If you haven’t tried a mangonada or a chamango, you are in for a real treat. A mangonada is a fruit-based Mexican mango drink that features mangoes, lime juice, Chamoy sauce, chili powder, and usually features at tamarind straw. Although this drink is Mexican and origin it can be found commonly in states such as California, New Mexico, and Illinois. In some areas, it is also known as a chamango.
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Regardless of the name, the taste is delicious.
If you have the opportunity to try one of these refreshing and flavorful treats, I highly encourage you to give it a shot. Keep in mind also that the recipe can vary from place to place.
What is a Mangonada?
This brightly colored drink not only looks attractive but tastes delicious. This drink is one of the warm weather essential in Mexico, but due to the popularity, it has migrated to the U.S. and is being received with open arms. So what is it that makes this drink so irresistible? It’s the combination of ingredients. It has a sweet, tangy, and spicy complex flavor that can’t be compared to any other drink. Let’s begin exploring the ingredients that make up this blended treat.
The mangonada is all about bold, bright flavor and is designed to by savory and sweet at the same time. The Japanese refer to this flavor as umami. It delivers a punch of sour, sweet, spicy, salty, and tangy all in one blended drink. Unlike other blended cold treats, this particular version doesn’t rely on ice but rather gets its frozen appeal from the mango sorbet used to make it.
Special attention is paid to each ingredient and the amounts of each used. If the person creating the drink isn’t mindful of the measurements, the taste can be thrown off and wind up creating something less than desirable.
Always pay attention to the recipe when making these drinks to avoid wasting time and products. Let’s explore the mangonada ingredients that go into making this time-honored treat to get a better idea about what each has to offer and how much is necessary to achieve the right blend of flavors.
One of the primary flavors that give this drink its tart flavor is the liquid chamoy. Chamoy syrup is an essential part of the uniqueness of this special drink. It is one of the aspects which make this drink stand out from all of the other frozen blended drinks on the market today. Chamoy is made from pickled stone fruit and has a zesty, savory quality.
Chamoy is available as a condiment and can vary in texture and flavor. It is best to stick with a reputable brand and avoid the thicker versions. Purchase a syrup that would be ideal for applying a thin coat to a cup or glass to give the mangonada a zip of flavor. If unsure which type to purchase, doing some research on a site like Amazon may help point you in the right direction. There is usually a Q and A section that may prove to be helpful in finding the right product. You could also ask a retailer that sells the mangonada.
Another familiar flavor that adds tang and tartness this Mexican mangonada is lime. Anyone who frequently eats Mexican food and drinks knows that lime is one of the go-to flavors to add layers of appeal and distinction. It adds a crispy flavor to the sweet of the mango and helps merge the flavor of the chamoy and the chili. In fact, the chili spices used in the chamango can be purchased with the lime added.
Fresh lime is always a plus, however, because it adds a fresher flavor.
A word of caution, however, go easy on the amount of lime added to the drink until you have perfected your recipe. Too much lime can throw off the balance and make the drink more tart than necessary. The chamoy is already adding a tartness and combined with the touch of tamarind from the straw and the chili, it may become overpowering.
Another Mexican staple in both drinks and cooking is chili powder. Chili powder is made from dried, ground chili peppers. It is used as a flavor booster in the chamango. It helps to break up the tartness and the sweetness. Its unexpected layer of flavor creates a bridge between the world of savory and sweet. It is part of the blend that makes that hard to achieve and highly sought after umami flavor.
There are different types of chili powder on the market, so it’s important to avoid the variety that is smoked or have additional flavors unless you use the variety that already has the lime flavor added such as Tajin, a traditional Mexican chili spice found at supermarkets. If you aren’t accustomed to eating spicy food it would be wise to go easy on the chili powder.
It is also important to note that most people don’t put the chili powder directly into the drink, rather, they will rim the cup or glass as well as the tamarind straw used to drink the mixture. It prevents the drink from becoming too busy or spicy. Just a touch on the edge or straw, just like a margarita, is enough to do the trick.
When selecting chili powder, try to pick a milder brand. Some chili powder can be quite hot. Using grocery store-bought versions will help prevent getting a batch that may ruin the drink for newbies.
Tamarind is another Mexican favorite flavor. It is rarely found in the United States unless you visit the ethnic food aisle or you happen to enjoy tamarind soda. Most Mexican specialty stores will carry tamarinds and tamarind straws if you are having trouble finding them for your chamago.
So what exactly is a tamarind?
It is a citrus fruit much like an orange or a tangerine, except it has a stronger flavor and has a higher concentration of citric acid. It can be a strong flavor for people who are not used to its kick of flavor. A tamarind straw acts as a vehicle to deliver a slight flavor of tamarind without overtaking the delicate balance of flavors.
It is easy to add too much tamarind flavor to dishes and treats, especially if there is a complex blend of flavors at work. By using the straw it is just enough to taste and flavor to be complimentary as well as acting as a vehicle to deliver another important flavor, the chili powder! When this drink was invented, much attention to balance and flavor was given when considering this clever addition.
Most people are familiar with the after dinner and summertime favorite sorbet. Just about any fruit can be made into a sorbet, but mango seems to be a favorite across several cultures including the people of Mexico.
Mangos are plentiful in the Mexican tropical climate. They are not only easy to find, but they are delicious and can be added to a wide variety of dishes. Mango sorbet is one of the favorite dessert dishes in Mexican culture. It would only stand to reason that one of the most loved treats, the chamago relies on this heavenly flavor to make is complete.
