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What are the most popular mango varieties in Kolkata? There are lot of aspects of food which create differentiation amongst different states of India and more than differentiation, it is about a certain need of healthy competitiveness which has always prevailed. Which Biryani is better? The one you get in Hyderabad or in Lucknow? Who owns Rasogolla? Odisha or West Bengal? Which place has the best street food? Delhi, Indore or Kolkata? It's not different when it comes to Mango too. It's for no reason that the mango is known as the king of the fruits and whether Himsagar in Kolkata is better than the Alphonso, will be for some other day. The restaurants leave no stone unturned to use this strong ingredient for various dishes and if you are a mango lover, then how about going on a mango inspired dishes trail in Kolkata.
Paramount Sherbet shop was established in 1918. Located in a small bylane in College Street, this shop has been famous for some of the best Sherbets that have been offered since time immemorial and boasts of a loyal clientele base which consists of few noble laureates and few of the best minds in the country. The Mango Mania comes in a tall glass with chunks of mango cubes infused in a smoothie form. One needs to be cautioned that this is a wholesome fulfilling drink in itself and any plans of any meal after that can be safely ignored. Cream Green Mango is another variation of a mango drink; however this one has flavouring of green mango and is topped with a lot of cream, giving it a super summery flavour. From traditional to some new ones. Mango as a flavouring agent has been one of the coveted one in kitchens and bars and no wonder that the results substantiate that to all extent. At Bohemian, Chef Joymalya Banerjee has been instrumental in introducing some of the path breaking unconventional drinks to Kolkata and Aamer Ambol Shorbot has been one of them. This is not for the weak hearted. Raw mangoes infused with mustard seeds, turmeric, salt, sugar and water and the extract is infused with white rum. To spike it further, red chili powder is sprinkled on top. How about some Green Mango and Camino Margarita, where the oven roasted raw Mango pulp is used with Tequila and crushed ice to get the cocktail. This is available in SpiceKraft. Burnt Garlic has a Coconut and Mango Daiquiri Cocktail which is a summer special. Served in a margarita glass this heavy bodied seasonal cocktail is blended with Bacardi, sweet and sour syrups and topped with coconut milk.
When it comes to the main course, some of the dishes which are worth checking out in the city are again from Chef Joy's stable - Bohemian. While he is a wizard in creating and reinventing dishes with Panch Phoron (Bengali 5 spices), Gondhoraj Lebu (the very local yet globally favourite lime of Kolkata) and Nolen Gur (date palm jaggery) and when it comes to Mango also, there are few dishes which are worth trying out. There is Royal Bengal Liver Pate with Dried Mango where the mango along with garlic is used to break the spiciness of the dish. Who would have thought a Mutton Stew made with Okra, inspired from one of the districts of West Bengal and green mango is used as a flavouring agent. There is also Boneless Chicken Escallops Marinated with Ginger and Aam Kasundi or Mango Mustard Sauce. Bodega Cantina Y Bar has introduced Baja Fish Tacos in its anniversary special menu where the taco has a filling of Oats Crusted Baked Fish and is topped with a sublime fresh Mango Salsa. The Coastal Macha has a dish called Mambazha Puliseri which is a dish of ripe mangoes cooked with Shredded Coconut and had with rice.
Dessert is something where the presence of and supreme authority of mango is undoubtedly the best. Be it the Mango Walnut Crepe of Bon Appetit or the Mango Green Pepper Mojito at Cafe Pranah, both run by chef Rahul Arora are just a glimpse of what all can happen over mango. Walk into Taj Bengal at the La Patisserie and Deli where one can pick from Mango Danish Pastry, Mango Cheese Cake, Mango Crunchy Parfait and Mango Cup Cake. Aamrel Custard with Crispy Fried Milk is available in Bohemian which is made from Aam Shotto (Mango Leather) and Coconut Milk and Crispy Fried Milk is used as a topping. Try out the Deli at the Gateway, where they are offering Mango Tiramisu, Mango Charlotte, Mango Mousse Cake, Mango Mousse Cake, Eggless Mango Mille Feuille and many more.
As Chef Rahul points out when it comes to flavouring, Murshidabad Langra and Alfonso remains a chef's delight but Himsagar is the favourite mango of Kolkata and is available in abundance. Having a strong flavour, it does become tricky to use this fruit in savoury dishes. Well, who cares whether it's in a savoury dish or a drink or in a dessert. It's only for a few months during summer, so as long as it lasts, let's make the most of the mangoes.
A true blue Kolkata foodie, Anindya loves cooking and eating his Kosha Mangsho. Anindya weaves stories around food as he believes exceptional food is an emotional experience. Previously a restauranter, now a passionate photographer and traveller, he runs a successful blog called Pikturenama and contributes to other publications.