Sunday, November 28, 2010

Green mangoes, banana squash

I hit the vegetable motherlode today at H & W Produce.  Among the other treasures I picked up, here's something I've been looking for all November: green mangoes.

I bought a green mango last week--sold as such on its plastic packaging--and indeed on the outside it was green, but on the inside it was orange and sweet.  In other words, it was ripe.  Ripe mangoes are delicious, and I enjoyed that one, but it wasn't a green mango.  These are the real deal.  When you peel them, they're green, not orange, and very sour and dry:

There are many Asian recipes for green mango, and dried, powdered green mango is sold as a spice, amchoor powder, which I tried for the first time this month, and have used several times since but for one reason or another have not blogged.  Let me say right now in case I never get another chance, that amchoor powder is wonderful, tart and much like tamarind in taste but without all the fuss about reconstituting and straining--you just add it in near the end of a dal recipe, for instance.

Amchoor powder
And fresh green mango tastes just like that, but in fruit form.  You can add it in chunks to dals if you wish, or make sambar (Indian spicy salsa-type mix) with it, which will probably be my next trick--or you can feature it in a salad, as I did.  This salad is closely based on the Green mango salad from Hema Parekh's The Asian Vegan Kitchen.  It's a little like this one, but not exactly.  If you're interested in Asian cooking and want to explore some of the differences between the various cuisines, I'd urge you to seek out The Asian Vegan Kitchen.  I bought it at the end of October for this project and have cooked quite a number of dishes from it since, and have never been disappointed.  Hema Parekh is a Jain, which means, among many other things, vegan from birth.  She features several recipes from nine Asian cuisines and her choices manage to give a sample of some of each country's representative flavours.  Anyway, the dressing is hers, an eye-rollingly delicious mixture of a number of elements you wouldn't naturally think would go well together, but they're awesome--I ended up scraping out the dressing bowl to get every last molecule.  She doesn't use avocado; her recipe is more like a carrot salad with the grated green mango mixed up with everything else, but I liked mine the way I did it :-)

Along with this, I had banana squash:

In Latin, this is Cucurbita maxima, the biggest squash.  This is the yellow squash you see sold in pieces wrapped in cellophane because the whole squash would be too much.  That's my piece.  I baked it all in a casserole dish with a little water while I had the oven on for bread, so it essentially steamed, and then I continued baking some of it for a little longer in an orange glaze from here that was amazingly great.  I have some of the glaze left and can hardly wait to try it on tofu.  The banana squash itself tastes so much like butternut that in a taste test--blind or not, since all cut up it looks the same too--I don't think I'd be able to tell the difference.

Then I was doing some more experiments on Buddha's chicken.  Thought for a while that this was the one, but no, there's still some experimenting to do to make it perfect, but I'm not giving up, especially since the "failures" are so tasty.

A nice meal: everything complimented everything else beautifully.  Only two more days of MoFo!  But there are still so many more items to try!


  1. Very cool! The green mangoes I used recently were just semi-ripe ones, because they weren't green on the inside...are these green mangoes the same variety as the others just super green?

    The amchoor powder sounds great too.

    I've always wondered about those big pieces of squash...I wonder how big the whole thing is?

    So much interesting info Zoa! Thanks for all the info and the research.

  2. I want some amchoor powder for sure. It sounds like just what I've been missing in certain dishes.

    Mangoes are a sad problem because I'm very allergic to the skin. I could use gloves, or get someone else to peel it, but I'm always afraid of accidentally touching a place that's contaminated. Weird, I know. So I have to content myself with pre-cut fresh or frozen mango. I used to be a real mango fiend, too. Oh well.

  3. Thanks, Shenandoah!

    Rose, you know, I really have no idea how big they can get. Mine looked like a quarter of a squash, but I've also seen them where they're just, like, an anonymous piece of some gargantuan whole!

    Andrea, sorry to hear about the allergy. That is a downer. What happens to you if you touch some skin (yes, I really do love hearing the grisly details about other people's medical problems)? Is it the same if you were to eat it?