In the limited choices, what we get is far yummier than what we get skimming through an avalanche of choices.
Every childhood is enriching. It’s the childhood phase that we enjoy our life most carelessly, keeping aside the pressures of studying apart. I have had a wonderful childhood, since in those days, at least the children were more of careless children than competiting peers, which looks to me the case today. Not getting onto a different topic, the message I want to imply here is that in the 80s & 90s when I was growing up, the choices were very limited where culinary specialties are concerned. There weren’t many restaurants, leave aside specialty restaurants and cafes.
I mean, bagels and fettuccini were unheard of; commercial pizzas and burgers were relatively new and introduced in Delhi by Nirula’s (Though one could get them at Hotels); Thai, Greek, Korean or any other cuisine than Chinese were majorly available at upmarket restaurants and hotels only. In fact, Chinese food as it’s fondly called, didn’t have any specific cuisines like Cantonese, Fujian or Szechuan as it is today. For a middle class family, the choices were really too few. Thank god, today it’s not the same.
I remember when as a child I used to ask my granny in the evening to cook something sweet, she would cook sweet bread (cheeni parantha), or vermicelli in milk. These were quick foods that could satiate the tastebuds and hunger pangs. Those days there wasn’t a McDonalds of KFC was around. And if there wasn’t anything, then Mango Shake came to the rescue.
Mango Shake is my all time fav. Any Indian worth his sweet tooth would agree, that there is no better fruit than Mango. Mango Shake is deep engraved in Indian society. It is sweet, so your sweet tooth craving can be satisfied with that. It makes you full, or at least feel full. It is a perfect summer fruit as a cold mango is heavenly. It could be had with just a chapatti. It can be made into a gravy (with green/raw mango). It could be added to fruit salad. It could enhance the flavours of custard by adding chunks of it. It is the perfect ending to a good meal. It’s amazing as a bittersweet chutney. It’s again good as aampapad. It tastes yum in an aampanna which is a great cooler. It’s It is also good for regulating sex hormones (Reach for it now)! And add to it the many varieties of mango, and you are spoilt for choice.
But let me not digress. Here I am specifically writing about Mango Shake. It’s the best thing on earth. And in Northern parts of India, you would find juice stalls everywhere selling Mango Shake in the summers with their own concoctions. It wouldn’t be a very different recipe, but the variety of mango used would differentiate, apart from the garnishing of dry fruits. Oh yes, even the consistency!
Consistency of the shake was a big issue at my home while I was growing up. Folks used maximum milk to minimum mangoes, as mangoes are a hot food (hence bad for pimples). And since it were growing years, liberal dollops of fresh cream (malai) were added which is so hated. I mean it subdued whatever little flavor of mango the shake was left with.
End result: I preferred having Mango Shake at juice stalls. As I grew up, my tantrums were somewhat given some ears, and I succeeded in at least getting more mangoes in my shake while reducing the amount of milk. It’s a different matter that it took some 6-7 hours to digest that thick shake.
And here is what I wanted to write actually (yes, it took me 6 paragraphs to reach here). The best Mango Shake I have had was in the state of Punjab, in one small city called Hoshiarpur. That city was our pit stop or base camp so to say, en route to our native village. And to meet all relatives there, we used to stay for few days meeting the whole clan. Being kids, we used to go out very often to sample the delicacies, be it chhole bhature, aloo tikki, gol gappey, all kind of sweets, sharbat, fruit chaat, jaggery based sweetmeats, and what not!
It was one of those excursions that my cousin Mannu and I stumbled upon a juice vendor who sold heavenly Mango Shake. Can’t say whether he used Dussheri, Langda or Choosa, but the selection couldn’t be better. The consistency was amazing. And then he added hint of Rooh-Abza Sharbat in the mixer, garnished it with cashews, raisins, minutely cut dry dates, hint of shredded coconut, and topped it with Vanilla ice-cream. The good thing about that shake was that it had few chunks of mango as well. That would mean we could even eat that heavenly mango he selected, which also added to the consistency. The shake had so many ingredients that we didn’t drink it, but had it with spoon.
Though I must admit, it’s not the quantity of the ingredients that make the shake heavenly. I think it was coming together of all things that made it so good that it is etched in my mind till date. Other vendors were freely using tooti-frooty in their shake, which I never approve of. So this vendor clearly stood out.
Mannu and I were so given in to that Mango Shake that we went there as often as we could. Folks didn’t give us enough money to splurge, so we would wait to meet relatives with bated breaths. Because it’s a tradition that while you bid goodbye, you are supposed to touch the feet of older people for their blessings. They would bless you and also give you some money in return. So Mannu and I would collect that money and head straight to the vendor.
The memories of those days haunt today as well. Though making that kind of shake ain’t that tough, but who would consume that amount of calories now?
Hence I come back to where I started. Sometimes, when you have little choices, you might get yummier stuff than you’d find skimming through an avalanche of choices.
Recipe for a quick yet yummy Mango Shake:
Get 1 big mango of your choice for 2 glasses of milk.
1 glass of milk
Add them in the mixer/shaker, add few drops of Vanilla Essence (if looking to avoid Vanilla Ice-cream and calories it comes with)
Add honey instead of sugar.
Just half teaspoon of Hamdard’s Rooh-Afza
When you pour it in glass, garnish it with 3-4 shredded cashewnuts, 6-7 raisins and pinch of powdered coconut per glass. Again, if you want, you may add Vanilla Ice-cream to make it sinfully/detrimentally yummy.
Enjoy it sip by sip, bite by bite, over newspaper or e-newspaper, whatever you prefer!