Unlike many Indian and Sri Lankan curries, which are bolstered with coconut milk or other braising liquids, this curry from Durban in South Africa is a dry braise with a bit of oil that rises to the top when it’s done cooking. The tart, firm flesh of green mangoes holds up to heat as well as to the savory spices. You can find green mangoes at Indian and South East Asian grocers.
- Prepare mangoes, removing any dark spots on the skin or bruises. Sprinkle with a little turmeric to coat and set aside in a colander resting over a bowl in the sink. You can also skin the mangoes if you prefer.
- In a shallow pot, heat the oil on medium and add the onions. Cook the onions until soft and translucent but don't let them brown.
- Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chiles, and curry leaves and stir with a wooden spoon for a few seconds. The mustard seeds will start to pop. Add turmeric and garlic and stir again. Give the mangoes a shake over the bowl to get rid of any excess moisture and drop them into the pot and coat well in the spices.
- Add the water, sugar and salt and cook without the lid for 15-20 minutes, stirring carefully, or until the mangoes are soft and cooked through but retaining their shape. Lower heat if necessary. Add more water if it catches at the bottom, but liquid must evaporate and the sugar dissolve into the mangoes.
- Place the lid on the pot, lower heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Serve immediately with basmati rice, dhal and vegetable atchar.
Ishay Govender-Ypma is a freelance food and culture journalist, and author of Curry: Stories & Recipes across South Africa. Her bylines appear in Saveur, Food & Wine, Nat Geo, Literary Hub et al. www.ishaygovender.com