Mention Benaras and two things immediately come to mind – the Ghats and the Chaats. Walking through the narrow lanes of this holy city couple years ago, I couldn’t help but be amazed at its quaint charm. Almost every lane either led to the ghats or had a food fable waiting to be discovered.
While I shuttled between Shri Laxmi Prasad Chaurasia’s tea n toast and Bharat Lal Sharma ji’s famous Kachori and Mawa Jalebi, I wanted to explore another trail. That of the Benarasi Langda/Langra.
History has it that when the famous Urdu poet Allama Iqbal received a gift of Langda mangoes from his contemporary, Akbar Allahabadi, the former acknowledged it with a couplet:
असर है तेरी ऐजाज़ -ए- मसीहाई का ऐ अकबर
अलाहाबाद से लंगड़ा चले लाहौर तक पहुंचे
..hailing Akbar’s healing powers like the Messiah that made the Langda(lame) “walk” from Allahabad to Lahore!
Here are a few stories behind how Langda got its name. The most common one being the chance seeding of the cultivar in the backyard of a specially-abled Fakir in Benaras and the variety being named after him.
Another theory goes that the mother tree of this variety, said to be more than 300 years old, is in a village called Langda near Benaras.
Yet another theory is that the fruit hangs so delicately from the tree, that the slightest breeze knocks it down. Hence the name Langda, because of its lack of balance or steadiness!!
The origin notwithstanding, the fruit enjoys immense popularity and appears in the market from mid-July to August.
A fibreless, sweet mango, Langda retains its green hue even after ripening. The superior flesh of the fruit makes it a great choice for processed mango products.
Langda loyalists further claim, that only the Langda cultivated in Benaras would have the distinctive flavour, compared to those grown anywhere else in the country!
So if you are already beginning to miss Mango season considering it’s mid-june..fret not. Langda is on the way 🙂