Mangoes, Mumbai and mania go hand in hand. Last week, almost 92,000 Alphonso mangoes arrived at Vashi’s APMC market. However, chances are that the fruit your vendor is selling you is a poor cousin from Karnataka. With an expert in tow, sunday mid-day sets out on a quest to find the real Devgad Alphonso in the city
Mangoes seem to be entering the market in abundance. Last week itself, 92,000 mangoes made its way into the Agricultural Produce and Marketing Committee (APMC) Market in Vashi. Devgad Hapus (better known as Alphonso) is available from end of February till mid-May. This variety of mango is famous for its sweet taste, thick pulp and aromatic flavour.
Niranjan Dikshit and the reporter at Mahatma Phule Market and (below) at Byculla Market. Pics/ Atul Kamble
However, it’s not uncommon for traders to fool customers into buying Ratnagiri or Karnataka mango in the name of Devgad Hapus as the latter fetches a premium price and helps traders earn quick bucks. This came to light when Sunday mid-day decided to go looking for the Devgad Hapus to four markets across the city along with Niranjan Dikshit, an advisor to the Devgad Taluka Amba Utpadak Sahakari Sanstha Ltd. Dikshit said, “The climatic conditions and the soil of Devgad taluka gives this mango its unique sweet taste, thick pulp and aroma.” Here’s how our trail panned out:
Ratnagiri mangoes being passed off as Hapus
2.50 pm: Crawford Market
We entered the market and started visiting the shops. Except for two shops, we didn’t see the original Devgad Hapus. When we reached a shop inside the Mahatma Phule Market in shed no 4, we asked for Devgad Hapus. The seller showed us a peti of Ratnagiri mangoes and quoted a price of R1,100 for a two-dozen peti. Dikshit insisted that if these mangoes were sold as Ratnagiri mangoes then they wouldn’t command such a price. So, vendors were trying to sell them as Alphonsos. He also said, “Ratnagiri mangoes have a narrow and slightly elongated bottom. This feature distinguishes them from other varieties.”
3.50 pm: Breach Candy Market
We stopped at Siyaram Fruit Centre and asked for Devgad Hapus in various sizes. Dikshit seemed impressed but only till he heard the exorbitant prices of the mangoes. “These are actual Devgad mangoes which are spotless, soft and matured well on the trees. But they are exorbitantly priced,” says Dikshit. One dozen of Devgad Hapus was being sold for R800-1,500 depending on their size, when the actual price was anywhere between R400-1,000.
4.25 pm: Byculla Market
At the Sant Gadge Maharaj Mandi fruit market at Byculla, we stopped at one of the shops where we saw a large produce of mangoes. But most of them had black spots. Dikshit explained, “The reason is that when an insect sits on the fruit, it leaves a layer before flying off. This causes a black spot when the fruit ripens. So this produce is either rejected or is sold at a cheaper rate,” says Dikshit. We stopped again at shop no 25 and found a decent produce of Alphonsos. However, the smaller size of the fruits failed to impress us.
5 pm: Lalbaug Market
At our first stop, we realised the vendor was trying to sell us Ratnagiri mangoes as Devgad Hapus. Except for three shops that sold mangoes from Padel in Devgad Taluka, everyone else offered us another variety in the name of Devgad and quoted Rs 550 for a dozen.
After a four-hour ordeal, we concluded that only few shops in the city sell genuine Devgad Hapus.
1. The Devgad Hapus is available in gradients of yellow and green. It is not fully yellow
2. As the fruit matures on the tree itself, it should be soft to touch
3. The pulp’s colour should be saffron
4. The fruit’s skin is thin and can be peeled off easily