With all the juicy ripe mango varieties that usually make their way to our home it’s only this year that we were fortunate to also receive a generous lot of killimukku manga from my sister-in-law , Mahitha akka’s farm. No matter how old one is ,this variety does tend to bring out the child in most of us mango obsessed folk.
It’s something that I love to buy off the roadside vendor especially when cut to resemble an open flower and coated from the tip all the way to the end in salt and red chilli powder. My spouse on the other hand cannot fathom this sort of manic excitement on sighting the cut killimukku manga and tries his best to dissuade my cravings ! And when the mango in question has a tinge of yellow on the side, then the bit of sweetness it adds to the otherwise tart flesh makes this summer treat that much more irresistible.
However for fear of killimukku manga and chilli gluttony leading to a tummy ache one can only indulge in it so much.”What else can we make with this delightful ingredient?” I wondered,the answer was almost instantaneous ; the famous thenga manga pattani sundal !
A few decades ago before street food became fashionable we would rush out of our homes on hearing the ‘thenga manga pattani sundal man’.That’s how we knew him. I’m not sure if he sold in other parts of the city but he was a 4 pm regular around the Race Course circle. If memory serves me right he was an elderly gentleman attired in a white dhoti and shirt with paper cones hanging beside a rectangular tin from which he dished out this tasty sundal. I regret not asking that thatha (grand old man) his name because once he stopped coming to sell the sundal ,no one knew where or how to locate him.
While we waited patiently he would dip the steel ladle deep into the hollow of the tin .The cones made from old newspaper bits would be filled to the brim and then folded over for us to carry back home without spilling. Those were the days when they didn’t really bother to measure but were more than happy to give some extra just to watch the delight on the faces of the young ! By the time we crossed the road and opened our individual parcels, the paper would be quite soggy and heavily infused with the aroma of this unique evening snack.
Today this humble dish can easily comply with several dietary profiles. Gluten free, vegan, high protein, sugar-free ,low-carb etc it ticks all the right boxes. It’s a snack that is so typical of Tamil Nadu that ‘Wild Planet Resort’ makes a mention of it as a must try when visiting this part of the country. Elsewhere in the state it’s also referred to as ‘beach sundal’ ,made popular by the cart vendors on Marina beach.
The process of making this is quite simple.The traditional version is what I love best. Somehow the newer recipes with the addition of carrot and tomatoes don’t really do justice to my thenga manga pattani sundal memory. The pattani used is always the dried white pea which needs to be soaked overnight or at least 8 hours before cooking. The manga is either cubed or grated according to preference but do choose a variety that isn’t too sour.The coconut element is added in the form of a ground masala along with green chillies and ginger.
A light tempering of mustard seeds and curry leaves in a fragrant oil of choice is followed by the ground masala and cooked peas .Salt is then added and it all gets tossed together until well coated.Once off the fire, the raw mango bits go in. After a thorough mixing it is finished off with a squeeze of lime and the word ‘drool-worthy’ couldn’t be more apt to best define the end result !