Karthakolomban (KC) Mangoes
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Karthakolomban mangoes are a medium to large varietal, averaging 150 to 200 grams, and some fruits can reach up to 500 grams when grown in ideal climates and cultivation locations. The variety has an elongated, oval to oblong shape with blunt, slightly curved ends. The non-stem end occasionally features a small beak mark resembling a point. The mango’s skin is smooth, semi-thick, and taut, ripening from green to variegated shades of golden yellow, green, and yellow-orange. Some fruits may also exhibit a bright red blush if exposed to direct sun during cultivation and have pale lenticels scattered across the surface. Underneath the skin, the dark golden orange flesh is aqueous, soft, tender, and juicy with a succulent, melting consistency. The flesh also encases a central flattened, oblong seed that is inedible and should be discarded. Karthakolomban mangoes release a honeyed, fragrant scent when ripe. The flesh is high in sugar, averaging around 19 Brix, and is low in acidity, creating a very sweet, sugary, and tropical taste.
Karthakolomban mangoes are available during the yala season in Sri Lanka, also known as the southwest monsoon. The variety has a peak season spanning from May through August.
Karthakolomban mangoes, botanically classified as Mangifera indica, is a Sri Lankan variety belonging to the Anacardiaceae family. The sweet cultivar is one of Sri Lanka’s most-grown commercial varieties and is widely sold through local markets as a seasonal delicacy. Karthakolomban mangoes are often labeled in markets as KC mangoes, Karthcolomban, Karuthakolumban, and Kartha Kolamban mangoes. The variety is also known as Jaffna mangoes, a moniker using the name of the cultivar’s native growing region. Karthakolomban mangoes are prized for their flavoring and nutritional properties. The variety is one of the most popular mangoes in northern Sri Lanka and is also exported on a small scale to southern India, but outside of these regions, it is relatively unknown. In Sri Lanka, Karthakolomban mangoes are used in fresh and cooked culinary preparations and incorporated into sweet or savory dishes.
Karthakolomban mangoes are a source of potassium to balance fluid levels within the body, calcium to build strong bones and teeth, copper to develop connective tissues, and vitamin A to maintain healthy organ functioning. The variety also provides vitamin C to strengthen the immune system, fiber to regulate the digestive tract, iron to produce the protein hemoglobin for oxygen transport through the bloodstream, magnesium to control optimal nerve functioning, and other nutrients, including B vitamins, folate, zinc, phosphorus, and manganese. In natural medicines throughout Sri Lanka, Karthakolomban mangoes are believed to hydrate the body and give nutrients that contribute to glowing skin. It is also thought that the mangoes can help with various digestive issues.
Karthakolomban mangoes have a sweet, tropical flavor suited for fresh and cooked preparations. The variety is typically consumed straight out of hand when ripe, discarding the skin and seed. The soft flesh is savored as a snack or addition to appetizers, main dishes, and desserts. Karthakolomban mangoes are served ripe and unripe in markets throughout Sri Lanka. Green Karthakolomban mangoes are sliced and pickled in bags, and the plain green mangoes are used in curries, slaws, relishes, chutneys, and salads. Ripe Karthakolomban mangoes are peeled, placed on a stick, and sprinkled in chili powder, soy sauce, or salt as a snack. Karthakolomban mangoes are favored for dessert preparations, including mousses, puddings, custards, fluff, sago, ice cream, and sorbets. Mango halwa is a common baked cake-like dessert using the fruits as flavoring. As a refreshing beverage, the variety is also blended into milkshakes, slushes, lassis, and smoothies. Try simmering Karthakolomban mangoes into jellies and other preserves like mango murabba or using fresh slices with glutinous rice flavored with coconut as a dessert. Beyond sweet preparations, Karthakolomban mangoes are cooked into curries and rice-based dishes. Karthakolomban mangoes pair well with spices such as curry powder, mustard seeds, turmeric, and cayenne pepper, aromatics such as garlic, onions, and ginger, coconut milk, sugar, and fruits including pineapple, bananas, mangosteen, and jackfruit. Karthakolomban mangoes often ripen over seven days after harvest. Once ripe, unopened fruits will keep for up to 8 days when stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
In Sri Lanka, Karthakolomban mango leaves are a famous medicinal ingredient that strengthens the immune system. The leaves are traditionally sold dried in local markets and are steeped in boiling water as a medicinal tea. Karthakolomban mango leaf tea is believed to help lower blood pressure, cleanse the digestive tract, and calm anxiety. Juice extracted from the mango leaf infusion can be placed in a dropper and used as a natural eardrop for earaches. The leaves can also be ground into a powder, soaked overnight, and consumed to help flush out particles that cause kidney stones. Karthakolomban mango leaves are found on the trees year-round, providing a sustainable medicinal ingredient for Sri Lankan households. In addition to ingesting juices and extractions from the leaves, the mango leaves can be burned into ash and applied topically to burns on the skin.
Karthakolomban mangoes are native to Sri Lanka and were first discovered in the Jaffna District, a region in the northern province. The history of the variety is unknown, but Karthakolomban mangoes spread from Jaffna over time and are grown throughout the dry and intermediate regions of Sri Lanka. There are three main zones throughout Sri Lanka, known as the dry, intermediate, and wet zones, and the dry and intermediate regions span across northern, central, and eastern Sri Lanka. In Jaffna, over 20 varieties of mangoes are grown for commercial markets. Karthakolomban mangoes are one of the top cultivars sold throughout fresh markets, roadside stalls, and directly from growers. The variety is also shipped to markets in Southern India and is sold as a seasonal specialty mango. The Karthakolomban mangoes featured in the photograph above were found at a market in Sri Lanka.