Edible Indian Sunshine

I have been royally stumped by this post. Countless are the times I have sat in front of this screen, fingers bashing away at the keyboards. Within half an hour, I end up grunting with dissatisfaction while deleting all my efforts. It’s been going on for days. The longer I leave it, the worse it becomes. The heart of the issue is not that I can’t come up with anything to say, it’s that I have too much!

I could tell you, about two little sneaky girls, cousins in fact, lying sprawled and half drunk over a mountain of luscious, sticky sweet mangos. In the upstairs store room of their grandmother’s house, piles of sucked out skins and seeds of fruit are lying on the tiled floor, like fallen soldiers after a massacre. Their cotton dresses were soaked and stained with the juice, every limb was sticky and their half asleep faces were streaked with pulp. Even their irate grandmother’s ear tweaking combined with verbal leathering couldn’t bring down the high, or elicit any remorse. The cold bucket of water dumped over their heads by the well, did something to dissipate the sugar driven haze. However, through the day of much scathing, dark looks and muttered breaths of the grown-ups, these two imps chalked it down as one of the best days of summer. Ever. And I, still do.

I could write about how while living in the midst of the cold air and rolling green hills of Aberdeenshire, I searched for edible sunshine in every grocery store and supermarket for the ‘right’ kind of Mango.  How the harvest from Brazil, Israel, Kenya and Australia were but poor imitators of the genuine article I was after. How, when I unexpectedly found a box of them at the back of a tiny, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Indian grocers, made me shriek with crazy happiness and drew worried glances from the storekeeper. The fact too, that I felt a wave of longing for my mother and sister, when I bit into the orange flesh after three years without. How I loved cutting it up and giving my daughter her first taste of my home.

And more, so much more. These are not recollections thats given to any old fruit. It’s reserved for the Alphonso. India is the largest producer of mangos and the Alphonso season in short. During the dry, burning heat of the Indian ‘summer’ months of April to June, these Mangos start appearing. When ripe, they almost seem to absorb and reflect the intensity of the tropical sun in its colour and taste. They are very sweet, with avocado like flesh but slightly fibrous, juicy, deeply fruity in flavour with honeyed notes, a slight acidic back note, means that there is no comparison to be drawn with any other variety. This is not a mango that you chuck into a salad, or use in a curry when it’s ripe. It will dominate the dish and to my mind, it’s a sacrilegious waste of a good fruit. Treat an Alphonso with care, keep it simple.

Which will make you wonder why I blitzed it with coconut milk to make an ice-cream? Besides the fact that this is one of the few ice creams I like, it was an issue of management. My greed compelled me to buy more than we, a family of four, could possibly consume before they rotted. Not only are these the more expensive variety, the thought of them spoiling had my gizzards in a twist. So, with a can opener and some sugar in hand, I turned the juicy pulp, into a creamy, rich but not heavy, sun kissed yellow, lick worthy treat.

I chose not to go with a cooked egg custard base. One, is because I am commitedly lazy and second, I justified such slothful ways by convincing myself that this is the healthier option. Plus I didn’t want any eggy backnotes to this ice cream. So in the end, this is a simple, rather quick to make ice-cream, that does not lack any creaminess of texture for having taken the easy way out.

Now there are two ways of going about making this. One time, I set aside the chopped fruit with the sugar to steep and then cooked it gently, to melt the sugar and soften the fruit. That was when I had several mango varieties at different stages of ‘ripe’. The other time, I had perfectly ripe Alphonso (which tend to be quite soft fleshed), and I just went ahead and blitzed that with the sugar and added in the coconut milk. All that was left to do was churn. Simples. Adding some toasted coconut shavings/flakes would up the ante, but my kids are not fans of ‘bits’, so I left them out.

The only real point to note is that, the quality of coconut milk in this ice cream will determine the outcome. You might just end up with mango and no real coconut coming through, so please, do taste your coconut milk before chucking it into the pureed mangos. I opened up three different brands of cans before I found the one with the best coconut flavour. One was vile which was poured down the sink, the other was good for a curry, so promptly frozen in freezer bags, and the third was used for the ice cream. Don’t even consider the low fat, watered down, barely nutty version. Full- fat or nothing is the way to go. Powdered coconut milk, mixed with water or preferably, cream  (single / half and half etc) would be excellent too.

In short, this is just a bare bones base of a recipe, for you to take and conform to the demands of your own tastes.The thick, pulpiness of the fruit ensures that it can stand up to whatever proportions you prefer. Stem ginger syrup might be a good addition, with or without the coconut milk. Controversially, a sweet chilli syrup (made with water , sugar and chopped up red chillies)  drizzled over fat scoops would be sensational. Trust me. I quite like bringing this out at the end of a curry based meal. It’s still in keeping with the cuisine, but much more soothingly refreshing.

