Summer in India is incomplete without mangoes. The season is very short so when mangoes are flooding the market people love to eat them straight from the box. But they also prepare a rich variety of mango-based delicacies to make the most of this annual bounty. Aamras is one such traditional sweet delicacy popular in Maharashtra and Gujarat.
‘Aam’ in Hindi means mango and ‘ras’ means the nectar of the fruit. So ‘aamras’ is essentially the pulp or juicy nectar of mango either squeezed by hand or blended. It’s really very simple to prepare but brings out the best of the wonderfully fragrant juicy mangoes grown in India. I may be biased but for me, they are the best mangoes in the world.
In Maharashtra, ‘aamras-puri’ is a popular meal and is often served at weddings, to mark the celebration and festivities. It’s also customary to include aamras as part of a thali meal when the mango season is in full swing. Believe it or not, aamras is traditionally enjoyed by dunking either puris or chapatis in it as part of the main course, a notion my English husband fails to understand. If, like him, your food brain can’t handle seeing something sweet served with the savoury course, don’t worry, aamras can also be eaten as a dessert after the main meal. I, however, still prefer the traditional way.
There are no rules – eat aamras any way you like! In the end, the silky, sweet yet very subtly tart flavour and smooth (or not so smooth, if made traditionally) texture of aamras will leave a delicious lingering taste in your mouth, asking for another bowlful.
What varieties of mango are best for aamras?
In Maharashtra, it is typically made with local Alphonso mangoes (called ‘Hapus’) which are smooth, silky, less fibrous with a thick pulp and thin skin, which makes it easy to squeeze those juices out. But you can use any local variety of mango as long as it’s not too fibrous. During my years growing up in India, I saw my mum make aamras with other indigenous varieties like our own farm-grown pairi, dasheri, langra and kesar. Some of these are quite fibrous too. But since they’re juicy and local, they are often a popular choice for aamras in my region.
How to choose mangoes?
For aamras, the mangoes should be ripe and as fresh as possible. I normally buy a box of green mangoes and ripen them at home. That way I get to pick the mangoes that are just right for aamras – neither too ripe nor under. It is important that the mangoes are not rotten so steer clear of the dented ones with black marks.
How to prepare mangoes for aamras?
According to Ayurveda, Indian mangoes are considered extremely warm for the body which is not ideal in summer if you’re eating a lot of this seasonal fruit. So to impart a cooling effect, it is advisable to leave the mangoes in cold water for at least 2-3 hours before preparing them. Then rinse them well with cold water and pat dry. Now they’re ready to work with.
What is the traditional way of making aamras?
My grandmother would simply use her hands to squeeze out the mango pulp. After thoroughly rinsing the mangoes in a big bowl, she would pat them dry with a cloth. Then she’d start loosening the flesh inside the mango by massaging it all over with fingers whilst holding it between the other hand’s thumb and index finger. She’d remove the stalk and the dark bit on the top and squeeze out the flesh into a bowl without removing the peel. The seed would also pop out into the bowl and she’d completely drain the juices out of it by hand. As for the leftover peel, she’d rub the peels together with a bit of water and then drain the rinsed water with the remaining mango goodness into the bowl of pulp. Finally, she’d squeeze and rinse the seeds to get the residual pulp out. You see, our ancestors didn’t waste a thing! She’d simply stir the pulp with a ladle and add a bit of sugar depending on how sweet or sour the mangoes were. Nothing else! No cardamom or even ghee! Just plain hand-squeezed aamras pulp.
Her aamras would have some texture from the mango fibers and a spoonful in the mouth would have hidden surprises of fleshy lumps that tasted divine when eaten with pooris. Personally, this is how I like to eat aamras, even today.
Mango seeds can be propagated to seedlings and planted back in the soil. Or they go into the compost bin. Or can be used to make mouth-freshener.
Maharashtrian AamrasCourse: Main, DessertCuisine: Maharashtrian, IndianDifficulty: Easy
3 alphonso mangoes
125ml or ½ cup water
Sugar to taste
Water to rinse the mangoes
- Rinse, then pat the mangoes dry with a cotton cloth.
- Hold a mango with your thumb on the top and index finger at the bottom. Using the thumb and fingers of the other hand massage the skin to loosen the flesh inside, rotating as you go. Do the same for each mango.
- Once the flesh inside the mangoes has loosened up, pinch out and discard the black stalky bits.
- In a deep, wide bowl, squeeze the mango pulp out through the opening where the stalk used to be, retaining the peel. When the seed pops out squeeze its pulp into the bowl too.
- Rinse the leftover mango goodness from the peels by rubbing them together under a little water, poured slowly into a separate bowl. Similarly, rinse the mango seeds. Transfer the resulting liquid into the mango pulp.
- Add sugar depending on how sweet the mangoes are. Then stir with a ladle and leave in the fridge for 30 mins before serving. Enjoy with puris.
- Sometimes I remove the stalk (step3) (as seen in the video) before massaging the mango to loosen up its flesh (step 2).
2 servings per container
- Amount Per ServingCalories303
- % Daily Value *
- Total Fat
- Saturated Fat 0.5g 3%
- Sodium 7mg 1%
- Potassium 847mg 25%
- Total Carbohydrate
- Dietary Fiber 8.1g 33%
- Sugars 69.1g
- Protein 4.1g 9%
* The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
What is the modern way of making aamras?
The modern way uses the good old blender to purée the mango flesh. You end up with a thicker consistency than you get with the traditional hand-squeezed method. I have shared the express version of aamras recipe here.