The mango crop has suffered this year giving them only a twenty five percent yield. This gets reflected in the prices as the Alphonso is available from Rs 100 to Rs 325 a dozen depending on the quality and the size of the fruit. Ravindra Bhadsale, one of the stall owners has come from Jamsunde in Devgad. He has around 300 trees which yield him 800 petis throughout the season. He picks the first fruits on February 25 which are sold to the wholesale market at Vashi and the last on May 8. He says that his fruit is superior as it is from Devgad, a region where the trees grow between the red laterite stone called ‘jamba dagad’. If they have to plant a mango ‘kalam’, the stone has to be blasted and soil added around the sapling. The roots then go digging through this stone. The iron content in the stone adds the red color to the fruit and giving a better and sweeter taste to the mangoes from this region.
Not Just Mangoes
If mangoes are not your scene, there are more than fifteen stalls selling many other Konkani specialities. You can buy buttermilk dried chillies which make an excellent accompaniment with curd rice. They have various masalas like the Malvani masala, goda masala, special garam masala and the spunky coconut garlic chutney. Various mango products like amba vadi, mango pulp and saata, a preparation of pulped mango, rolled and dried under the sun. Buy the fansacha saata (Jackfruit saata) and jackfruit chips to give you a true flavour of the Konkan region. Also available are cashewnuts and khaja – a kurkure look-alike made of jaggery, besan and ginger.
Kokum is synonymous with Konkani cuisine. But do you how kokum is made? Kokum is made from Ratamba (Garcinia indica), a fruit from the plum family. The pulp and peels of the Ratamba are separated. The peels are soaked or smeared in its juices and sun dried. This is repeated often till the skin shrivels up but retains the red/purple colour and the slightly astringent flavour. This is now kokum, which is used as a souring agent in cooking and for making sol kadhi. Ratamba is used to make kokum sherbet. At one of the stalls “ Devi Sateri Amba Vikri Kendra”, you will be able to buy the Ratamba fruit at Rs 40 per kilo and kokum at Rs 80 per kilo.
Papads and Pickles
Go to the Grihani Papad Udyog stall and you will get to see home-made papads and pickles of all kinds. Papads made of palak, nachani(ragi), tomato, poha, methi, potato, corn, garlic, sabudana and a speciality “thecha papad” which is made of grounded fresh green chilly. Pick up the poha and nachani papad or the kurdai (made from rice flour they look like round vermicelli) which is traditional to this region. There were an equal assortment of pickles from the regular garlic, kaccha mango, lime, amla, to karvanda, gajar and karela. Lakshmi Kamble of G.P.U. says that she makes all the pickles at home and the most popular is the garlic one.
So go to this festival for a slice of Konkan with lots of luscious mangoes thrown in and you might be tempted to visit this beautiful coastal belt. If you are, on your way out you just have to contact the Kokan Tours stall who would give you a choice of tours for this region.
You can visit the festival this weekend at the Nardulla Tank Maidan, Next to Ravindra Natya Mandir, Prabhadevi till 29th April 2007. 10 am to 10 pm. It then shifts to Borivali and Thane.