Can we talk about how hot and humid it is? Like it’s an Olympian task to even stand in the kitchen. However only with the summer monsoons are we able to get one of the most glorious fruits ever created, the incredible Mango, or ‘aam’ in Urdu.
There’s a reason it’s known as the “King of Fruits and the Fruit of Kings”. Dating back thousands of years, this rich fruit was a favorite amongst the Mughal emperors. In fact it is said to have not only helped pursuits of diplomacy but also caused household disputes between father and son, Shah Jehan and Aurengzeb over hoarding of the majestic fruit. There are supposedly over 400 different varieties across the world, but mostly ranging from the Chaunsa, Sindhri, Anwar Ratol, Dasehri, Maldaha, Langra etc. within Pakistan. Our mangos are very sweet, the intense heat of southern Punjab and Sindh allow a sufficient ripening of its natural sugars. We simply have no patience for the tart variety you get in other countries, masquerading as ‘aam’. My favorites will always be the Chaunsa, Dasehri and cute little Anwar Ratols, the flesh of which we simply massage to a pulp, lift off the nib and suck out the pulpy juice right from the fruit. No need for knives, forks and plates.
I only know these names because throughout my life, my dear father, Aboo, has been an aficionado of mangos. Once summer came around, there would not be a single day our fridge was empty of aam. He would venture out in the blistering, sweaty heat to make sure to choose a variety of the best quality mangos from the local ‘phal-wala’ or fruit vendor. He often told us hilarious stories of his childhood in India, when he and his cousins would put on theatre style plays for the adults dressed up in ghagras and saris only to sneak mangos under them. They would then run outside and finish off entire buckets of Anwar Ratol or Chaunsas. He made sure we learned about his favorite fruit, with an ability to distinguish the shape, taste, color and size. Even through the early stage of his diabetes, he was often caught sneaking out mangoes at 1 am, sometimes eating over the sink, to satisfy his cravings. It makes me nostalgic for those times of vivacious energy and passion Aboo had. As he has grown older, especially within the past year he has gotten ill, and it’s really taken a toll on his mind and body. In an attempt to control his blood sugar, we have had to strictly monitor and control his consumption of fruits. Needless to say it makes him melancholy…
Anyway, back to the summer and heat. Normally that means popsicles, ice lollies and ice cream. Unfortunately, I don’t like the commercial ice cream made here. I don’t want to get into a long story about it and come out sounding pretentious, but seriously Pakistan, get it together! We don’t want “frozen dessert”, we want real creamy ice cream. So sometimes, I just make my own, and trust me when I say this. It just tastes so much better. I make mine with a simple Creme Anglaise or custard base, and it’s never a fail. Always rich, creamy, smooth, velvety, luxurious and delicious. Once you make the basic vanilla creme anglaise, you can add any variety of flavors to change it up. Here I make a mango (duh) ice cream, but you could just as easily add:
- mint essence and chocolate chips (mint choc chip)
- crushed Oreo cookies (cookies and cream)/ brownie chunks and caramel
- strawberry or any other fruit compote
- maple syrup and walnuts (maple and walnut)
- coconut and pineapples (pina colada)
Now, while it is a lot easier to make this with an ice cream churner, by no means does that preclude you from making it if you don’t own one. Until a couple of months ago, I didn’t own an ice cream maker and even the one I did buy is not top of the line. It just gets the job done, although there is more planning involved, since I have to freeze the ice cream bowl that it comes with at least 24 hours ahead, (basically there is a special liquid inside that has to freeze solid for it to work), I do prefer it to the other method, mentioned below.
Without Ice Cream Maker Method:
Take an ice cream container. I just used a recycled plastic Hico ice cream 1 liter bucket and its lid. Pour your prepared and chilled custard in it and seal shut. Place in a the freezer. After 2 hours check if the top layer has started freezing, if it’s still liquid, put it back and check again in an hour or so. Once the top starts becoming the texture of soft serve ice cream, take a fork or electric beater and scrape the top and sides where ice crystals start forming. This aerates your ice cream, which essentially a churner does. If you don’t do this, you will not have a smooth, creamy texture at the end, rather a crunchy, icy one, which no one wants. You will need to do this at least 3 times after ever one hour. Then you can just let it be. Once its frozen, (careful not to keep in a too cold freezer, it will over-freeze and become rock solid) you are ready to scoop it out and serve with your favorite toppings.
Ingredients: For 1 Liter Ice Cream
- 500 ml or 2 cups Cream
- 500 ml or 2 cups Milk
- 3 tsp Vanilla Essence
- 6 Tbsp Condensed Milk
- 3 Egg yolks
- 2 Whole Eggs
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp Corn Starch/Corn Flour
- Tiny pinch Salt
For Mango Ice Cream:
- 1 cup diced Mangos
- 1 cup Mango Puree
- I used 3 Chaunsa mangos for this. Half diced and half blended to a chunky puree.
- In a large saucepan on a low heat, stir in the milk and cream. To this, add the condensed milk and vanilla essence. Stir and bring to a light simmer and remove from heat. (If making chocolate or coffee flavor, those flavors/mixtures/syrups need to be added at this point)
- In a large bowl, take your eggs and egg yolks and add the sugar. Beat until it is light and fluffy. Add the corn starch and salt.
- Take the warm cream and pour half of it into the eggs. This is to temper the eggs. Make sure not to add scalding hot milk to the eggs, or you will cook and scramble them. And that means getting little eggy chunks in your mouth, ew. Mix, and pour it back into the saucepan and put back on a low heat. Kept stirring to thicken like custard.
- You’ll know your custard is ready and thick enough when you run a finger down the back of the spoon and the dividing line stays steady and liquid doesn’t merge into each other.
- Take off heat and bring to room temperature. Once cool enough, cover with a plastic cling wrap, making sure to touch the surface of the custard with it (see video). This is so that a skin doesn’t form on the custard. Refrigerate. It needs to chill a couple of hours.
- Prepare your flavors in the meantime.
- In your prepared and frozen churner’s ice cream bowl pour the custard. Operate according to manufacturer’s instructions. The ice cream needs to churn for 20-40 minutes. After that stop the machine and add your flavors (fruit, nuts, syrups etc.) Churn for another 10-15 minutes.
- Transfer into an ice cream container and put in the freezer. After a few hours your ice cream should be ready.