My mind is flooded with so many memory snapshots when I lick at this ice cream and for me, that’s the wonder of food. Something so basic, necessary and utilitarian at heart, can command such a stronghold on your senses. And this ice cream, with it’s rich mango fruit flavour, creamy, smooth and nutty taste, does, and does it well.

Finally, there remains nothing left to say. Enjoy!

To view and print the recipe pdf, click here.

184 thoughts

  1. I’ve just cleared a drawer in my freezer. I will buy mangoes and Chaokoh coconut milk and mangoes on my way home tomorrow morning. I have coconut extract too now (did you see that?) – this will be made by Tuesday at the latest! Me and hubs adore ice cream and this looks too darn fine not too and yes, I agree, it is almost healthy ;)

    1. Glad you like the sound of it :-) It’s so simple to make really, and also, this doesn’t produce such a vast quantity, you know, the kind that calls to you in the middle of the night, drawing you into its bottomless pit!!

      1. Yes, that is the quandary ;). But you’re quite right – a lot of recipes make far more than we should eat before its frozen so solid you break the scoop trying to serve it!

          1. ooo the dreaded “stuff” can keep itself away from my ice cream thank you very much ;). I keep meaning to make homemade Soleros – I think the time is now. Well in four weeks when I’m freeeeee that is! :D

  2. We’re getting some beautiful mangoes at the market here in Costa Rica, hopefully they’ll work. I can’t wait to try this! Do you have coconut milk recommendations? It’s not something I’ve purchased before.

    1. Hello Jes :-) Oooh now, that’s a tough question really, because it depends on distribution. I prefer the Indian produced ones personally, followed by Sri Lanka and then Thailand. I know it sounds crazy, but if you were to taste the native coconut variety belonging to these major export countries, you will find a noticeable difference in flavour.
      I think trial and error is your best way forward. Like I said, if you taste it and you can get a really good hit of coconut, not one that you have to keep smacking your lips together to find, then that would be good to use.
      Thai Choice is a brand here that I quite like, BUT, it isn’t dependable. I have had a fantastic can and a rancid one. Blue Dragon tends to be the one you find all over, and its not that bad. Hervco or something to that effect, is an Indian brand that I quite like.

  3. Oh Carrie, I was there with you in that mango haze!!! beautiful writing……. I totally understand you wanting to look for that perfect example…. I often crave for the perfect too, whether it be Nectarines, Apricots or Peaches, I think its definitely the heat from our Mother lands that make such fruits so divine!!! I will certainly seek out this Alphonso and treat it to a dose of Ice cream… and whilst i’m eating it will fondly think of 2 little girls and their sneaky adventure!!!

    1. Aww Thanks Shaz! I love it when something I have written resonates with someone, even just the one. Makes me feel less nutts! And I agree, there is something about the shimmering heat of the sun that just infuses fruit with the most incredible flavour :-)

      If you do manage to get Alphonso (and usually, Indian/Sri Lankan grocers will have it, but the season will be over in another month..) you must have it just on its own too. Make sure its turned a lovely red colour at the stem and there is sticky juice seeping out, as well as a little give in the flesh. Can you tell I’ve spent far too much time pondering the perfect moment to slice into an Alphonso??

  4. That is how I feel about perfectly ripe red raspberries straight off the bush. Sticky-fingered, lusciously fed, and only slightly scratched! But, oh, I’ve never met a raspberry worth eating from a grocery store.

    1. Hi Stephanie! I haven’t had the pleasure of having a ‘wild’ raspberry and I can imagine it is a thoroughly different fruit from the commercial shop ones. An organic farm close to where I lived in Aberdeen sold punnets off their farm at the side of the road and those were just lush! The only wild berry I had really, were blackberries I picked off quiet side lanes in and around a villa we were renting while we were on holiday in France. Now those, were incredible!

  5. Gorgeous recipe and memories, I love when a food makes you all nostalgic! Have been looking for a reliable coconut based ice cream recipe, must try this out when mangoes are back in season here.

  6. This is a beautiful ode to a deserving fruit! We recently lucked into a bag of these when our neighbors came home with a box–next time I may have to buy the box and share this treat with them!

