Ah, mango. The sticky, juicy star of many a summer fruit feast, a surprising range of savoury recipes, and now, Mastermind.
In SBS’s new Celebrity Mastermind series, there’s a mango under the spotlight, with creator and star of Legally Brown, comedian Nazeem Hussain, bringing a fine specimen of the Aussie favourite with him to the set.
It might seem an unusual choice for a specialist subject on the iconic quiz show, but there are more than a few surprises lurking behind the smooth skin of this humble summer favourite.
Do you know where they were first cultivated? What the pointy bit at the end of a mango is called? Where in Australia the Big Mango is? (And is it up the right way??)
In Celebrity Mastermind, each of the four contestants takes “the lonely walk to the iconic black chair”, as host Jennifer Byrne explains – not nerve-inducing at all, eh! – that each contestant has two minutes to answer questions on their specialist subject.
“I’m not an expert, I just like mangoes,” Hussain confesses when he takes the seat. You can watch below to see if he does manage his goal to correctly answer at least one question, but to get you in the mood just before that, here are some fun facts about the marvellous mango, and a few of our fave recipes for using them. Take this show-stopper mango, chardonnay and pecan tart. Put it on your party list!
Of course, Australia has a Big Mango
Bowen in North Queensland is home to a 10-metre tall mango. It gained national and international attention back in 2014 when it briefly disappeared (after all, making a three-storey tall fruit disappear is quite a feat!). It turned out to be a bit of a publicity stunt by chicken chain Nando’s and was soon back in its rightful position. There’s been debate across the years about whether the mango is the right way up – should it be shown pointy end down, or up?
What’s the name of that pointy end?
Spoiler alert. This one does pop up in Celebrity Mastermind. The pointy end of a mango is called a beak.
Dog bites and dressings
Given the mango (Latin name mangifera indica) has been cultivated for around 4000 years, it’s not surprising that various parts of the mango tree and fruit, including roots, bark, leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds, have had a wide range of uses in traditional medicine traditions. It has been used to treat everything from dysentery to stings, anaemia and asthma, and even rabid dog bites. Mangoes contain mangiferin, an antioxidant with analgesic, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. (That old saying 'let food be thy medicine' looks pretty good when you see something like these Indian kulfi ice-blocks).
Australia’s most popular mango is …
The mango we love most is the Kensington Pride, which makes up almost half of the mangoes grown in Australia (and if you spot something called a Bowen mango, it’s usually a Kensington). After that, the Calypso makes up just under a quarter of production, followed by the R2E2 (nothing to do with Star Wars - it takes its name from the row and position in the field of the original tree of this large, colourful version ), the Honey Gold and the Keitt. Other varieties grown in Australia include the Palmer, Kent, Brooks and Parvin. The mango season starts in September and runs through to March, or possibly April, depending on where you live and what mango varieties are grown. Find out more about when each is in season here.
Possibly the ultimate Aussie way to enjoy a mango …
True, it’s hard to beat the sticky fingers, ‘devour it straight off the mango seed’ consumption of this glorious tropical fruit (or, the slightly less messy version of slicing the flesh off first). But for an ultimate combination of two Aussie classics, we offer you this recipe for the mango custard vanilla slice.
Another Australian claim to mango fame: the yum cha pancake
For many Sydneysiders, the obvious and traditional end to a yum cha is a cold, plump, bright orange-yellow pancake, filled with sweet cream and mango. But it seems this Chinese restaurant dessert tradition isn’t Chinese at all, but another way Australia has found to embrace the mango.
Fridge or fruit bowl?
But what if you buy a mango (or a tray of the glorious green-gold-blush beauties) and it’s not yet ready to eat? Should you store it/them in the fridge, or out in a fruit bowl? The answer is fruit bowl – while they ripen – and then you can, if you need to, pop them in the fridge, which will hold it, ready and waiting for you, for several days. Just don’t put them in plastic bags – paper or fabric bags are best, as these allow the mangoes to breathe. You can also slice the flesh off the mango and freeze it for later use – excellent in Donna Hay’s super easy mango and banana yoghurt gelato.
How you attack your mango depends in part on how ripe it is, and how thick the skin is. The hedgehog is one name given to the method of slicing the sides (known as cheeks) off the mango, cutting a hatched pattern into each cheek, and then turning each cheek inside out so the cubes of mango separate, ready to be sliced off. Put the cross-cut cheeks to use in this recipe for Egyptian grilled chilli mango.
On the savoury side
While they often appear in sweet recipes – we’re looking at you, upside down mango cake, caramel mango and banana tart or Thai mango and sticky rice – that’s only half the story. The punchier flavour of green mango is fantastic in fresh salads, this Gujarati mango pickle or Sri Lankan amba mulawa (mango curry).
Which mango shares its name with an alcoholic drink?
To find out the answer, other fab mango facts, such as where they were first cultivated, watch Nazeem Hussain as he takes a seat in the Mastermind spotlight, mango in hand:
Watch more stars including Adam Liaw, Courtney Act, Joel Creasey, Jessica Rowe and more in Celebrity Mastermind, Saturday nights on SBS, then on SBS On Demand, with the grand final coming on March 21. Check the Program Guide for more details. Find more great recipes in the SBS Food mango recipe collection.
Layers of sweet meringue and mango ripple ice-cream combine together with toasty coconut flakes and roasted macadamias tp make the ultimate tropical cake – sunshine on a plate really and the perfect summer celebration cake.
At my restaurant Antares we serve this mango kulfi as a refreshing dessert. The oat crunch is definitely worth making – it’s a great texture and flavour combination. If you have time, try making the coconut mousse too.
This salad is inspired by the flavours of Thailand and the balance of hot and sour with salty and sweet. Traditionally, this dish would be paired with fish, but it works well with most types of seafood. Definitely a fresh recipe to bring out this summer.
The West African republic of Guinea’s food culture has been heavily influenced by its colonial past, and this dark, caramelised fruit tart – flavoured with rum and vanilla, and cousin to that French classic, tarte Tatin – is its embodiment.
What’s not to love about tacos? They're the perfect combination of popping flavours, crunchy salads and creamy dollops of dressing, all wrapped up in a shell, ready to ooze between your fingers and drip down your arms. These tacos are full of health-promoting goodness, plus they're gluten-free and super simple to make.