers carry mango pitters, but not THIS beautiful mango-colored mango pitter – it’s exclusive to Williams-Sonoma. For instance, some retailers carry a white version, but I confess (yet again) I have a strong preference for the hoity-toity mango-colored Williams-Sonoma version.  Okay, so it’s true…I may appreciate hoity-toity things and persons more than I initially let on.  Happy mango slicing!

 

Mango Pickles, Mango Gummies, and Other Mango Delights

Your dedicated Mango Maven is here in beautiful California while the owner of Indian Blend, Lisa, is all the way across the country in Georgia.  We’re 3,000 miles apart, but I tell you what:  We’ve both got mangoes on our minds!  I’m always on the hunt for interesting mango products and boy did I find a goldmine at IndianBlend.com, an online specialty retailer of Indian foods.

Lisa grew up in South Florida with a mango tree in her backyard…maybe that’s what inspired her.  Or maybe Indian Blend’s great mango product selection can be ascribed to Lisa’s love of dried mango.  Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that THE International Mango Festival is held every year in India AND mangoes are India’s national fruit.

Translation:  Indians know a fine bit about mangoes and love them even more than that.  Translation 2:  Indian grocery stores feature more mango products than we’re accustomed to seeing at typical US supermarkets. Were it not for businesses like Indian Blend, I would say the average American could potentially be in danger of being deprived of the international mango product experience.  But in reality, we’re lucky little mango fiends who can access mango products online to our hearts’ delight!

Here are some tidbits I gathered from Lisa about Indian Blend.  I thought all of you Internet shopping aficionados out there would be interested to know that Indian Blend….

  • Has been in business for seven years
  • Ships their products from Georgia
  • Offers free shipping on orders over $80
  • Carries dozens upon dozens of mango food products

And I couldn’t help asking Lisa a few other things about Indian Blend like…

  • What is Indian Blend’s most unique mango product?  Turns out it’s fresh mango leaves!  (used for religious purposes)
  • What is Indian Blend’s most popular kids’ product?  Lisa claims it’s the Cocoaland Mango Gummies BUT I think they absolutely qualify for an appropriate adult treat as well.  Sheesh!  Lisa and I may have to agree to disagree on this one!
  • What are Indian Blend’s most popular mango products overall?   Lisa listed the following mango product all-stars:

mango gummies

mango leaves

mango juices

mango pickles

dried mangoes and more dried mangoes

Anyway…  If you’re like me, you’ll have to judge for yourself the selection of mango products at Indian Blend.  And when you get there, tell Lisa I sent you.  I just might need the PR after raising mango cane over the aforementioned gummies.  🙂

Mango Margaritas – Summer’s Best for Foodies gone Naughty

All that I can say is…if you mess up mango margaritas after leveraging what’s in this humdinger of post…then I don’t know what, but it’s not good.

For the margarita mix lovers out there, I have two cool finds.

First the Margarita Collection from Williams-Sonoma. Customers rate it 4.8 out of 5.0 stars and the triple pack comes with pineapple, lemon-lime, and MANGO!!!!!  🙂

And then, for my low-calorie-hound readers, check out BajaBob.com and his wildly popular mango margarita mix. A cool 4.7 out of 5.0 stars and ZERO calories. Yes, you heard it from the Maven first.

Then I dug around for some nifty glasses that I thought would look GREAT with tropical-colored mango margaritas and found a few. The way I see it, Sears and Williams-Sonoma have your mango margarita glass fannies covered.

Now time for a few recipe ideas.  I’m sure all of you margarita fiends out there can take a quick gander at the ideas below and see what will suite your palate the best!  And it *should go* without saying but…don’t forget the lime garnish, nor the salt or sugar for the rims. And uh, yes, the below ingredients are blended.  😉

Version 1

10 oz bag of frozen diced mango
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2/3 cup tequila – preferably silver
2 tablespoons Cointreau or other orange liqueur
2 tablespoons superfine sugar
2 cups ice water

Version 2

2 (1.5 fluid ounce) jiggers tequila
1 (1.5 fluid ounce) jigger triple sec liqueur
1 (1.5 fluid ounce) jigger fresh lime juice
1 mango (see how to make cool little mango pieces)
4 ice cubes
1/4 cup mango nectar

Version 3

3 ounces silver tequila
1 1/2 ounces triple sec
2 to 2 1/2 cups ice
2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup or 2 teaspoons sugar
4 ounces fresh or frozen mango pieces (use more ice if you choose to use fresh mango)

Version 4

1 1/4 ounces silver tequila
1 ounce triple sec
1 1/2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 ounces simple syrup or sweet-and-sour mix
3/4 cup partially frozen mango

Now for the margarita machines/blenders by Margaritaville – aren’t they the coolest? And even more importantly, they’ve got SUPERB CUSTOMER RATINGS. Nothing but the best for my mango fans. Now you might not need the King Kong of the lot, but then again you just might. Because mango lovers = carousers.

Whatever or however you pass your summer, be sure to give a little time to the almighty mango margarita. They’re not so very naughty, after all.

Holy Haitian Mango, Batman!

This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series Mango Varieties in US Markets

Look what I found!!  I tell you folks, these babies from Haiti were monstrous!  And not only that, the whole lot of them were beautiful, clean and undamaged. What a TREAT!

In an earlier post, I covered the Ataulfo mango, and I’ll give it to you – the Haitian mango looks an awful lot like an Ataulfo. But it isn’t.

