From the Nawabs of Lucknow to Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib, everyone had a favourite mango variety.
India has over 1500 varieties of mangoes, which also means that most of us are perpetually arguing about which one is the best. While Mumbaikars can’t get over the Alphonso and insist it is the king of mangoes, the Bangaloreans will wax eloquent about the sweet taste of the Banaganapalli. As for us ‘North Indians’—battlelines are drawn on the sweetness and flavour of Dussheri, Langda and Chausa.
Which mango ends up being your favourite depends a lot upon the region you have grown up in. Childhood memories, long lazy summers and the sweet taste of mangoes are all interlinked. I spent my summer holidays in Allahabad at my grandparent’s house. They had Dussheri, Langda and Chausa trees. I remember sitting with a bucket full of mangoes and competing with my brothers on who could eat more.
It was only as an adult that I was introduced to the Alphonso and I was quickly hooked on to its pretty shape and sweet taste. Much later, when I moved to the south of the country, I tasted the Banaganapalli and loved it too.
But if you were to ask me which are my favourite mangoes, I would vote for Dussheri and Langda. Their sweetness transports me to the carefree summer afternoons of my childhood.
However, there is no reason for us to participate in #mangowars. Most varieties are available at different times. So while Alphonso is available in April, Dussheri is best in June and Langda and Chausa make an appearance in July.
Since mangoes are available only from mid-April to August, enjoy as many varieties as you can in this short period.
Mangoes are an excellent source of vitamin C and help strengthen the immune system. They are also a good source of vitamin A, which helps maintain healthy organ functioning. Besides, mangoes contain zinc, vitamin E, iron and calcium.
Here are some mangoes grown in the north of India that are in season right now.
Dussheri: The Dushheri mango first originated in Dasheri village near Kakori in Lucknow in the 18th century, in the gardens of the Nawab of Lucknow. Since then, it’s been cultivated in different parts of the country. The mango has an extremely short shelf life. It is available from the first week of June to the first week of July. This sweet and fragrant variety of mango is exported to different countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, etc.
Underneath the surface, the orange flesh is tender, succulent, and almost entirely fibreless, encasing a moderately-sized stone. The mangoes are highly aromatic and bear a tropical, nectar-like scent.
Chausa: The season for Chausa starts at the beginning of June and ends in the last week of August. This incredible sweet mango was supposedly named by Sher Shah Suri in the 16th century. Legend has it that Sher Shah Suri tasted the mango after defeating Emperor Humayun in a battle at Chausa, Bihar, in 1539. He loved the mango so much that he called it Chausa.
The mango’s juicy, sweet and fragrant flesh with almost no fibre also made it a favourite of legendary poet Mirza Ghalib.
Langda: Available from mid-June to early August, the Langda supposedly originated in Varanasi. Legend has it that it was first cultivated in the farmlands of a lame (langda) person, giving the mango its name.
The mango is green in colour even when fully ripe. It has a strong fragrance and you can smell it for miles. The mango is pulpy and very sugary.