Mango season is no less a festival among Sheherwalis, famous for perfecting the art of grafting Mango saplings with fruits & flowers. Of the 700 odd varieties in their orchards, a prized cultivar is the Kohitur, as precious as Kohinoor!
Kohitur has some interesting flower & fruit graftings, making its flavour profile pretty complex; it needs a refined palate to discern those flavours. Raat ki rani is one of those. Also why classically a Kohitur ripens the most at night & you are asked to eat it at night too, when the flavours stand out, akin to how a Raat ki rani is at its aromatic best at night.
The Kohitur needs to be plucked at the right time, should not fall to the ground, should be placed in cotton wool & sides changed every so often, not held in the hands for long, lest the warmth of the hands disturbs the natural ripening process. Yes, the Kohitur does come with very specific intructions & rightly so 🙂
In terms of taste & texture, the beauty of the Kohitur is its subtlety, wherein the flavour profiles are distinguished without being loud. Sweetness sometimes masks the palate’s ability to appreciate other flavours, but not so in the case of Kohitur which is ‘perfectly’ sweet. I recommend doing your due diligence when savouring the fruit to better pick out the subtle floral and fruity notes.
Mango cutting in general & cutting a Kohitur in particular is an inimitable art perfected by the Sheherwali women, a skill handed down through the generations.
The mangoes are first dropped in water & cut with specially crafted knives. The women keep washing the hands with cold water while cutting or the mango is simply passed on to the next woman to avoid the heat of the same pair of hands.
Some more interesting bits:
- The financial standing of an individual used to be measured by the number of Kohitur trees in his/her orchard.
- The Maharaja of Cossimbazar apparently had more than 50 Kohitur trees in his orchards.
- Some of the Kohitur trees are more than 100 years old.
- A typical tree bears only around 40 fruits in a season & that too, not every season.
That’s Kohitur for you, Bengal’s most prized treasure 🙂