The Art of Mango

Bombay. Sweltering summer. Sway of palm trees. Wherever there is shade, a cart of mangoes awaits. Sweet relief from the heat. Varieties abound, Dasheri, Himsagar, Badami, Totapuri, Kesar and more. Most cherished of all – the king of mangoes – Alphonso or Hapus – with its voluptuous shape, sunshine-yellow skin, and succulent saffron-coloured flesh. Here for just a few weeks, it beckons like treasure, neatly laid on newspaper cuttings and hay. Or piled like golden mountains in Crawford market. Luscious and delicious, beyond measure.

Perhaps, the most popular way of eating an Alphonso is pulped, thickened with milk or cream, as an aamras (mango purée) with pooris. Or the messy chuski method, topping and squeezing the buttery flesh straight into your mouth until you hit the gutli (the seed). 

And so, as an ode to the beloved fruit, we have invited two friends and one Dishoom-walli to interpret their love for mangoes in their own unique way. One expresses through spoken word, another through an essay. The third is through an illustration.

Rikesh Chauhan, a menswear writer, photographer, singer and our very dear friend beautifully captures the essence of nostalgia and comfort that we associate with the mango season. 

"There are but a few moments that compare to this time of year.

The season changes and the air suddenly smells a little bit sweeter.

The winds turn gentle, almost welcomed, against your skin,

as you wonder how you ever lived without it.

It’s the same as Mum’s cooking; there’s nothing quite like home.

No matter where in the world home is, it’s the best because it’s yours.

It speaks of tranquillity, of peace, of happiness, and togetherness.

It’s telling your Dad you liked it once, and immediately having box after box appear,

stacked in your kitchen waiting to be cut, shared, and savoured.

It’s strange how there’s so much passion and love that envelops one simple thing.

But I suppose to us, it means so much more than just what it is.

It’s all of our favourite childhood memories. It’s something that has brought us together.

It’s never forgetting the first time you tasted it, and being so excited to share that moment

with those that haven’t yet had the pleasure.

It’s more than just a fruit. It's enjoying the present.

It’s contentment and abundance.

It's everything that love holds,

and it's what home feels like."

Witness the mango magic here

Heleena Theodore (@heleenatattoos), a tattoo artist intertwines the essence of mangoes into her art, crafting designs that celebrate the fruit's vibrant colours and rich symbolism.

In her own words, she reflects, “To me, there is nothing more quintessentially South Asian than our collective love for mangoes. Even as part of the diaspora, regardless of how far we are from the motherland, mangoes will forever ground us and bring us back home. My focus has always been to connect with my culture, and in doing so, invite my South Asian audience to reconnect with theirs. The humble mango will always hold such a special connection, a reminder of where we came from.

Kanika Bhargav, a Dishoom-walli beckons us to the heart of an Indian summer, as she weaves a tale of childhood memories spent under the shade of a beloved mango tree.

"As I sit at my desk, staring at my laptop, rain pattering against the window panes, I can't help but reminisce. It's May. And even here, miles away, I can almost taste the essence of an Indian summer. 

Mangoes, sometimes sweet, sometimes tangy, always juicy were the heart of my childhood. They symbolised the arrival of summer holidays. Lazy afternoons spent under the big mango tree in my nani’s garden. Surrounded by the laughter of cousins and warmth of family.

Every summer, the mango tree would burst into life. Its branches heavy with the sweet, golden orbs. And every summer, at the first hint of ripe mangoes perfuming the air, neighbours would flock to my nani's gardene, eager to partake in the mango bounty. Some came armed with long sticks, ready to shake the tree until the mangoes rained down.  Others, like my younger brother, opted for a more adventurous approach, armed with a slingshot (gulel).

The excitement peaked as my nani carefully selected the ripest mangoes. The ceremonial cutting and slicing, fights with the siblings on who would eat the gutli, and the inevitable sticky fingers and messy faces as we savoured each mouthful. Whether it was enjoying a chilled glass of mango lassi or relishing aamras after dinner, mangoes made every meal better.

One particularly funny memory involved my brother. He claimed he saw a ghost in the mango tree, a woman who was picking mangoes at night, and who disappeared when he approached her. After I heard the story, I wished and wished I would see a ghost, too, but none appeared to me. 

Even now, as an adult, the sight and smell of mangoes evoke a sense of nostalgia and longing for those carefree days of my youth. No matter how far away I am, mangoes always transport me back to those simpler times. Reminding me of my home."

For the brief but glorious mango season, we’re serving Alphonso Mango with Vanilla Ice Cream. Luscious and delicious, beyond measure. Procurable in Dishoom cafés until 16th June, in slim pickings per day – so don’t dally. Act with promptitude.

For the love of mangoes we also present to you a mango treat in the form of tees – a most refreshing addition to your summertime wardrobe.

Sport our juicy Mango T-shirts that are now live on the Dishoom Store. Their natural hue complement the outdoors. The soft, 100% organic cotton feel like a gentle hug, and the classic fit allows you to move freely. Pair it with denim shorts or linen trousers – that perfectly transition you from a picnic in the park to an evening feast at Dishoom.

Priced at £28 each, these summer staples won’t be around for long – don't dawdle. 

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