by Iyath Adam
In the Maldivian cuisine, both ripe and unripe mangoes are used in a variety of savoury and sweet dishes, both as a main ingredient and flavour enhancer.
Maldivian mangoes or Dhivehi anbu typically refers to dhon anbu (ripe mangoes) and are a delicacy in themselves. Smaller than Indian or Sri Lankan mangoes with a vibrant sunshine-yellow colour and soft, stringy flesh, Dhivehi dhon anbu has a distinctly sweet, juicy taste unlike any other.
During mango season, which comes twice a year in April and October, crates of these golden fruits can be found lining the local farmers markets, ready to be bought and consumed.
Traditionally, dhon anbu is best enjoyed on its own – either as a fruity snack or dessert – or made into fani or juice, typically for lunch or iftar time. Nevertheless, like most local fruits of recent, mango has also become a dessert flavour of its own. Anbu pirini, dhon anbu fudge and anbu saagu fani are sweet dishes made by incorporating mangoes into classic desserts.
Although ripened mangoes are usually used in sweet dishes, one exception to the rule is dhon anbu riha – a sweet and spicy curry, best enjoyed with rice and some satani.
Unripe mangoes or huiy anbu – green, sour, and tangy – is very commonly mixed with lha falho (unripe papayas), helenbeli (tamarind), kihah (immature coconut) chillies and rihaakuru to make anbu majaa, a local delicacy.
Huiy anbu can also be sliced up and eaten dipped in rihaakuru as a savoury snack or put on mas kaashi platters as a zingy accompaniment. It is also added to cooked dishes such as curries, kiru garudhiya, kulhi baiypen and thelli rihaakuru to add acidity and tartness.
Maldivian mango pickle or anbu asaara, made with havaadhu and unripe mangoes, is a delicious condiment, eaten with rice and different side dishes such as garudhiya and rihaakuru dhiya. Sliced up green mangoes are also mixed with onion, chillies, and lime juice to make anbu satani – the Maldivian version of salad – for a zesty side.
Huiy anbu fani, made with unripe mangoes and a little bit of white sugar is kind of the Maldivian version of lemonade. Sweet, sour, and refreshing, the perfect drink for mango season!