Spices and Mangoes, Two Ways

I had a recent opportunity to do a community event for the South Asian Heart Center, at El Camino Hospital. Please take a look at my talk about the health benefits of spices, in particular spices which enhance immunity. Then watch my demonstration of two recipes featuring mangos and spices. The recipes for Spiced Green Smoothie with Arugula and Mango and Magical Mango Tamarind Rasam are both available in Spicebox Kitchen. And just for you, I’m including the rasam recipe here. To your health!

Magical Mango-Tamarind Rasam

from Linda Shiue, Spicebox Kitchen: Eat Well and Be Healthy with Globally Inspired, Vegetable-Forward Recipes, Hachette Go, 2021

I’ve named this vibrantly flavored mango-tamarind broth “magical” after the main character in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s novel, Mistress of Spices. She is described as a priestess of the magical powers of spices. One taste of the complex spice blend in this rasam and you’ll be a believer. A rasam is a savory sweet-sour-spicy broth that is served in Indian cooking like an aperitif, to stimulate the appetite. I recently learned how to make a pineapple based version of this from the dynamic Chef Suvir Saran, and was hypnotized at first taste. The combination of flavors, from the sweet fruit, sour tamarind, fiery chiles and fragrant curry leaves literally explodes in the mouth. The spices include asafetida, which is not only a complex flavor enhancer, but also has medicinal properties as a digestive aid and as a possible treatment against the H1N1 flu virus. I liked the fruitiness of Suvir’s pineapple version and imagined that mango would make a good substitute. I used prepared mango pulp for its smoothness in this broth; canned versions are widely available in Indian grocers. If you cannot find canned mango pulp, you can make your own by boiling a peeled mango, pureeing and then straining it.

Ingredients

3 dried whole chiles
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
3 1/2 cups hot water
2 teaspoons tamarind pulp
1 cup mango pulp
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 teaspoons salt, adjust to taste
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds
2 green bird chiles, stemmed and slit
6 to 8 curry leaves
1/4 teaspoon asafetida
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Method

Prepare the rasam spice blend: place dried chiles, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and peppercorns in a spice grinder and grind into a coarse powder.
Dissolve the tamarind concentrate in the hot water. Stir until it is all dissolved. Pour this into a medium saucepan and add the spice blend, mango pulp, cilantro, and salt. Stir, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer.
Make a tempering oil (this is where the magic happens!): pour oil into a small frying pan, add the mustard seeds and green chiles, and warm over medium heat for a few minutes, until the mustard seeds begin to pop. Then add the curry leaves and asafetida, stir until combined, and remove from heat. Add the cayenne pepper and stir again. Add the finished oil to the soup. Serve hot or warm, with additional cilantro for garnish.

Nutrition Highlights

Tamarind- fiber, B vitamins, iron; antibacterial, lowers cholesterol, lowers blood sugar
Mango- vitamin C, fiber, potassium, antioxidants; benefits immune system and lowers cholesterol
Chiles- heart healthy, lowers blood sugar
Cumin- digestion, iron, immunity
Coriander- lowers blood sugar and cholesterol
Mustard seeds- anti-inflammatory, antioxidants, selenium (for immune system)
Curry leaf- antioxidants; beneficial for cholesterol and blood sugar
Asafetida/hing- antioxidants; digestion, lowers blood pressure, antimicrobial

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