If you are having trouble finding mango sorbet, I suggest you find a simple recipe and whip up a batch, or two. Probably two, because if you are anything like me, the first one will disappear quickly. A sorbet is easy to create and doesn’t require much time and special kitchen tools. You just need a food processor or blender and some simple, high-quality ingredients. Once frozen, which takes a few hours, you will be ready to create your Mexican mango smoothie.
Orange juice is the base of the drink that blends the mango without taking away from its flavor. Depending on your taste buds and preferences, you may want to use less orange juice than the recipe calls for and add more as you like.
You can always add more, but you can’t take it away.
Most recipes call for about a cup of orange juice per batch but I would add half and then add more if you decide you want to thin out the recipe or add more tang to the mix. If you are adding alcohol, don’t add as much orange juice because your drink will turn out too thin and liquidy. You may also want to add more mango sorbet and less orange juice in that instance.
Use fresh orange for the orange juice if possible, but if you can get oranges near you or find them for a reasonable price, then premade quality orange juice is acceptable. Just avoid the frozen from concentrate variety because it tends to have more of a tart flavor that is less authentic. It will detract from the balance of the drink so don’t sacrifice quality for economy.
Mangonada Alcohol Drink
Of course, you probably have figured by now that someone somewhere thought to add alcohol to this favorite drink. If you like alcoholic drinks, then this one takes the cake for appeal and enjoyability. Just be careful to avoid adding alcohol with a strong flavor because it could ruin the delicate balance of flavors. The only strongly flavored alcohol that would actually work with these fine Mexican flavors is, of course, tequila.
Tequila works with the tart and tangy flavors well, just as it does in the multiple varieties of margaritas. Unlike the margarita, however, the balance of flavors is much more important to avoid one ingredient being overpowering. Some people can’t or won’t drink tequila, and I’m sure the majority of us can understand why. It doesn’t agree with everyone, and the flavor can be an acquired taste.
So what do you do if you want to add some booze to the chamango?
It’s time to turn to the old trusty standby, vodka. Vodka has a very mild flavor and doesn’t overpower the drink, but rather, allows all of the flavors to shine through with a minimal alcohol flavor. One word of caution when using vodka. It is easy to add too much without realizing it. If you want to avoid using too much alcohol, it is best to measure out the shots as a bartender would. This saves you and your guest from drinking too much by accident and helps keep liquor costs to a minimum. This is important if you are having an event or social gathering. Always be cautious when serving alcoholic drinks to others.
As a last resort, if you find that you aren’t able to use tequila or vodka, you can opt for a light rum. Use rum sparingly and avoid using the golden or dark variety. The flavors are much stronger and will overpower the other flavors easily. Use smaller amounts than you usually would and experiment with the mixture before making the drinks in large batches.
Rum would be a good option if you decided to use passion fruit in the mango sorbet because it would help balance the sweeter flavor. Some chefs prefer to use a touch of other tropical fruits to help their drinks stand out from the crowd. There are several recipes online if you want to experiment or grow bored with the traditional recipe. Keep in mind that mangonada ingredients can vary from place to place and chef to chef.
As mentioned before, the recipe for a mangonada or chamango can vary from place to place, but a good basic recipe is as follows:
- 2 cups of mango sorbet or frozen mango
- 1 1/2 cups of mango nectar if not using pre-made mango sorbet
- 1 tamarind straw per drink
- 1 tsp of tajin per straw and more for rimming the glass
- 1 tbsp of chamoy sauce to coat the glass or cup
- 1 wedge of lime squeezed
- 1 cup of orange juice to add to the mango blend
- Mango chunks to garnish
If you have never experienced one of these drinks before, I hope this piece has inspired you to try one for yourself. There may even be some pre-made versions at a restaurant near you. Remember that this drink can go by several names and may feature a few other variations such as passion fruit and mango. You may want to try a few versions before deciding how you feel about the drink and which is your favorite.
If you are hosting a gathering or a party and want to feature this drink in its alcoholic form, I highly suggest you get help from friends to ensure quality and to give you a second opinion regarding flavor and balance. Not everyone has the same palette. What may seem delicious to you may be too much for others. Getting a few opinions and then adjusting the recipe to accommodate most people’s preferences will ensure that you get a warmer reception. You may even introduce your guests to their new favorite summertime drink.
Here are a few closing tips if you are going to attempt to make a chamango or mangonada. Make sure you track down all of the highest quality ingredients you can find. You may need to make a few trips to a Mexican specialty store or even shop on the internet at sites like Amazon.
They carry those hard to find specialty items and they also have fast shipping so you don’t have to wait forever to test out your new recipe. Try to get a friend to help you with the flavor balance if possible. This will make for a fun night in. Also, go easy on the measurements.
You can add more later if you wish.
When using alcohol try to avoid using too much orange juice or syrup to keep the mixture from becoming runny. Always use high-quality fresh fruit and citrus when making this drink. It can be perfect and then ruined by adding fruit as a garnish that isn’t up to par. This means unripe mango or even overripe mango. Frozen mango is also known to have issues with quality so check before you add it to avoid mistakes.
Lastly, don’t forget to have fun making this Mexican favorite and invite your friends to help you finish the batch you create. It’s alright if you don’t make it during the summer too. Most mangonada fans like to drink them year round, but they do make for a refreshing addition to a hot day. Don’t be surprised if you get plenty of requests for a repeat appearance at your next event or gathering.