Friday, June 10, 2011

Monsoon Mélange

The long harsh summer has given way to the cooling showers of monsoons in India now. This marks the end of mango season when people scramble to lay their hands on last of the season. After 2-3 months of devouring mangoes in every single of its forms, this is the time to salvage the not so great last few. My MIL was describing excitedly to me last night how she found small green mangoes really cheap in some small town. Then like two typical women, we exchanged what all we could make with the specific kind of mangoes she bought and how my mom's recipe differs from hers and how she shouldn't eat anything too sour now that the weather is cooling down.

Coincidently, I had bought 2 green mangoes just yesterday and the weather in San Diego today is a perfect reminder of the Indian monsoons. The sun is playing hide and seek with the clouds with occasional showers. It is the perfect weather to indulge your senses in a cup of steaming and slightly spicy Kairiche Saar - Green Mango Soup!

Kairiche Saar - Green Mango Soup

2 Green/raw mangoes
4-5 Red chilis - adjust according to your liking
1/4 Teaspoon red chili powder
1 Strand of curry leaves
1/2-3/4 Teaspoon cumin seeds
A few whole fenugreek seeds
1 Cube jaggery/1-2 Teaspoons brown sugar
~1 Tablespoon grated coconut
1 Teaspoon ghee/butter
  • Soak a few fenugreek seeds in water so they get soft until you work on the rest.
  • Steam the green mangoes in a pressure cooker or in the microwave (not directly in the water - keep the whole mangoes in a container and keep it in a larger container with water and steam) until the mangoes are soft and the skin has turned a pale yellowish green color.
  • Let the mangoes cool. Discard the skin which should peel off easily, take out all the flesh and keep the seeds aside. You can throw the seeds away but I usually let them boil with the saar/soup which gives it a distinct flavor. Moreover, the seeds are a lot of fun to suck on after :D - give them to kids. Mash the pulp to remove any lumps.
  • Heat ghee in a cooking pot and add the cumin seeds, curry leaves, red chilis and lastly the drained fenugreek seeds. Once cumin gives out a nice aroma, add the mango pulp and seeds, jaggery and coconut. Adjust the amount of jaggery depending on how sour the mangoes are.
  • I added just a little bit of red chili powder for the color and a slight kick. The soup has lots of different flavors and spicy should definitely be one of them.
  • Add about 3 cups of water (or however thin you want it - it tastes better a little watery) and let it boil for a good 5-7 minutes on medium-high. The mango is already cooked so you just want all the flavors to come together.
Drink hot just as soup or with some rice. Simply delicious!!

You can make it a little more tangy to be refreshing in hot weather.

  • There are lots of variations to this recipe. My MIL uses coconut milk instead of grated coconut which I'm sure will taste just as fabulous.
  • Some like to use green chili paste instead of whole red chilis and some use red chili powder. I personally like whol red chilis because they add a nice roasted flavor to the dish.
  • As always, cilantro is great for garnishing.

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