Punahou Carnival 2012

Photos courtesy of Punahou School

Left: Frying the famous malassadas. Right: local produce at the fruit and vegetable market.

It's threatening to rain and it's the first week of February—Punahou Carnival must be around the corner. (This weekend, in fact, Feb 3 and 4, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.)

I once gave my dad a jar of the famed mango chutney. He tucked it into his carry-on luggage, forgetting the whole no-liquids thing, and TSA stopped him. My dad said Oh well, he'd just leave the chutney behind then (What!? Did he know how long I had to stand in line for it!?). The TSA guy said, "No way. This is Punahou Carnival mango chutney. You don't throw it away. Check your bag in now."

And that was one of my first lessons in 1) how much people love food here, and 2) the legend and lore of Punahou Carnival.

What doesn't attract as much attention as the malassadas and chutney at the Carnival is the fruit and vegetable stand. But if anyone can make fruits and vegetables exciting, maybe it's Punahou Carnival. Rumor is there's a bounty of Kona oranges coming in. So maybe if you can't snag a jar of chutney, orange marmalade may be in your future instead.

Some fun facts on the carnival:

  • The Carnival typically sells around 150,000 malassadas each year, however, last year's sales were a record-breaking 172,000 malasadas.
  • The malasadas booth first opened in 1957 using an original recipe from Punahou's then-cafeteria manager, Minnie Marciel.
  • 5,000 pounds of whole mangoes are donated for the carnival, which make for 8,000 jars of chutney.

Mango chutney sold out? Make it yourself with the following recipe, from the Carnival cookbook, To Breakfast and Beyond ($15, with other recipes like Portuguese bean soup and laulau. Proceeds from the cookbook as well as other Carnival activities, support Punahou's financial aid program).

Carnival Mango Chutney
10 pounds mangoes (green or half-ripe)
3/4 cup salt
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large onions
3 to 4 cloves garlic
8 ounces ginger, ground or grated
4 to 6 small chili peppers
10 pounds granulated sugar
1 1/2 quarts cider vinegar

Peel and slice the mangoes. Sprinkle with salt and allow to stand overnight. Drain liquid from mangoes.

Put cloves, nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon in a spice bag. Grind onions, garlic and ginger in a food processor. Remove stems from chili peppers and blend with enough vinegar to liquefy.

In large pot, boil remaining vinegar and sugar for 5 minutes. Add sliced mangoes and other ingredients and cook 45 to 60 minutes, until desired consistency is obtained (thick and translucent). For darker chutney cook longer.

Put in hot sterile jars and seal immediately.