Taste Buds: Mango & Chili Powder

Chef Roberto Martin shares his favorite culinary pairing, tangy mango with the heat of chili powder, perfect for barbecues and warm days.

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Roberto Martin, chef/owner of eLOVate, opening this spring in Los Angeles, and author, most recently, of Roberto’s New Vegan Cooking, shares his favorite culinary pairing: mango and chili powder.

As a child, I got hooked on this pairing from pushcart vendors in Rosarito Beach, Mexico. Most carts offered a combination of watermelon, mango, honeydew, cantaloupe, and cucumber; I loved how the vendors sprinkled the produce with chili powder, salt, and fresh lime juice just seconds before they handed it to you in a paper cup. The fruit was always cold, juicy, and ripe, but all I really wanted was the mango!

Unlike the other fruits in the combo, mango has a tangy sweetness that perfectly balances the heat of the chili powder. The key is to use a flavorful chili powder like ancho or guajillo chili powder. I love to serve fresh-cut mango and chili powder at barbecues, and my wife and kids have grown to love the pairing too. It’s really refreshing on a warm day.

For another tasty pairing, purée a ripe mango with lime juice, a garlic clove, and a pinch of sea salt to make a dressing, then toss the dressing with some baby spinach and field greens, and sprinkle with chili powder and toasted pumpkin seeds. You are in for a bright, tangy, and healthful salad with a little kick.