On a recent trip to the US I popped into Trader Joe’s, one of my very favourite stores, to browse and pick up a few treats. A friend had mentioned how much she likes TJ’s dried mango so I wandered over to the dried fruits to grab a package for her and noticed that they also had a dried mango with chili. It’s not certified as kosher but I guess there’s probably nothing un-kosher about it.
Some combinations work really well together and spicy chili is often paired with sweet ingredients such as chocolate in order to give them extra zip. I first saw chili paired with mango back in my student days when many hours were spent in front of Ready, Steady, Cook – a TV show which challenged chefs to come up with something delicious in just 20 minutes.
Mangoes are my favourite fruit and we’re bang in the middle of their season right now. Ottolenghi’s Buckwheat noodle with mango and eggplant has been done over and over as has my mango salsa. Looking up oven dried mangoes on the web lends fairly slim pickings though. If you have a dehydrator – no problem but my kitchen is already filled with lots of unnecessary gadgets picked up or gifted over the years. Otherwise, I came up with a big blank leading me to question – why? How hard can it be? Thankfully the answer is a resounding – “not very!” with only 2 ingredients and virtually no prep time.
To make your own oven dried mango with chili take as many mangoes as you wish and cut them up as you would usually do – I remove the “cheeks” from either side of the stone, then remove the skin and cut them into strips before nibbling on the stone (cook’s treat). I then sprinkled liberally with chili powder and threw them into a low (150c / 300f oven) for an hour and a half before switching of the oven and leaving everything to cool.
The result was fantastic – the sweetness of the mango, chased with the heat of the chili. The mango wasn’t dried out like leather, in fact due to the fact that I’d cut different thicknesses, some of it was still not very dehydrated at all – I would be inclined to slice a little thinner next time. It’s important not to use too much chili or for it to be crazy hot to avoid overpowering the mango. The only problem that I had was putting some aside for my wife to sample later.
Update – wife sampled some. Pronounced it “too spicy”. Should have guessed. Next time I’ll make 2 batches, one unspiced…