  7. Another indulgent dessert & post by Carrie. Mmmm the mangoes back home – Karthakolombanis one of the much loved varieties back home plus there is the tinier mango called mee amba. (drool) Your ice cream looks so great & sunny – the perfect treat for the hot summer days. Like they say there’s something special about the mango and coconut combination. If I made this back at my mom’s I know I’d be using fresh coconut milk. Now the hunt for the Alphonso mangoes begins :D

      1. Lol Carrie, you ain’t lazy :) I never thought of frozen mango pulp, hmmmm that’s a great idea mustremember to check the freezer section at the grocery store.

        1. I get them here Rushi, its definitely worth checking out. I wonder if tinned mangoes would work if fresh can’t be had? Don’t know what the taste will be like, but that’s an experiment for the future I think.

  8. The ice cream looks so Yummy !! The mangoes always remind me India.My visits to the Indian grocery store increases during summers to catch hold of mangoes as they arrive. (… one is always not so lucky to get Alphonso, though). It a great idea to buy mangoes in bulk and make make them into this delicious ice cream. This way I can have a taste of my favorite fruit even when it is not available in the grocery store…Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    1. I wait for April, after the New Year, just to see Alphonso’s come in! I like the other varieties too (Priyoor, Sindooram, Chakaragundu, Badami etc) , but the Alphonso, is without question, the best of them all. Do you get frozen mango pulp? That would be fine to use here too, saving the flesh for eating later :-)

  9. I have said it before Caroline, you are a great writer, to which I have to now add a great photographer and having been totally converted to your Garlic Prawn Curry recipe, a great cook! Unbeleivable concentration of talent in one person! Love this post and all that is in it and it evokes!

    1. Och Sam!!! Thankyou, you are very generous and I am so chuffed that you found the Garlic Prawns good enough for repeat performances. That’s the biggest compliment you could have given me :-)

      1. My gosh, they were good. I’ve been on a serious waffle kick lately. This weekend was blueberry-lemon. So good. Your post though is making me seriously consider an ice cream maker. The idea of mango and coconut? Oh my.

        1. I recently bought a waffle iron but haven’t had the time to indulge them, so seeing your pumpkin ones really tempted me and I’ll be bringing them out this weekend.

          An ice-cream maker? Essential piece of kit, in my book! I have a Kitchen Aid Mixer and use the ice-cream attachment for it which is perfect. Means I don’t have another separate machine competing for cupboard space. I keep the ice cream bowl attachment in the freezer (make sure it fits before buying!) at all times so that it’s ready to go on a whim.

          1. Ah- excellent point! I’ve been trying to work out a deal with a friend about buying her kitchen aid from her. She lives in the city with very little counter space, so we’ll see. Then, the ice cream attachment! Brilliant!

            1. Oh good luck with that Robin. My KA is indispensable I find, even for muckier jobs like mixing meatballs, koftas and the like. Comes hugely handy when colouring fondant too.

  10. You make it look so easy! Sounds delic. I never would have combined mango with coconut. Tx!

  11. i remember squealing just the same way when i discovered three whole cartons in the back of the indian off-license around the corner from a friend’s place. needless to say, we bought a whole carton and gorged ourselves on mangoes till we were covered in sugary stickiness. but oh so happy!

  12. Beautiful recollection and beautiful mangoes! We make lots of homemade ice creams here in the summer and I am always partial to the fruity varieties. My children are not, which means I don’t have to share! I’d bet I couldn’t get my hands on a beautiful Alphonso… but I can cross my fingers and wish, right?

    1. Thanks Heather :-) Which fruity ones do you make? Well this ice cream would make a lovely tubs worth for your gorgeous self ;-) Alphonso’s would probably be hard to get where are but any nice tasting ones would do.

    1. Hi Becky! This recipe uses only coconut milk. The cream was an alternative should canned coconut milk be difficult to get a hold off, or if you have powdered coconut milk (cream) that needs using up. As it is right now, it is dairy free :-)

  13. Looks and sounds divine! i just wrote a nostalgic post where i mentioned how we sucked the juice out of mangoes as kids :-)

  14. :] My boyfriend is from India and is always talking about the mango tree in the back of his house and how good they were.. I obviously am yet to try one though haha… Definitely going to go to an Indian store to get good mangos and make this!! I’ll probably eat it before he gets a taste though..

