Relishing a raw mango

1torForgive me, but I’ll make bold to say, the fine art of making a traditional Goan green mango ‘koromb’ came naturally. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not implying here that this is my creation or that my grandmother lacked the culinary skills, but the truth is that her actions caused me to learn making this culinary delight on my own.

Back in the days when we spent our summers at “Avo’s” (the ancestral family home in the village), it would be the mango season at its peak. No Goan lad worth his salt would have come of age without having shinnied up a few trees, or having skillfully knocked down fruit from a neighbour’s tree using a well thrown stone or a ‘ketti’ or slingshot. My mouth still waters and the tongue tingles on seeing a green mango gently swaying in the breeze, waiting to be picked… and eaten. Aahh! the sour hit – there was, there is, there will be nothing better.

But my grandmother didn’t think so. She was a traditionalist and firmly believed that green mangoes were to remain on trees and nurtured there until they matured and ripened. Well, I couldn’t argue with her on that – we enjoyed ripe mangoes too. But then, we couldn’t be caught knocking green mangoes from a neighbour’s backyard when our own trees were laden with fruit. So we did the sneaky thing – we didn’t steal, but instead knocked down what was rightfully ours. We were grandchildren of the house, weren’t we?

Getting the salt, chilly and garlic wasn’t difficult – it was time for preparing the ‘purumente’ – the traditional food store for the monsoons – and the stuff was out drying in the sun, there for the taking.

Our first attempts at making ‘koromb’ were rather rudimentary – crack the ‘tor’ (green mango) open with a stone, stuff the salt, chilly and garlic in, and pound it again. I still think that that’s the best way to make it.

It’s been a while since. I’ve long gone past the age when I could knock down a fruit, and I seriously doubt if I possess those skill sets any longer. Picking the green mangoes from the store is far easier, (and certainly more respectable), and the other ingredients are found in every Goan kitchen… so here goes.

Try making your own ‘koromb’.

Ingredients:

  • Tender green mangoes (preferably before the seed pod hardens)
  • 4 to 5 dried chillies
  • 2 to 3 green chillies
  • Few cloves of garlic
  • Salt
  • Sprinkling of Asafoetida (Hing) powder

Method:

  • Wash the green mangoes thoroughly. Cut away centre with seed, and slice evenly along the length.
  • Place in jar and add the broken dry chilly, sliced green chilly, salt and crushed garlic.
  • Sprinkle asafoetida powder (about quarter teaspoon)
  • Shake well until mango slices are well coated.

Let the jar stand for a while to allow the mango to soak in the flavours.

EAT! And enjoy.

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