The Haitian mango (also known as the Francine mango or the Madame Francis mango) is – as you can see- a fair degree heftier than its friend, the Ataulfo mango. They do share that wonderful, buttery smooth flesh with the Ataulfos, though, and that is why I’m a huge fan!!!!

The Haitian mangoes have just a six-to-eight week season, so you have to watch carefully for them in late spring. The mangoes I purchased were part of Whole Foods’ Fair Trade program. In the case of Haiti, Whole Foods is the sole buyer of Certified Organic mangoes from small Haitian growers – sometimes buying from individuals or families with just a single tree!

I’m guessing the Haitians were really thrilled to get some solid export dollars for their mangoes – and I for one was happy to do my part as a consumer.

Hurray for Haitian mangoes!

Oh, and one more thing – when I brought my Haitian mangoes home, they were still greenish – yellow. I let them ripen in my pantry until they were bright yellow with little wrinkles.  Bottom line, never be afraid to bring home a green mango!

Series Navigation

Kents and More KentsHaden Mangoes Revisited

Mango Sorbet (Gluttony Justified)

In an earlier post, I promised to share a dairy-free alternative to Haagen-Dazs’ ever-de’lish mango ice cream.  Here it is.

Turns out, I’ve come across TWO amazing choices:  Mango Sorbet by Haagen-Dazs and Mango Sorbet by Trader Joe’s.  Each is a little different, so let me provide a quick overview.  BOTH are amazingly tasty (like A+ tasty) and I heartily recommend either.  (But really, I can’t imagine a vendor messing up mango sorbet, can you?) So it’s down to a matter of preference about which to bring home and proudly call your own.

YUMMMMMMMY!

The Haagen-Dazs selection tastes more quintessentially dessert-y, compared to the Trader Joe’s version. I guess the best way to put it is that the Haagen-Dazs version is a little sweeter than the Trader Joe’s product – the texture might be slightly smoother as well.  I would describe it as being a step closer in likeness to ice-cream, but without the dairy of course.

ALSO YUMMMMMY!

The Trader Joe’s Mango Sorbet tastes more like actual fresh frozen pureed mangoes.  It’s also darker in color.  Ounce per ounce, the Trader Joe’s Mango Sorbet is somewhat less expensive than the Haagen-Dazs offering as well. I found myself wanting to switch back and forth, because each is so good.  It’s definitely a case of Different but Equal !

Bottom line: If you’re going for a more natural fresh fruit taste, try the Trader Joe’s Mango Sorbet.  If you have a sweet tooth, opt for the Haagen-Dazs Mango Sorbet.  But remember this is sorbet not ice cream –  so it’s not THAT sweet!

Oh and one more thing….

Bottom line #2:  From a practical standpoint, the Trader Joe’s  container is about 2x the size/volume of the Haagen-Dazs container.  So…families might find the Trader Joe’s sorbet a better fit for their needs, while singles might prefer the smaller portioned Haagen-Dazs option.  Just a thought!

Happy Sorbeting!

Healthy Snack Idea for Mango Lovers

In this post, my friends, is a totally unexpected mango food find. Here’s how *it* happened.

My husband and I were planning a trip to Yosemite, and I took on the food supply prep job. On my hubby’s list of food needs were Cliff Bars. He was planning a long hike to Clouds Rest from Tenaya Lake and needed some portable fuel. He wanted some fruity options, but I soon discovered the Cliff Bar selection was somewhat limited. (at least where I shopped that day)

But the store did have these (new to me) Kind Bars in seemingly appealing fruity flavors. So in addition to a couple of Cliff Bars, I bought a couple of Kind Bars. One had cranberry and the other one – I can’t remember exactly what it was – fruit and nut something or the other.

The day of the Clouds Rest hike came, and the big breakfast and packed lunch wound up being sufficient fuel for my significant other, the mountain goat. So back down the trail and into my home pantry went the Cliff Bars and the Kind Bars, but not before he snapped a picture of this delightful little marmot on the journey.

A couple of weeks later *I* decided to go on a local hike near our house and grabbed the Kind Bars for my own enjoyment and fuel. Now normally, this category of bar leaves something to be desired on either the taste or texture front – and historically I’ve avoided them for exactly those reasons. But these Kind Bars were strangely addictive and tasty – like something I would eat *anytime* not just on a hike out of necessity.

I wondered, are the Kind people really *all that kind?* In other words, do they make a MANGO Kind bar?

YES, THE ANSWER IS YES!!! THEY DO!!! And it’s called “MANGO MACADAMIA.”

But would it taste as good as the two I ate on my hike?

AND YES, THE ANSWER IS YES!!! IT DID!!!

And there’s more.  Mango Macadamia is wheat free/gluten free/dairy free, has 3gs of fiber and 20% DV of calcium.  Plus, it’s sweetened with honey and non GMO glucose and contains no trans fats.

Get ’em here folks at a great price – and I don’t think my buddies, the mangoes, would be too miffed if I encouraged you to try a couple of other flavors as well. This company has seriously nailed the tasty + healthy combo.

Oh, and here’s what the folks at Kind say about their bars:

“Most snacks feature a laundry list of questionable ingredients such as chemical additives, high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. These ‘healthy’ snacks are often high in calories and low in nutrition, leaving you feeling hungry and unsatisfied. KIND’s all natural whole nut & fruit bars put an end to hunger by delivering all-natural nutrients like fiber, protein, calcium and iron. ”

Nice eh? Am I trying to convert you, sell you, evangelize you?

YES, THE ANSWER IS YES!!! I AM!!!

Kind gets my healthy snack vote all day long…