Spring time is the time of festivities and the start of the harvest. To a farmer it signifies abundance and food for the next year, hope and belief – in Mother earth and in the merit of hard work. To any Indian it signifies the arrival of the king – Alfonso. The mango that the world waits for.
The Portuguese, ever since they landed in Calicut have given us many things and got back many things in return starting late 1400s, whether it’s the art of plantation or the science of Nautical Navigation, there’s a lot that we have got; but the most significant gift has been the grafting of many a Brazilian Mango strains with ours (In fact the first people to use the word “manga” were the Portuguese).
Any Keralite would swear by the Mulgoba and any Indian will have Haapus or Alphonso sunk deep in their mango memories. The most common story is that It is named after Afonso de Albuquerque, the Portuguese administrator of Goa and Malabar, and Admiral. In one of the famous journeys undertaken, the Brazilian graft found its way during Afonso de Albuquerque’s voyage when he brought his famous namesake fruit to India. So, the Alphonso mango found home along the verdant shores of the Konkan in Maharashtra India. The locals took to calling it Aphoos in Konkani and in Maharashtra the pronunciation got further transformed to Hapoos. This variety was then taken to the Konkan region of Maharashtra and other parts of India.
Another folklore credits a Spanish Monk St. Alphonso Rodriguez. Since most varieties were named after grafters, the two things that are true are, one that it’s a grafted variety and two that it’s named after a Mr Alphonso – the person we thank every time there’s spring and the smell of Haapus comes to live in our kitchens.
Mango Flavored Brown Rice Phirni
1/2 cup soaked brown rice
4 cups milk
1/2 cup cream
6 tbsps sugar
1/2 cup alfonso mango puree
2 tbsps almond, peeled and sliced
Few strands of saffron
5 to six dry cranberries
Mint leaves for garnish
1. Soak the rice in water for an hour. Drain, wash and drain again. Pat dry on an absorbent kitchen towel and blend in a mixer.
2. Add ½ cup of cold milk and mix well to make a paste. Keep aside. Boil the rest of the milk and gently stir in the rice paste. Cook for about 15 minutes on a slow flame, while stirring continuously.
3. Add the sugar and simmer for a few minutes. Now add the mango puree and stir well.
4. Pour into serving containers and keep aside to cool. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Serve chilled garnished with almonds, saffron strands, mint leaves and dry cranberries.