I hate wasting food. Whilst it’s not often that something gets thrown out in our kitchen, I have to admit that it does happen sometimes, making me berate myself internally (and occasionally externally.) A few days ago, I bought some golden, pretty much perfectly ripe mangoes. They were like fruity nectar, all juicy and delicious, and most got eaten just as they were, but I had plans to make an ice cream with one of them. Annoyingly, I never quite got around to that, and the last luscious mango began to show signs of demise, its once flawless skin developing wrinkles and age spots. Meanwhile, I did a fairly good job of arranging the fridge so that it was almost hidden at the back, all the better to studiously ignore it, but not quite enough to stop the guilt pangs.
Fortunately for the mango and myself, a recipe popped up on my reader for (a healthier than usual) mango halwa, and with it, an opportunity to save my beautiful fruit. Most of it, anyway – I had to discard about a third, but the rest was still perfectly usable, and so I had to try the recipe – it was so serendipitous it was irresistible. I’ve always loved carrot halwa. Softly fragrant and stickily sweet, I have to be in the mood, but when I am – it’s bliss. I’d never tried the mango variety, so I was interested to see how it would turn out. I adjusted the original recipe slightly, using ground almonds instead of cashews, adding a bit of zip from the zest of a lime, and cooking it for a little less time to give a softer consistency. I also improvised the recipe around the amount of mango I’d salvaged – 150g – and so changed the amounts of the other ingredients accordingly. It worked really well, giving a small, but perfectly formed sweet, easily dividable into four generous, or six restrained portions to nibble with a cup of tea.
Ingredients (scale up for more servings)
150g mango, diced
15g ground almonds
15g unsweetened dessicated coconut
Zest of 1 lime
A pinch of saffron
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
10g pistachios, roughly chopped
Blitz the mango together with the coconut and ground almonds until smooth.
In a non-stick pan, melt the butter. Add the saffron, cardamom, lime zest, blitzed mango mixture, and sugar, and cook over a medium heat, stirring often, until the liquid evaporates and the mixture turns into a paste. Bear in mind that chilling things lessens their sweetness, so adjust the sugar to suit your taste buds, if needs be. The longer you cook the halwa, the firmer it will be – I cooked it for fifteen minutes, which resulted in a soft set, which nevertheless sliced well.
Line a small dish or ramekin with a double layer of cling film, then spoon in the halwa and press down to compact it. Sprinkle with the nuts, then chill for a couple of hours, or until set.