Mangoes have been trickling into the market for the past 3 weeks and they are getting sweeter and tastier. New varieties for me to taste now that I am in Delhi - I spent the first 22 years of my life eating only the luscious Hapoos - those delicious golden Alphonsos from Ratnagiri. Then I moved to Chennai and after one year * of holding out I finally gave into the Banganapallis (called Benishan in the North but different from the Safeda) and was pleasantly surprised.
After tasting some more varieties like the Rumani, Neelam and Imam Pasand and now hearing about the magic of the Langda, Dashehari and Chausa varieties, I figure there is no point debating which one is superior. They have such different textures and flavour, why bother nit picking? try them all one by one and have mangoes throughout the season!!
In fact I am going to start trying the little known ones too whenever possible - the ones which are known only locally - Himsagar from West Bengal, Cherukurasam from AP, Imam Pasand from AP and TN (also known as Himayuddin), Kesar from Gujarat, Mankurado (scary hairy!) from Goa, Raspuri from Karnataka.....so many mangoes, so little time!
Well, as you may have guessed by now, I love mangoes and after I finish eating the mangoes for the first 2 weeks of the season, I then start thinking about how I can include it some dish or the other. This dish is an outcome of that train of thought this year.
My best friend is Konkani and I used to practically live there during my graduation and PG.'
One of the dishes Sandhya Pacchhi (maternal aunt in Konkani) used to make was saasam - a creamy gravy which combined the sweet flavours of fruits like pineapple or mango with the spice of mustard and red chillis and a hint of sourness from tamarind. I used to love this dish and have been wanting to make it for a long time. I did finally, but with a twist to the recipe and used it to as a sauce to accompany some grilled chicken (I adapted this recipe from Sig's delightful blog Live to Eat).
Saasam is usually not cooked and the fruit pieces are left whole. I pureed three fourth of the mangoes with the coconut and spices, omitted the tamarind since the mangoes were slightly sour, gently heated the sauce for about a few minutes just before serving and folded in a spoonful of cream.
The combination of the grilled chicken marinated in coriander, mint and lemon juice and the spicy sweet mango saasam was just fabulous!
The chicken was juicy and moist and had absorbed the flavours of the herbs and spices beautifully. The mango sauce complemented the chicken and was unlike anything I had made before.
Lime Coriander Chicken with Coconut Mango Sauce
Chicken - 3 skinless breasts (400gm) with the bone
Sliced onions - 2
oil - 1/2 tbsp
Juice of 2 limes
Ginger - 2" piece finely chopped
Garlic - 4 cloves minced
Black peppercorns - 5-6
Green chillies -2-3 chopped fine
Mint leaves - 1 cup
Coriander leaves - 1 cup
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Coriander seeds - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Coconut Mango Sauce (Ambe Saasam)
Coconut - 1 cup chopped pieces
Mustard - 1/2 tsp
Red chillies -3-4 (tone this down to 2 if you don't like it too spicy)
Jaggery grated - 1 tsp
Mangoes - 2 peeled, seeded and diced (about 2 cups)
salt to taste
Cream - 1 tbsp
1. Wash and clean the chicken and keep aside.
2. Pound the ginger, garlic, pepper, cumin and coriander till coarsely crushed, add the mint and coriander leaves and pound again. Finally add the lime juice and salt and mix well.
3. Marinate the cleaned chicken in this mixture for about two hours in the refrigerator.
4. For the saasam, grind the coconut pieces, mustard, jaggery, red chillies and three fourth of rhe mango pieces to a smooth paste adding a little water if needed. Add salt and the rest of the mango pieces and keep aside.
5. Preheat the oven to 350C, heat oil in a pan and add the sliced onion and saute till a little browned - about 4 minutes.
6. Take a glass baking dish with a lid, put in the fried onions at the bottom and arrange the chicken breasts on top of the onions. Pour the remaining marinade over the pieces and cover with the lid.
7. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes till the chicken is cooked well.
8. Remove from the dish and pan fry each piece for a few minutes on high flame to brown them a bit.
9. Heat the mango sauce for a few minutes till it is just barely warm and gently fold in the cream. Remove from flame and transfer to a serving bowl.
10. To serve, put one piece of the chicken on a plate, a portion of steamed rice on the side and spoon the mango sauce over the chicken and the rice.