  15. Oh my, I love your writing style and the photos are so creative. I also like the recipe and printed it out to try.

  16. This was such an amazing post! I am an unapologetic mango lover myself. The mango season is fast coming to an end in my country as the heavy rains approach and I can’t think of a better way to commemorate the fruit until the next mango season! My mum just brought me a basket of mangoes yesterday and I am DEFINITELY going to try this recipe! Thank you!! Will let you know how it pans out :-)

  17. Do you shake all the ingredients in the blender? Or do I need a special device for making an ice cream? I can’t even look at the photos your posted without salivating:-)

    1. Well you will need a blender to puree the mango, but the rest can be combined by hand. Once you have the base all mixed up, you can cool it and then churn in an ice-cream maker. If you don’t have one, then pour the mix into a airtight container. If it’s a long one, like in the picture, it makes things easier. Then, give it a couple of hours to semi freeze, take it out, thrash it around to break the crystals, put it back in to freeze for another couple of hours. Do this two more times and then allow to freeze for at least eight hours. Let it sit on the counter for 10 minutes to ‘ripen’, soften a bit, before serving. Doing it this way, will still give you ice cream, but it might not be as smooth /creamy as the one you can get using the machine. However, I wouldn’t say no to a scoop, or three! :)

  18. Do you put all the ingredients into the blender, or a special device for making an ice cream needed to make this – indeed sun-like-looking – desert?

    1. Well you will need a blender to puree the mango, but the rest can be combined by hand. Once you have the base all mixed up, you can cool it and then churn in an ice-cream maker. If you don’t have one, then pour the mix into a airtight container. If it’s a long one, like in the picture, it makes things easier. Then, give it a couple of hours to semi freeze, take it out, thrash it around to break the crystals, put it back in to freeze for another couple of hours. Do this three more timesand then allow to freeze for at least eight hours. Let it sit on the counter for 10 minutes to ‘ripen’, soften a bit, before serving. Doing it this way, will still give you ice cream, but it might not be as smooth /creamy as the one you can get using the machine. However, I wouldn’t say no to a scoop, or three!

  19. I just stumbled upon your blog, and I must say you have a really charming space. I was even more delighted to read that you live in Doha. Oh wow! I’m a Doha resident too, and so glad to find a blogger from around here :)

    Can’t help drool at your pictures, Caroline. Ice cream looks so luscious and delish. And beautiful memories to go with it!

  20. This post made my mouth water. After weeks of slurping mangoes (and yes, there is few greater than the Alphonso), Im now determined to spend my weekend ice-cream making. Im so glad from your above comment that an ice-cream maker isnt necessary; otherwise Id have to run out and invest in one. Although, if you keep the ice-cream posts coming, I probably WILL cave and invest.

    P.S Im so yay your mother sent me here!

    1. KYRA!!!!!!!!! OH MY GOD! It’s been years!! How are you? In fact email me! LOL! Lovely to see you here and have had a quick mooch around your blog. Intend to visit it often…

      And honey, an ice-cream maker is NEVER a bad investment :)

  21. I promise to let you know once I try it. I KNOW I’ll write about it on my blog! I am hopping with excitement as it is. I live in Lagos, Nigeria :-) PS: I am also going to try your garlic prawn recipe; I am a seafood afficianado!

  22. Sometimes it’s hard to fit everything you want to say into one post. This ice cream looks absolutely incredible – the colour and texture is simply stunning :-)

  23. You must have read my mind. I was staring at two luscious mangoes yesterday, thinking……..these would make great ice cream! Thanks for doing the prep work.

  24. Oh my goodness, that sounds I have to try and make this. I’ve yet to find alphonsos here and there really is no other mango that compares.
    I love the story about you and your sister falling asleep after gorging on mangoes! Delicious mangoes are one of the many things I miss about India.

        1. Ah I see. We are planning a trip to Oman next year probably. I hear from so many people about what a gorgeous country it is ;-) As for mangoes, I am assuming that Toronto has a large Indian/Asian population, so there would be Indian greengrocers of some description where you may be lucky enough to find them.

          1. Oman is the well kept secret of the Gulf. I’ve yet to see beaches that compare, and Salalah during the khareef is spectacular.
            I will have a look at ‘Little India’, where all things subcontinental are sold, for alphonsos.

  25. What amazing mangoes! What amazing photos! But more importantly, what amazing food and what an amazing chef :) Really inspired! If only I could get a couple of these Indian mangoes —

  26. Hey i love your blog! You’re such an amazing writer and your blog is sooo appealing! I’m starting my own blog and you’re a hugeee influence :D Thank You!

  27. I just got an ice cream maker and mangos are on sale… Must be a sign! Can’t wait to try this!

  28. Hi Caroline! I made the ice cream and served it as dessert after lunch today; it was a huge hit. Your recipe truly brought some sunshine to my dining table. I couldn’t thank you enough. :-)

  29. I love this article! I do agree, that the best Mango I have had in my area were from a really tiny Indian grocer. Your article is very well wrote. It is not only informative in how to make this dish, but it is also very effective in capturing your spirit and guiding us (the readers) on the same journey you went on to create it.

