Special on this year’s menu is a zesty Mango Salsa!
Mangoes are a big affair in Karnataka. So, this year when the cultivation of the ‘king of fruits’ was hit by a number of climatic factors - such as unseasonal rain and the heatwave - it did dampen the spirit of the farmers as well as fruit lovers in the state. Every year during the mango season, people look forward to relishing the different varieties of mangoes cultivated in the state - including Dashehri, Alphonso, Totapuri, Badami, Mallika, Neelam, Malgova, Kalapad and Sindhura. Nevertheless, the ongoing ‘Mango and Jackfruit Mela’ at the iconic Lalbagh Botanical Garden restores hope that not all is lost after all. And now, the city is gearing up for the much-talked-about ‘Mango Party’ at Ranga Shankara.
After two digital editions, thanks to the pandemic, the popular community mango-eating event is back at the legendary theatre hub that brings people from all walks of life under one roof to celebrate and savour the fruit that they love the most - mangoes. Somewhere between 300kgs to 500kgs of nearly 50 indigenous varieties of mangoes are gobbled up in a matter of hours at this yearly event, which is typically held on a Sunday. This year, the ‘Mango Party’ is slated to take place on June 19, and the entry fee is ‘1kg mango per head’.
Held under the guidance of veteran theatre personality and founder of Ranga Shankara, Arundhati Nag, the event sees noted director MS Sathyu, film and television actor Sihi Kahi Chandru and many other literature, arts and culture icons, as well as a host of theatre and movie artistes flocking to the venue to eat and discuss mangoes. They also bring along with them baskets/bags of mangoes as well as traditional home-cooked delicacies like Mango Chitranna, Mango Chaat, Mango Gojju and Mango Saasive among others.
At the performing arts hub, Anju Sudarshan takes charge of serving some unique mango dishes, the demand for wish keeps rising year after year. After all, who can possibly say no to a Mango Cake, Mango Custard, Grilled Mango Sandwich (made with fresh mango slices), Mango Rice, Aam Panna, Aam Ras, Mango Kulfi, Mango Shrikhand Puri, Mango Pudding and Mango Pani Puri (both with raw and ripe mangoes) to name a few.
A Malayalee brought up in Mumbai and now living in Bengaluru, Anju is a passionate cook who says that her culinary inspirations are a mix of coastal cooking styles and Karnataka’s local produce. So, what’s special on this year’s menu? “It’s going to be the Mango Salsa, made with both raw and ripe mangoes, among the other mango specials, of course,” says an elated Anju, who runs the café at Ranga Shankara. “More than anything else, it is the sheer joy of coming together to eat, talk about and celebrate the local varieties of mangoes that make this event an important day for all of us. Due to the incessant Covid-induced lockdowns over the past two years, we had to take the initiative online, but this year we are looking forward to having the energy and enthusiasm back at the venue in a non-digital avatar,” she adds.
Besides the mango-eating spree, there will be theatre songs, storytelling and other competitions - all based on mangoes. Some of these will be conducted online this year too. To serve you a bit of trivia, did you know that the ‘Mango Party’ at Ranga Shankara is older than the theatre hub itself? It’s been held there since 2003, whereas the place was officially opened only in 2004.