Hello, all ! Yes, I know I had disappeared for quite sometime! I was actually inside the winding corridors of a government Post Graduate Hospital in Lucknow for a surgery my husband had to undergo. With the good wishes and help of many, he has recovered well. As a result my faith in Indian doctors has become strong ! They deal with huge numbers of patients every day and are just so experienced . And what came as a pleasant surprise about this government run institution was that once you were admitted (that is the difficult part because admission can take up to 3 months !)it did not matter whether you were rich or extremely poor(in India, sadly, it usually matters)- you got proper medical attention. The doctors and staff worked like well oiled machines–and I am even willing to accept the fact that they got relatives to attend to patients in the ICUs !
The other day, on a street near our house, I met the very nice Mahesh, who sells boiled water chestnuts in winter and, I found, mango pana, a refreshing, green mango drink, in summer-all out of a cart. In fact, this is a familiar sight all over the streets of north Indian towns– carts with huge earthen pots covered in red cloth kept wet, the pots ringed with bunches of fresh mint and green mangoes.
Mahesh offered me a glass of panna–I will usually never drink anything to do with water from a cart on the streets of India–but his offer was too gracious and too tempting so I had a sip and drank it all. It was delicious! Up until now I have had only home made panna but this was superb!
It is basically roasted and boiled green mango pulp, ground fresh mint, a pinch of roasted, powdered cumin seeds, kaala namak( a pungent smelling, pinkish coloured salt)with or without sugar. A very fresh-tasting,sour drink or a sweet one, if you prefer it.
I make a Bengali version at home- made of roasted green (raw)mangoes, sugar(Bengalis love the sugar) and a pinch of salt. I love this version. The smoky taste of the roasted mangoes without any other added flavours -just sweetened with sugar- is delicious ! The markets of India are flooded with green mangoes(and ripe yellow ones)–they are loaded with Vit C and A and iron and is an age old Indian remedy to counter’loo’, the hot winds that blow across North Indian plains in the afternoons in summer.
Here are some of the mangoes I bought from Narahi,our local market-
Soak the mangoes in water for half and hour. Scrub and wash.
Squash them in a large bowl. The pulp pops out easily. Discard the skins and seeds.Mash the pulp well with your fingers. This leaves a lot of texture which I like. You can blend it in a mixer,if you like it smooth.
It is sweet and sour, with a full taste of raw mango, slightly smoky,full of texture and bits and pieces of the charred skin, all exploding with flavour ! What more can you ask for on a hot summer day ! Oh! Besides a crisp chikan embroidered white cotton sari and a sprig of the fragrant mogra !
Hope you have a good week ahead and ‘bye until next time.