My first fruity memory was my mother warning that mangos could cause an allergic reaction in people sensitive to the peel. Of course, being the neurotic child I was, when I tasted a mango I immediately imagined I felt sick, started scratching, and swore off mangos for life. Although still neurotic, I can proudly say that I have conquered my fear of fruit. Yeesh!
Mom was right, though. A quick mango search reveals that the peel contains urushiol, the chemical in poison ivy and poison sumac, which can cause contact dermatitis in some people. Okay... itchy, but not life threatening.
I think the first time I considered eating a mango again was when I received one in a bag of produce from a fruit-and-vegetable coop to which I belonged in Georgia. Among the many benefits of being in the coop was never knowing what the haul would contain. Every two weeks I would receive two brown grocery bags full of fresh fruits and vegetables from the state farmers' market. The contents depended on which neighbor was buying that week. Somebody in the group liked mangos, which led me to the brave new world of mango experimentation. What a breakthrough. It only took 32 years.
Mangos are a bit awkward to cut up due to their oblong, fibrous stone, which is located in an off-center spot in the fruit. Other than that, they are easy to manage. I take off the peel with a vegetable peeler - and I live to tell about it.
Although I don't like them enough to buy them to eat out of hand, I do enjoy them mixed in salsas and baked goods. Below is a recipe for my favorite muffins, incorporating mango and cardamom. Cardamom is a warm, aromatic spice native to India and is often used in Indian cooking; since the mango is the national fruit of India, it's not surprising that these two flavors were combined, achieving delectable results. A refreshing change from the usual banana or blueberry muffin fare, this Cooking Light recipe is also figure friendly - if you pace yourself.
Mango Cardamom Muffins
(Cooking Light Annual Recipes, 2001)
2 C all-purpose flour
2/3 C sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1 C chopped mango
3/4 C low-fat buttermilk
1/4 C butter or margarine, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 T. sugar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Combine first six ingredients.
- Stir mango into dry ingredients. Make a well in the center.
- Combine buttermilk, butter, vanilla and egg; add to the dry ingredients. Mix just until moistened.
- Grease muffin cups, and spoon in batter. Sprinkle tops with 2 tablespoons of sugar.
- Bake 23 minutes, or until muffins spring back in the center. Remove from pan and cool on rack.