  30. Wow…that looks amazing! Time to get my ice cream maker out. Such a great post…love your writing and beautiful pictures! I have total blog envy right now! I look forward to making this an posting it on my blog…juicybites.net

  31. The beautiful color of mango like turmeric is so soothing.. The ice cream looks absolutely yum. And congrats on being on the wordpress news page for summer food blogs !!

    1. It was a surprise of a most pleasant nature! Thanks :-) I agree about the colour..it’s quite powerful visually, the way it makes you feel. I am pretty happy about eating it too!

  32. Wow, this looks sooooo delicious! I love mango and coconut, and I’ve never made ice cream before, but I’d like to try this! : )

    1. It’s a simple enough recipe to break into! An ice cream maker gives the best result, but you can always do it by hand, though it might not come out as creamy. See the comments above for details on ‘manual’ ice cream making :-)

  33. I just saw your blog. I liked it very, very much.
    Mango is my favourite fruit, and since it is mango season, I’ll definitely be trying this out.

  34. Fantastic writing, beautiful photos, and wonderful sounding dessert. And I’m so excited it’s dairy free!

  35. This dessert sounds truly delightful, I will be making this tomorrow as a treat. Being gluten free, its difficult to find natural great tasting ice creams and since I consume mangos daily this is a perfect combination! I had to repost this on my blog because it is just to wonderful to not be shared. =) Thank you

  36. Amazing blog you have here, I like your writing style, it was almost like reading a children illustration book because of the descriptive scenes with the children, and the setting is possibly a village in India I’m guessing? Or at least it could be. So in writing this blog was well worth the time and frustration, it was beautifully well written, and the photos are stunningly delicious :)

    1. How lovely of you to say. And yes this was one of the summers I spent in Calicut, Kerala in India when i was around eight years old I think. I reckon it was one of the best days of my childhood. Things were so simple then :-)

  37. What a GORGEOUS blog! I am so thankful to have found you on food gawker! Your photos are lovely and your stories bring me right into the very room you’re describing. It’s almost as if I was pulling out that mango flesh too. I really look forward to exploring more!

  38. What a beautiful blog! Did you do the illustrations on your header? They are so lovely. I have never had an Alphonso mango. I must start hanging out in Indian grocery stores. This week I have been gorging myself on Altafulo mangoes. I made a mango lime sherbet with whipping cream but now I must try it with coconut milk. And I will add some toasted coconut. I love the “bits!”

    1. Hiya, yes, I did do the illustration. Glad you like it :-)
      Keep your eyes peeled for Alphonsos (pardon the pun!), they are wonderful. I haven’t come across an Altafulo one, so shall be googling. I love the sound of your sherbet though..bet that was delicious!

  39. Beautiful! And I love how you made ice cream with coconut milk! I love eating mangoes with a little coconut milk drizzled on top. I love Alphonso, but I also like Badaami, Neelam and Bangarapalli about as much. But yes, because Alphonsos are a less fibrous they are great for dessert.

  40. I love ice cream and this look absolutely delicious. I’m defiantly going to the supermarket tomorrow for the ingredients. I’ve never attempted making ice cream before so should be fun.

  41. This looks incredible. My wife is pretty much addicted to ice cream and we both love mangoes and coconut. I did like your idea of adding the ginger syrup, that sounded good. Thanks again for the post. Beautiful pictures by the way of all the ingredients.

    1. Once you have the base all mixed up, cool it in the fridge after pouring the mix into a airtight container. If it’s a long one, like in the picture, it makes things easier. Then, give it a couple of hours to semi freeze, take it out, thrash it around to break the crystals, put it back in to freeze for another couple of hours. Do this three more times and then allow to freeze for at least eight hours. Let it sit on the counter for 10 minutes to ‘ripen’, soften a bit, before serving. Doing it this way, will still give you ice cream, but it might not be as smooth /creamy as the one you can get using the machine. However, I wouldn’t say no to a scoop, or three!

  42. Hey your recipe seem to be a pure deliciousness … And your pictures
    are beautifull what camera do you use ?

  43. Hi there, could youbprrhaps add link to the recipe? I tried to open the link you have provided but it doesnt open. These ice cream looksnso amazing i am drooling just reading your paragraphs. desperate to get the recipenin print. Thanks!!

  44. i love fresh fruit and while most of the time i cant eat it because my throat gets scratchy idc i love it. but call me stupid how much of each ingredient and how does the process work. can i just make it up and place in freezer? do i need a ice cream maker? I have read the story and think it is wonderful and cant wait to try it. please let me know it will be a very big plus here in our fl home. i am raising 3 of my grandkids and we are trying to eat healthier with out depriving ourselves. thank you

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