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the green side of mango

Here in America, green mango is popular with Thai food. Most Thai restaurants have either a salad or curry with green mango on their menus. While Indian restaurants tend to shy away from green mangoes, Indian food has a rich repertoire of green mango delicacies.

kairee - the green mango

We Indians love to snack on  kairees (or kayree) - the green, unripe or raw mango –  sliced and dipped in spicy hot salt (salt mixed with red chilli powder or cayenne pepper). Green mango is also used in many Indian dishes like chutneys, murabbas (preserves), daals (lentil stews), raitas (salads), even bhel or chats (snacks) an, of course, a variety of  kairee achaars (green mango pickles). Depending on the region, there are a variety of Indian recipes that have the green mango as a star ingredient.


In Maharashtra (a state in Western India), where I come from, kairee is extensively used in cooking, especially during the mango season. To name a few, some of the most popular Maharashtrian kairee preparations range from juices to pickles and much more in between: kairee che panha, kairee chi chatni, kairee chi daal, kairee cha moramba, kairee che loncha and many more. Growing up, I remember my mom making almost all of these items every summer. We had two tall mango trees in our backyard that would yield atleast a couple hundred mangoes every mango season. Unfortunately, they were not the prestigious Alphonso mangoes; these would ripe into a very tart not-so-tasty fruit. So the fruit usually was plucked earlier, when it was still very green and not allowed to ripe. It was used in homecooking or distributed among relatives and friends and even used as secondary payment to the person hired to do the plucking job!

I try to make one or two of these kairee preparations in the summer, when I can lay my hands on them in the Indian grocery stores.

Green Mangoes at Bhavani Cash & Carry, Iselin NJ

Green Mangoes at Bhavani Cash & Carry, Iselin NJ

…So join me as I explore the green side of mango!

Kairee Panha

(Green Mango Cooler)

To beat the summer heat, Indian cuisine has a wide variety of refreshing and nutritious beverages. Green mangoes are rich in potassium and iron and are used as a base for panha - a delicious cooler made from green mangoes and flavored with cardamom and saffron. Kairee panha is the Maharashtrian alternative to lemonade during the mango season. It is a little sweet, a little sour and very pleasant drink with a subtle hint of spices.

There are two different methods of making the panha. One is by grating the raw green mangoes and pressing them hard to squeeze the juices out (back then, my mom’s kitchen wasn’t equipped with a juicer) and the other one is by cooking the green mangoes and puréeing the cooked flesh under the skin. Both the recipes call for sugar or jaggery, but the former method requires more sweetener, since the juice from the raw mango can be extremely sour. I personally prefer the latter method, simply because the pressure cooker and the food processor do most of the work and it is low in sugar. This drink done my way, has a beautiful golden yellow color and looks tempting! Go ahead, take a sip!


Picture 1 of 5

Makes 6 tall (12 oz.) glasses or 12 small (8 oz.) glasses

The Concentrate

2 large or 3 medium green mangoes

water, for cooking

1 cup jaggery or sugar

½ tsp salt

10-12 green cardamom pods, seeds removed and grinded

5-6 saffron strands

To prepare the concentrate, place the green mangoes in a pressure cooker  and add water to immerse them completely in it. Bring the cooker to a full pressure, letting it whistle 3 times and then turn the heat off. Alternatively, place the green mangoes in a pot of water and bring it to a boil. Continue boiling over medium heat for 15-20 mins, till the skin of the manoes wrinkles and turns from bright green to moss green. Turn the heat off and try holding the mangoes, one by one, with a pair of tongs and try to give it a little squeeze. If it is still tough, it needs to cook for more time.

After the mangoes have cooled down, peel the skin off and squeeze the flesh out as much as possible, discarding the seed.

processing green mango pulp

Purée the mangoes into pulp in a blender or food processor and transfer it into a saucepan. Add jaggery or sugar to the mango pulp along with the salt, ground cardamom seeds and saffron strands. Simmer for another 10-15 mins till the jaggery dissolves, stirring occassionally.

Remove from heat, cool completely and refrigerate the concentrate in an air tight container.

When ready to serve, add ¼ cup of the concentrate to a tall glass and top it up with ice cold water. Add ice cubes if you like and serve. Add more concentrate if necessary

serving kairee panha

Kairee Loncha

(Green Mango Pickle)

Pickles are an integral part of Indian cuisine. Be it North, South, East or West, any regional Indian cuisine has some kind of pickle served on the side with lunch and dinner, and sometimes even breakfast!

During hot summer months, Indian homecooks spend a lot of their time outdoors, feverishly preparing sun-dried foodstuff like papads, potato kees and pickling a variety of fruits and vegetables. The most popular among the fruit pickles is the green mango pickle and there are numerous different ways to pickle it. The Indian summer helps kill the bacteria, thus prolonging the shelf life of these pickles. In fact it gets so hot that you can get pickled just sitting in your car :D .

Today I am sharing a simple traditional pickle recipe that my mom and my grandmom would make every summer with homegrown green mangoes. Unlike the store-bought variety, this one has crunchy, tart green mango chunks marinated in spicy, sweet oil.

Try it and I bet you’ll find yourself licking your fingers!


Picture 1 of 6

Makes about 1 cup of pickle

2 medium or 1 large green mango, seeded and diced


1 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp red chilli powder or cayenne pepper

¼ cup oil, canola, sunflower, corn or vegetable

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp mustard seeds

½ tsp asafoetida (see Concoctions 101)

In a bowl, combine diced green mangoes, salt, sugar and red chilli powder.

In a small frying pan, warm oil over medium high heat and add turmeric, mustard seeds and adofoetida. When the seeds start to sputter, remove from heat and pour the hot tempered oil over the mango in the bowl.

Toss gently and transfer in an air tight container. Store it at room temperature in a cool, dry place or refrigerate for 48 hours (2 days) before serving so that the mango marinates in the spicy-sweet oil.

Serve chilled or at room temperature along side of parathas, roti-subzis, rice or snacks like poha and upma. (I even like it as a sandwich spread :P )

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