Mango Madness

Chef Vikram Sunderam shares his favorite picks of the season—and where to get them.

Lots of amazing produce is coming into season now that it's warmer, but when you can get hothouse goods almost any time of year at the grocery store, it's hard to tell which fruits and veggies are truly at their natural peak.

Mango fans, I'm here to tell you-this is your time. And I'm not just talking about any old mangoes. I'm talking Alphonso mangoes, which rank pretty high on that nectar food chain of the gods.

Vikram Sunderam, the acclaimed chef at Rasika (locations in D.C.'s Penn Quarter and West End), tells us we can get these Indian delicacies at local markets from now through June.

Indian Spices in Falls Church (1067 West Broad Street, 703-532-1777) is expecting its first shipment on May 14, although the store owners recommend calling first to confirm the goods are in stock. Bottom line: get 'em before they're gone.

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What's so great about the Alphonso?  It's naturally sweet and not at all fibrous, says Sunderam, a James Beard Award winner who lives in McLean. He enjoys the fruit plain, but is also partial to a good mango lassi, that refreshing Indian drink made with yogurt.

Here's his recipe:

1 lb. full-fat plain yogurt
4 Alphonso mangoes
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon green cardamom powder (available at Indian markets)
1/2 cup water

Peel the mangoes and cut the fruit into cubes. Purée the fruit with the rest of the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Serve chilled.