One of the most sinfully sweet and flavoursome mangoes of Malda is the famous Himsagar. Locally known as Khirsapati, this native mango thrives in the district of Malda especially along the banks of the Mahanadi and Kalindi rivers where, the entire stretch is dotted with old and new orchards appearing as an unbroken expanse of foliage from afar.
There are many gardens belonging to the zamindars established in the early 1700s covering hundreds of acres of land that still produce excellent quality mangoes. There are always mangoes available in Malda and locals say that it starts off with the small varieties of Gopal Bhog and Brindaban followed by Langra, Khirsapati (Himsagar), Kishan Bhog, Kalapahar, Bombai and other varieties. Fazli comes in as the largest followed by Aswini that rounds up the season.
The red soil of older alluvium soil and tropical weather conditions in this belt is conducive for growing indigenous varieties that are much sought-after abroad and by processing industries for value-added products.
Khirsapati aam is harvested in June using a local tool in the early hours of the morning. The fruits are collected in crates and kept in the shade till it is ready to be transported. The fruits are sorted according to its physical characteristics and subjected to the important process of de-sapping. They are thoroughly washed, cleaned, graded, waxed individually with the approved water wax, dried and packed in cartons.
The storage life of the fruits is about 11 days at ambient temperature. The mango is yellowish orange in colour, weighs about 250 to 350 grams with about 77 percent pulp content and good keeping quality.
This fruit hardly has any fiber, is oval in shape, medium to big in size with a thick rough skin and deliciously sweet. The sugar/acid blend is excellent and TSS is 16 °Brix. Slices of green mango are dried in the sun and sold across India. Aam sotto, a unique Bengali preparation made out of mango pulp and concentrated sugar solution which is then sundried and packed is in great demand both in India and abroad. This is used to prepare various Bengali dishes and can be preserved for months. Condiments, jams and pickles made from the green mango are also very popular in the market.
The ‘pride of Bengal’ was granted the Geographical Indication Tag (GI) in 2008.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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