The less known mallika mango, which was cultivated and sold in the shadow of its more famous counterparts such as the alfonso and the dussehri, has lately come into its own and is gaining popularity. More about the mallika mango.
The mallika arrives a little later in the mango season. Pics: By arrangement
The mallika mango has a fan club of its own with its admirers willing to pay whatever it takes to enjoy the fruit. However, for decades now, it has remained in the shadow of its more flamboyant and famous counterparts such as the alfonso and the dussehri.
While the mallika mango saplings were introduced to Lucknow and its surrounding areas as far back as 1975 by the Central Institute of Subtropical Horticulture (earlier called Central Mango Research Station), the mangoes never became as popular as the chausa or the Lucknow safeda that people turn to at the end of the dussehri season.
However, this year, the mallika has jostled and found itself a place in the shops. Hitherto, because it was not so easily available or visible, people were unaware of its qualities. For many years, only a few mango cultivators grew this mango, but, lately, many more have realised that the mallika mango is bursting with taste and is quite a remarkable fruit.
The mallika arrives a little later in the mango season and has a better yield, say orchard owners. It is cultivated commercially in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and sells there at a good price.
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The mallika is a hybrid of the neelam and the dussehri mangoes, but is much larger in size than either of its parent fruits. Sometimes each mango weighs as much as 700 grams.
If the mallika is harvested at the right time and not plucked too soon, its taste is beautifully sweet and sour. The pulp of the orangey-yellow mango is firm and luscious and its seed is thin and flat.
It has taken nearly forty years for the mallika to become a favourite with mango lovers, but now the demand for the fruit has increased, said a mango vendor at Gomti Nagar in Lucknow.
But now, there is a demand for saplings of the mallika mango tree in various mango-cultivating regions of the country. The people of Japan are said to be particularly partial to the mallika.
There is little to beat in a mallika that has ripened well and been harvested at just the right time. It can give its more illustrious counterparts such as the alfonso, dussehri and chausa a run for their money.
Shailendra Rajan is director, ICAR-Central Institute of Subtropical Horticulture.
Read the story in Hindi.