The sweet arrival of Indian mangoes

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3 cups vanilla yogurt

3/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon chopped crystallized ginger

1/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds, ground fine in mortar and pestle (about 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom)

3 mangoes, peeled and chopped

Set a strainer over a large bowl and line with fine cheesecloth. Pour the yogurt into the strainer and place it with the bowl under it into the refrigerator. Let drain overnight.

When the yogurt is thicker than sour cream but not as rigid as cream cheese, transfer it to a clean bowl.

Stir in the grated ginger, crystallized ginger and cardamom. Refrigerate another 2 to 3 hours to let the flavors develop.

When ready to serve, put a dollop of the ginger cream into each bowl, make a well with a spoon and fill with chopped mango.

Makes 4 servings.

Peeling into that mango taste

Mangoes from India tend to be smaller and sweeter than those from Mexico and South America, which are the most common in U.S. grocers. This means the less you do to them, the easier it is to appreciate their natural tangy sweetness.

m Many Indians do little more than remove the skin and sprinkle the flesh with a bit of salt or cayenne, or with an Indian spice mix known as “fruit chaat” or “chunky chaat.”

Often a mixture of salt, cumin, coriander, cloves, asafoetida (an herb found in India and Iran) and other seasonings, chaat is salty and pungent with a vaguely metallic taste that accents the fruit’s sweetness. These mixes are available at Indian markets.

m Another favorite, especially in Maharashtra, the heart of India’s mango country, is a dish called amras. Essentially, it is mango pulp that is scooped up with hot fried bread called puri (use pita bread in a pinch), which can be found (usually frozen) at Indian markets.

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