Madhur Jaffrey’s ultimate curry bible, 352pp.
by Madhur Jaffery
Ebury Publishing, London, 2003
Cooking on page 232–34
Madhur Jaffery is a goddess of curry cookery and I own several of her books. Not surprisingly, this one is considered one of the most comprehensive collections of curry recipes ever produced. The family gave it to me as a present more than 10 years ago and it is one of my most used cookbooks.
So far, I’ve made recipes using lamb, goat, pork, tomatoes, peas, potatoes, corn, cauliflower and eggplant (aubergine). Hadn’t ever cooked from a page 32 until I decided I was long overdue for giving this cookbook its due.
Page 32 discusses Jaffery’s cooking history and page 132 is a crab recipe. Daughter Petra is allergic to crab so I moved on to 232 and an unusual soup recipe, which Jaffery says has its roots in India and South Africa.
Gujarati mango soup (Fajeto)
2 tablespoons chickpea flour
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 ground coriander
120 ml/4 fl oz natural yoghurt
700 ml/ 30 fl oz thick Alphonso mango pulp (sweetened) from a can
1 1/4 – 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
2 bird’s eye chillies, with small slits cut in them
2 tablespoons corn or peanut oil, or a mixture of 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon ghee
a generous pinch of asafetida
1/2 teaspoon whole brown mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
2 whole, dried, hot red chillies
1/8 teaspoon whole fenugreek seeds
10–15 fresh curry leaves, if available
I’ll start off the method with detail given in the introduction to the recipe. Jaffery says if you can’t find mangoes in the can, you can use fresh, and this is how to create mango pulp. Here’s her advice.
‘If you are lucky enough to find fresh, sweet, juicy, fully-ripe mangoes, wash them, then, one at a time, squeeze them with both hands, almost as if you were giving them a good massage. The flesh should turn to pulp. Now peel them. “Milk” the stone, collecting all the juice in a bowl. Pour a little hot water on the stone and “milk” it some more. Do the same to the skin, pouring a tablespoon or so of hot water on it to get at all the juice. You should have about 1.25–1.5 litres/2 1/4-2 1/2 pints. Use this thin juice whenever water is called for, letting it cool first. You may need to add more sugar.’
Now on with the rest of the method.
Put the chickpea flour, turmeric, cumin and coriander in a medium bowl. Very slowly add 120 ml/4 fl oz water, mixing with a wooden spoon as you go. There should be n lumps left. Add the yoghurt, mixing it in with a whisk. Pour in the mango pulp and an additional 475 ml/16 fl oz water. Add the salt, sugar and fresh chillies. Mix well.
Pour the oil (or oil and ghee) into a thick, medium, lidded pan and set over a medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot, put in first the asafetida and then, in quick succession, the mustard and cumin seeds, the chillies, the fenugreek seeds and, lastly, the curry leaves. Take the pan off the heat. Stir the mango mixture well and quickly pour it into the pan. Stir. Put the pan on a medium heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer on a very low heat for 5 minutes, stirring with a whisk or spoon as you do so. Take the pan off the heat, cover, and leave for at least 30 minutes to allow the spices to release their flavours.
Before serving, stir the soup and reheat it gently. Strain it through a coarse strainer. Spoon out some of the smaller seeds—the mustard and cumin—from the strainer and stir them back into the soup to add some colourful flecks.
How it played out
I had three fresh mangoes, so I followed Jaffery’s advice and massaged the dickens out of them. Guess what? The technique works brilliantly. I also added water to the seeds and skins so I could ‘milk’ them for juice. Needless to say, my hands were a mess, but in a good way, because I was able to use the mango water in place of plain water.
I followed the rest of the recipe until I got to the strain the soup part. I felt no need to lose all that pulpy, seedy deliciousness, so I skipped that step completely and served up the soup.
Also finely shredded some green onion as a garnish for the soup. Perfect.
Never expected to eat a mango soup.
Jaffery delivers another success. This recipe is sensational. It’s easy and a little messy to make, and totally delicious.
Don’t change a thing, except don’t worry about straining it.
Given that this recipe has its roots in India, I hope you’ll find time to check out my travel blog. There are many posts on our travels in India, including this one that introduces the Asiatic lions in Gujarat, which is in keeping with a Gujarati recipe.