Mangos, from Lucknow to Goa

The rich history and business of Indian mangos includes everything from a single mango tree that produces 300 varieties in Malihabad, Uttar Pradesh to Goan mango Malgesh, which means "difficult to digest" in Portuguese.

Preeti Verma Lal

May 16, 2019

Mangos, from Lucknow to Goa

That summer afternoon, on the rutted road to Malihabad, the mango capital of India 21 miles from Lucknow, I was counting. I was counting the children of Afridi Fakir Mohammad Khan Sahib Goya, the Afghan who started the mango village many centuries ago. He had 11 wives and 52 offspring. I was also counting the 700+ mango varieties the town produced — 300 on a single tree.

In the early 1900s, Malihabad was home to nearly 1,300 mango varieties, and rich nobles would develop new mango varieties on a whim. Today, Malihabad is still the mango capital of India, but due to a lack of commercial interest, the rough count has dwindled down to 700.