Got Amo! Goa’s new Mankurad Mango
Got Amo (Mango) ! Goa’s new Mankurad mango grown in the yard of Thomas Antonio da Costa will be the talk of the town, once the research scientists prove and confirm the authenticity, color and aroma of the mango.
Margao-Goa: Mangoes of Goa cover the largest area under fruit crops in Goa that exist in a large number of varieties. The different species available in the state indicate the support extended to the mango by the Portuguese. Among all the mangoes, Mankurad, also known as Goa Mankur, Kurad, Malcorado, Corado etc, is the most popular variety that is available throughout Goa. It has a long history of cultivation and is known exclusively as a table fruit. The Portuguese named it Malcorado meaning poor coloured and in time this word transformed to “Mankurad”.
The Goan Mankurad is restricted to local markets where they fetch decent prices. It is learnt that there was an attempt to start exporting Mankurad mangoes a few years ago, but it did not work because of a very peculiar problem: what exactly is a Mankurad? The problem with the consignment of mankurad mangoes sent to Europe was that they were not of a uniform size, quality or taste. Since then research scientists have been experimenting on Mankurad for decades. Scientists are now possibly close to creating the ‘perfect’ Mankurad, after having collected, tested, and grown some of the best varieties of Mankurads found in Goa over the last two decades.
Mankurad is supposed to be a mid-season fruit, should have a uniform yellow colour, less fibre, an agreeable balance of sugar and acidic qualities, and should be free of spongy tissue. But few weeks ago, a large mango, with higher pulp content than the popular Mankurad and desirable quality parameters suitable for commercial exploitation, has gripped the attention of scientists at the Indian Council of Agricultural Research Centre (ICAR), Old Goa. Scientists are closely analyzing samples of the fibre-less mango picked from the courtyard of Thomas Antonio da Costa, a resident of Novangully, Varca, (near Colva-Margao) for its table qualities. Each mango weighs 400 to 500 gm but has a strikingly small and flat stone and is elongated. Its flavour has also stirred interest.
A Senior scientist (horticulture) at ICAR-CCARI had said that the edible quality of the fruit is excellent. The light, orange coloured pulp looks similar to that of the Mankurad, but has a very different aroma and flavour. The suitability of the pulp as raw material for processing is being examined. The pulp, once processed, can be used in various products, ranging from jams and syrups to mango-based beverages. Due to the fruit’s higher pulp-stone ratio, about 80% of its flesh is firmer, as per the research scientists.
I had the privilege of visiting Thomas Da Costa’s house, where last time I had done an article on the antique museum that he runs. Having read in a national newspaper of the unique Mankurad mango grown in Costa’s garden, I was curious to know more about this interesting and unique mango. Thomas speaking to Team Mangalorean said that the century-old mango tree hadn’t been yielding fruit for the last several years. “The tree existed before my mother was born, but didn’t provide much fruit…may be just five or so during a season. But, the tree’s sudden, late season produce of 200 mangoes in 2014, and between 125 to 150 in 2016 has amazed me, my wife and kids, and also our relatives and friends. The fruit has a unique flavour and tastes a bit like cinnamon. It also has a longer shelf life,” added Thomas.
Presently, the ICAR scientists, however, are unwilling to comment on these characteristics, as they collected only a few samples for analysis. Unlike the case of the Mankurad, which has an attractive yellow exterior, the one that is grown in Thomas’s garden may not be a case of love at first sight for mango lovers because it is greenish-yellow when ripe, but once it is sliced, its aroma and the colour of its pulp is tempting. Trying one mango that was offered to me by Thomas, I really loved the taste and the aroma. It was much better than the Alphonso mango.
Another notable feature is the mango’s aromatic sap, a quality that even the mancurad lacks. This makes the fruit extremely suitable for pickling while also staving off fruit flies, possibly adding to its shelf life. Goa is believed to have once been a hot spot for mangoes with over 100 varieties. Many of them may have been lost due to urbanization. Sources reveal that ICAR-CCARI has a germ-plasm collection of 72 Goan mango varieties. The total tally, with the inclusion of introduced varieties, is 123. It is learnt that the scientists are still trying to trace more.
In conclusion, Mankurad is very much loved in Goa — for its consistently glowing golden colour, for its unusually complete lack of fibrosity, and especially for extraordinary ‘sabor delicioso’, that typically delicious and complex, Mankurad taste of honey and caramel tempered with hints of allspice and cinnamon. And once the research scientists give okay for this unique Mankurad mangoes grown in Thomas Costa’s garden, it will be yet another history in the world of Goan mangoes. Long live the Goan Mankurad Amo!