Summer Staycation: Exploring Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia offers an intriguing landscape bursting with bustling adventure that has captivated travelers for centuries. This region’s diverse nature weaves together the most awe-inspiring scenery, age-old cultural beliefs and traditions, and a smorgasbord of deliciously distinct recipes. Nearly every climate in the world is represented here, from sublime coastlines and golden-sand tropics to snow-capped mountain tops and lush rain forests.
If you needed another excuse to wanderlust, it’s hard to beat the eats in Southeast Asia! Hungry travelers will never grow tired of Asian cuisines and as the original mango mecca, you’ll find many dishes adorned with this succulent superfruit. Cuisines from this region have truly carried their influences around the globe–spices, dumplings, soups, noodles–only to be described as heaping plates of pleasure known and loved by even the pickiest of eaters.
So, join the gusto and feel the getaway as we explore India, Indonesia, and Thailand!
Delving into India
As one of the oldest civilizations in the world, India is a beautiful mosaic of multicultural experiences. Rich in heritage, encompassing a myriad of geographical settings and brimming with varied floras.
Mango Love Began in India
To do justice to the mango love in India, one must look back much farther into the history of civilization. Mangos were first grown in India over 5,000 years ago. From there the mango seed traveled throughout Asia making its way to the Middle East, East Africa and South America around the time of 300 or 400 A.D. In South Asia, mangos have been cultivated for thousands of years.
Today, nearly half the world’s mangos are harvested in India alone, where it’s the national fruit. It’s even become a tradition to give a basket of mangos as a gesture of friendship and gifting mangos is a very common practice.
Sacred Mango Leaves
Traditionally, mango leaves are known to signify goodwill blessings and to deter negative energy. In Indian culture, mango leaves are hung during special ceremonies, entrances, temples, and more to welcome love, good fortune, and prosperity. To learn more about mango leaves, click here.
Indian Local Markets
Mangos are commonly found in fresh produce street markets in India, brightening carts and stands with their yellow, green, and red overtones. For locals, mangos are a common grocery item. Most bring mangos home to include in their everyday diets and cuisine.
While mango street vendors can also be found throughout many Asian countries, India’s mango markets are perhaps their most impressive feature. Thousands of outdoor markets take place throughout India, many with a common good – mangos. Baskets of the fruit fill the streets and allies, stuffed with dozens of varieties. In India, mangos are an easy commodity the entire community has access to. Whether you want green mangos, ripe mangos, large mangos, or small mangos, it’s up to what your craving desires.
Indulge in Indian Cuisine
Indian cuisine, both robust and diverse, include mango in many of its dishes and pairings. Eating here is certainly a joyous affair! We were lucky enough to catch up with Palak Patel from the Chutney Life and she shared with us her family’s love for mango and an exclusive recipe!
To this very day, when my mom mentions mangos, she becomes overjoyed with excitement. For her, mangos hold so many fond memories of her childhood. You see, my mom grew up in India where the warming of the weather meant only one thing: it was time to enjoy mangos. She describes it almost as a frenzy, where people would flock to the open markets, poking, prodding and smelling each mango just to make sure they went home with the best ones (after tons of bargaining, of course). She, along with others from the village, would spend months making large batches of curries, jams, pickles and anything else you can think of that’s sweet, savory or in between.
One of those savory dishes they made often is Bhel. Bhel is a popular Indian street food, and one that I’ve come to love! Its puffed rice that’s tossed with cooked potatoes, cilantro chutney, and a sweet apple butter chutney – it packs serious flavor. The addition of mango to Bhel takes it up a notch by adding some bite, tartness and unparalleled flavor to the entire dish. Over time, it is something that has also made me nostalgic of my own childhood.
In India, mangos are commonly used for more savory applications. No matter the craving or the time of year, mangos can be found complementing palates and accenting grocery markets throughout this country.
Mango lassi is a common Indian drink enjoyed as a nice refreshment on hot days and is one of the most popular drinks found on Indian menus. It’s creamy, smooth and made with a handful of easy to find ingredients.
The Indian mango bond navigates much of the natives’ culinary journeys and continues to influence global culture and cuisine. Much of the mango influence we see today ties back to the love that bonded Indians to mangos thousands of years ago!
Drifting to Indonesia
Indonesia is made up of over 17,000 islands (that would take a lifetime to explore!) in which much of the land is uninhabited. Many will be familiar with the island of Bali and even include it as one of their bucket list destinations. However, this sprawling islandic region offers so much more and is home to a vast array of plant life, cultures, and breathtaking underwater depths.
Indonesia Shares Mango Love
Mango is one of the most popular fruits in this region. They come into season when the climate reaches its hottest and driest period of the year, which is around August through October. One popular varietal that’s grown throughout South Asia, which can also be found in the U.S throughout August and September, is the Keitt mango. This type of mango is popular in Asian cultures, where they are enjoyed in its mature-green stage or even as pickles.
To delight in a specific taste of Indonesia, we recommend trying these Indonesian Spicy Mango Pork Skewers.
And if you’re craving more of the mango experience, keep a look out the next time you eat out or head over to our recipe page for more ways to include mango.
Travelling to Thailand
This region is often referred to as the “land of smiles.” With its natural beauty, good food, and warm weather–we understand why!
Additionally, Thai cuisine conveys much of the culture succinctly – it’s generous, warm, refreshing and relaxed. Thai dishes rely on fresh, local ingredients from spices and chilies to plump seafood and fruits. Much of the fundamental flavors include spicy, sweet, salty and sour. Of course, you’ll find that many dishes include mango! One traditional summertime dessert enjoyed is the Mango Sticky Rice.
Photo courtesy of Healthy World Cuisine
One bite of this creamy, lightly sweetened, coconut goodness accompanied with slices of mango will send you to tropical heaven.
As Summer Winds Down, Mango Remains Year-Round
Eating a mango is truly a magical experience for many and since mangos are always in-season in the U.S, it’s easy to enjoy year-round! Biting into this juicy fruit is regarded by many as a happy memory that lives on and inspires unique and popular dishes. These experiences occur around the world and bond many cultures and cuisines.
Accordingly, mangos have become a part of lifestyle and everyday routine in dozens of countries spanning the entire globe. Throughout Asia to South America, the Caribbean and more, mangos are a prevalent fruit relished by millions. Uniquely, since the fruit bonds cultures in its varying uses, this also highlights its amazing versatility. And while the fruit may be consumed in different ways around the world, the joy mango brings is all the same no matter where you’re located.