Recipe Type: Vegan, Gluten-Free
If you like mangoes, lime juice, and chili powder, then this refreshing tropical appetizer is the definition of hassle-free deliciousness. No cooking involved.
Now let’s talk mangoes. Besides the avocado, the mango is my most favorite fruit in the world. It’s luscious. It’s meaty. And when it’s ripe, it’s seriously sweet. My love affair with this fruit began when I lived in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico as a twenty-year-old. It was there where I quickly discovered that street vendors were selling a variety of diced fruit covered with lime juice and chili powder. And in many places, street vendors were turning a mango into a flower on a stick-basically a mango popsicle garnished with chili powder and lime juice. Pretty cool, right? In the future, I will feature the mango-popsicle on my blog. But for this dish, we’re going to keep it simple.
When making this appetizer, I prefer to use ripe mangoes for the sweetness factor (If you prefer a flavor that’s more tart, you can use some that are not fully in their prime). While some people try to determine if a mango is at its peak in sweetness by observing its color, a more reliable way to identify if a mango is ripe is to feel it. When gently squeezed, a ripe mango should feel slightly soft, but not squishy (A mushy feel can indicate that a mango is overly ripe). And if you’re like me and don’t care what you look like when grocery shopping, you can also smell the area around the stem. It should give off a sweet aroma.
Once I’ve diced the ripe mangoes, I prefer to season them a little at a time. That way it’s easier to make sure that there’s just enough of a tart flavor from the lime juice, heat from the chili powder, and flavor enhancement from salt – without being overpowering – to still enjoy the sweetness of the mangoes. It’s all about personal preference.
*2 mangoes, diced or bite-size chunks (Preferably ripe) (See cook’s note)
1 lime, cut into four wedges
Chili powder (Adjust to taste)
Salt (Adjust to taste)
*The mango contains a long, flat pit in its center. You will want to cut near the pit, while avoiding it to the best of your ability. When dicing this fruit, it helps to first cut a thin slice off the bottom of the mango (The rounder end) so that the mango can stand on its own on a cutting board. Next, while holding the mango securely with one hand, use a good knife to cut as close to the pit as you can - slicing in a downward direction from the top of the mango to the bottom (The knife should be positioned a bit off-center at the top of the mango before you start slicing in a downward direction to increase your chances of avoiding the pit). Note: If you make contact with the pit, you can move your knife farther away from it and simply slice in the downward motion from top to bottom. Then repeat on the other side of the mango.
Now you have two mango halves (Known as “cheeks”), and the portion of the mango that contains the pit. Technically you could just dice the two mango halves/cheeks and call it a day, discarding the pit. Or you can try to remove what you can from the pit portion. To dice the two mango cheeks, place one mango half skin-side down on the cutting board. Without cutting through the skin of the mango, score the mango lengthwise and crosswise. Next, you can flip the mango half inside out so that you have multiple mango cubes popping up. Please see the picture below of a scored mango cheek that has been flipped inside out:
Then, cut the mango pieces away from the skin. Now you can celebrate that you have lovely chunks of mango to work with!
1. Cut the mangoes into dice-size or bite-size chunks. Place the newly-cut mango cubes on a plate or platter (If saving for later in the day, cover the platter with plastic wrap and refrigerate. You can season the mango right before serving it).
2. Next, squeeze the juice from one lime slice over the mango chunks. Gradually repeat this process if you would prefer to dress the mango with more lime juice.
3. Sprinkle the mango with chili powder and salt, adjusting to taste, and serve. Enjoy!
Yield 2-4 servings.
Note: This appetizer is at its best when served the same day.