Spicing up your curry with mangoes

Spicing up your curry with mangoes
Ripe mango curry by Sylvia Tan. Photo: The Straits Times


I'm crazy about mangoes, any which way, but I never thought I would find them in a curry, until I tasted this dish at Tandoor restaurant at the Holiday Inn in Cavenagh Road.

The chef's grandmother used to make it. He began serving it because it was part of his food memories. It is now a fixture on the menu as many patrons come back for it.

I, too, fell in love with it when I ate there and decided to try cooking it.

It is sweet and spicy, and what could be healthier than a curry made with just mango and spices and thickened with yogurt?

I use full-fat yogurt, but only half a cup. You could use low-fat yogurt instead if you want to watch your fat intake.

By the way, you can buy freshly made yogurt, or what they call curd, at curry stalls in the wet markets.

The creaminess of the curry actually comes from the fruit pulp. The fruit is mashed to thicken the gravy, though I like to set aside a few of the larger pieces to add to the pot later.

I make this dish whenever mango season comes around - which means all year round really, as mango is always in season somewhere.

Choose ripe but firm specimens - I guess Indian mangoes would be the most suitable.

This curry brings a buzz to the table as it is an unexpected dish.

Yet, it is a traditional dish, from Kerala in India. Locals there add coconut milk and jaggery (an Indian brown sugar) to the pot.

I leave out both as I feel the mangoes are sweet enough.

It is quite a simple dish. Many Indian recipes include a long list of spices but, here, only two are used - chilli and turmeric powder.

However, you need to temper (fry in oil) some whole spices to add fragrance to the dish.

I learnt this technique when I had a Sri Lankan helper. She would happily temper spices, garlic, onion and curry leaves to add to curries, giving both visual and olfactory hits.

And while I might wax lyrical about the deliciousness of this dish and the ease of cooking it, mangoes are also extremely healthy.

They have fibre, vitamins, minerals and, like many richly coloured foods, lots of antioxidants.

New research studies suggest that eating mango could protect against colon, breast and prostate cancer, as well as leukaemia.

Mangoes are an excellent source of vitamin A and flavonoids, such as beta-carotene and alpha-carotene.

Vitamin A helps keep the skin and mucous membranes strong, and a study published in the journal of the American Society for Nutritional Sciences reports that beta-carotene reduces the size of cancerous tumours and protects the body from developing them. And just one mango gives you between 25 per cent and 40 per cent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin A.

Mangoes are full of vitamins C and E too - both powerful antioxidants. Many people know oranges are rich in vitamin C, but did you know just one cup of sliced mango gives you 45mg of vitamin C or more than 70 per cent of the RDA?

Apart from all that, mango just tastes good, especially in a curry.

Sylvia Tan is a freelance writer and cookbook author. Her previous recipes for Eat To Live can be found in two cookbooks, Eat To Live and Taste.



2-3 ripe mangoes

1 tbs chilli powder

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp salt or to taste

½ cup plain yogurt

Water, as needed


½ tsp black mustard seeds

2-3 dried red chillies

1 sprig curry leaves

Fried onions, available in packets


Peel and slice off the flesh from mangoes. Reserve half of the cheeks.

Place half of the mango slices in a pot and sprinkle with the spice powders and salt. Add water to cover the mangoes.

Bring the mixture to the boil and mash the cooked mangoes using a fork or a blender. Add the rest of the mango pieces to cook for just a few more minutes.

Prepare the garnish by tempering the ingredients. Add one tablespoon of oil to the pan and fry the mustard seeds till they sputter.

Add the curry leaves and dried red chillies and fry till they turn brown.

Serve the curry, stirred through with the yogurt, garnished with the tempered spices and a sprinkling of fried onions.


This article was first published on July 21, 2015.
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