KARACHI: It is mango season. Mangoes of every variety are all over. Markets, particularly, fruit markets, appear flooded with them. People are enjoying delicious, succulent, and refreshing fruit called the ‘king of all fruits’. Mangoes, when ripe, are used to make shakes, juices and various sweets, and when unripe, sauces and pickles etc.
The fruit is affordable even for lower-income people. Of course, the well-off go for the best quality and the best varieties. Poor people look for whatever is available cheaply.
This has medical gains also as it is a great source of energy during the scorching summer days. Mangoes are a comfort food. The enzymes in it act as a digestive aid giving the feeling of comfort.
Some people believe that mangoes should be eaten only after rains, when the weather if cooler. A youth, Jibran Ahmed, said: “Mangoes have made me gorger, I can’t stop myself from eating one after another.”
The best known variety of the mango fruit in Pakistan is Chaunsa, which is mainly grown in Punjab. Its Sindh counterpart is called Sindhri. There are people who prefer Anwar Ratol over other varieties. This small size variety is probably the most delicious one. Its fans call it the ‘king of mangoes’.
There are so many fancy named varieties such as Tota Pari (parrot fairy), which is very beautiful as its name shows another very beautiful variety is Gulab Khas, which has reddish-yellow colour, honeyed fragrance and sweet taste. Bangan Phali (eggplant peanut) is a bigger variety. Tota Pari is the variety which arrives late in the market and outlives others, while the first one to hit the market is Saroli, a dark green colored.
Of course, there is the famous Langra also. When Allama Iqbal received Langra crates, he acknowledged receipt with a couplet. Mangoes mention is always incomplete without mentioning Assadullah Khan Ghalib. The bard had famously said that mangoes should be sweet and abundant. And that only donkeys don’t eat mangoes.
Langra variety is one of the cheapest ones. It may be fully ripe and yellow inside while enveloped in its green skin. Another cheap variety is Desi, which has sub-varieties. This is probably what is called ‘Tukhmi Aam’, which is distinguishable from ‘Qalmi Aam’, which results from transplantation. The former is grown from seeds.
A fruit vendor, Muhammed Saeed, who is in the business for about 40 years, told PPI: “There are around 30 varieties of Qalmi Aam and hundreds of varieties of other mangoes available in Pakistan. The cheapest one in the market these days is Langra being sold at Rs50 per kg, while, the dearest one is Anwar Ratol, Rs140 per kg.
Pakistan’s mangoes are exported not only to the Middle Eastern countries, but also to the Far East and Europe. With better storage and preserving facilities, Pakistan can export more and earn much more foreign exchange, which may ultimately benefit the growers.
The varieties available in the market are Chaunsa, Sindhri, Anwar Ratol, Langra, Tota Pari, Bangan Phali, Zafraan, Tarayam, Alfenso, Kesro, Bhagalpuri, Laal Patta, Cluster, Dilpasand, Sabzposh, Samar, Behshat, Fajri, Aman Dusehri, Aabus, Saroli, Gulab Khas and many others.