It's that time of year again, when India goes gaga over mangoes. We're not talking about general enthusiasm and mild excitement like having a sip of your first Pimms of the summer or biting into the first mince pie of the Christmas period. Strolling down a market lane in Mumbai during mango season is probably closer in terms of sensory overload to walking into a souvenir shop on Piccadilly Circus a week before a Royal Wedding.
Every usable nook and doorway is stuffed to the brim with crates and crates of mangoes that pile up to the ceiling in an attempt to capitalise on the nation's insatiable appetite for these sweet, juicy fruits that only turn up for sale for a few weeks each year. Whole retail shops shut temporarily and give way to mango traders and wholesalers who sit on plastic stools, mobile in hand, waiting to receive bulk delivery orders from across the city. Even Heathrow airport now relaxes its allowance on how many crates of mangoes you can bring into the country having lost the debate at a diplomatic level.
It's hard to describe this national obsession without the context of India's seasonal fruit and veg market that is slowly being lost as the country's vast farming community catches up with the 21st century. India, unlike many more developed countries, still relies heavily on the seasonal crops that are available at set times across the year. With little more than 5% of the country's agricultural produce undergoing any kind of processing (compared to over 80% in nearby Malaysia), it is no wonder that fruits and vegetables make their way to the market as soon as they are harvested, only to disappear without a trace a few weeks later.
With over 600 million people involved in the agricultural sector, the government has absolutely no inclination to open up its ports to imported produce, thereby keeping the nation restricted to whatever gets pulled out of its own fields. The result is an endless cycle of enthusiastic anticipation as eager consumers await their next favourite ingredient to hit the market, which is actually incredibly refreshing.
Wondering what all the fuss is about? As it happens, you can get your fill of the Indian mango mania right here in London through online Asian supermarket Red Rickshaw. Order online and get the best Indian mangoes delivered right to your door. Look out for the great 'Alfonso' mango, known fondly as the King of Mangoes, which is widely considered by most people in Maharashtra (where it grows) as the best mango in the country, a topic that continues to be hotly debated by everyone who doesn't live in Maharashtra.
And finally, if you do want to enjoy the taste of Indian mangoes all year round, you can always buy a bottle of Pico's Konkan Mango Chilli Sauce and enjoy this fruity (but spicy) sauce with every bite!
Have you got a mango story to share? Tell us about it in the comments below.
Until next time, folks!