The Aam-azing Aams of Bengal

Summer is here and so is the ‘Aams’, Mangoes that is. The market is already being flooded by Himsagar and Lyangra and in smaller quantities the Banganpalli or the Totapuri or the Fazli.

Aam, being the most important fruit of the state, is cultivated in about 80.90 thousand hectares of land, which is more than 41 per cent of total area under fruits. Because of its nutritive advantage, mangoes have gained pandemic solicitation and is justifiably called the ‘king of fruit’.

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A little history of Aam-

Did you know that the word Aamra” is found to be mentioned in the “ Brihadanyak Upanishad” composed in and around 1000BC? Historians have concluded that mangoes have grown in the subcontinent for nearly 4000 years. Historical records say that the Mughal emperor Akbar had ordered to plant one lakh mango orchards at Darbhanga, (Lalhbag). Abul Fazl in his book “Ain-i-Akbari” mentioned a number of mango varieties cultivated in Gaur and Pundra.

In the travel detail of Hieun Tsang, mention of mangoes of Pundra and Gaur area is found.

Though references of the luscious and delicious mangoes have been found much before the realm of Murshid-Quli Khaan, yet it is he who can be attributed with the veneration of having experimented with various species and varieties, and taken real care of them; like a true connoisseur.

When Murshid Quli Khan transferred his capital from Dhaka to Murshidabad in 1704, he encouraged mango plantations. We find his love for mangoes documented in the writing of G E  Lambour in Bengal district Gazetteers in 1918 as …”Malda has long been famous for its mangoes, it is recorded that Nawab Murshid Quli Khan used to send an armed Guard for the trees of which were reserved for his use.

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Enough of History…A Quick look at some of the varieties

But do we really know how many varieties of mangoes Bengal has? Hold your breath! There are 124 varieties of mangoes cultivated in the Murshidabad district only! Some fantastic mangoes are also cultivated in Malda and Midnapore, taking the number higher.

Murshidabad – Alone produces a variety of nearly 124 types as earlier mentioned.  Let’s have a look at the beautiful names associated with this divine fruit – Champa, Molum Jung, Saranga, Rani, Bimli, Peyara Fuli, Ranibhog, Madhuchuski , the Kohitur to name a few.  Most of these varieties have tales surrounding them, for example Rani was named by Nawab Prasanna Narayan Deb because of it’s extreme delicacy. The Koh-i-Tur is the show-stopper and is so delicate that each fruit is wrapped up in medicated cotton and kept aside. It is said to have been created during the reign of Siraj-ud-Daulah  when his royal mango breeder called Hakim Ada Mohammadi cross bred two varieties, strictly for Royals.  It now sells for as much as …. well, Rs 1500 a piece!

Malda –  The best known varieties from Malda are the Fazli,HimSagar,Laxmanbhog, Lyangra, Kala Pahar and the GopalBhog to name a few.. Just a small information, the KalaPahar mango is one of the ingredients that went into the creation of the famed Koh-i-Tur.

Anyway… enough of these didactic discussions…. Dig into some chilled ‘Aam’ this season, and enjoy a pleasure that’s divine…

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