Lets talk about Fruits – Bengali Exotic Fruits

Shatkora – Citrus macroptera

Also known as hatkhora, satkara, shatkora, 
hatxora, cabuyao, Melanesian papeda, or wild orange. It is a semi-wild species of citrus native to Bangladesh, Malesia and 
Its fruit is about 6–7 cm in diameter, has a fairly smooth, moderately thick rind, and is yellow when ripe. The pulp of the fruit is greenish-yellow and dry (does not produce much juice). The juice is very bitter, and somewhat sour.

In Bangladesh, the thick fleshy rind of the Citrus macroptera is eaten as a vegetable, while the pulp is usually discarded because of its bitter-sour taste. The thick rind is cut into small pieces and cooked (either green or ripe) in beef, mutton, and fish curries. The rind is often sun-dried for later cooking and consumption. The fruit is also a primary ingredient in satkora/shatkora pickles. It is also used in doner kebabs in British Bangladeshi fast-food restaurants.

Many of the fruits are exported from Bangladesh, exacting a high price because their oil is used in the perfume industry.

Boroi – Jujube, Ber

Ziziphus mauritiana, also known as Indian jujube, Indian plum Chinese date, Chinee apple, and is a tropical fruit.

They ripen from a light green or yellow to an orange-red color. The fruit can be consumed both slightly under-ripe and ripe. When under-ripe, the white flesh is dense, crisp and astringent, while fully ripe fruits are more spongy with a somewhat mealy texture and muted floral flavor. The slightly tarty and sweet fruit can range from brown to purplish black in colour.
Each fruit contains a rough, inedible, central stone.

Ripe jujube fruit are typically consumed raw. In Asia, they may be made into pickles, chutneys and candies, or crushed in water to make a cooling drink. Ripe fruits are often preserved through the sun-drying method. Under-ripe jujubr fruit may also be eaten raw, seasoned with a sprinkling of salt and spices. Store fresh jujubr fruit in sealed bags in the refrigerator, where they can last up to a week.

Ghondoraj lebu – Rangpur Lime

Considering India is among the world’s largest producers of limes and lemons, the continuing relative anonymity of the gondhoraj lebu appears even more baffling!
Call it lime, lemon or lebu, use any spelling of gondhoraj (aroma king), but the internet cache will be woefully small.
The Ghondoraj is a Rangpur lime with its
origin from Bengal. With its heady aroma that just hangs and lingers in the air,
the Rangpur is a cross between a lime and mandarin orange.
Often mistaken with its more popular cousin, Kaffir lime, Gondhoraj likes to rule from behind the curtains. One without an English name or a dedicated Wikipedia profile, this bright green oblong lime, originates in Sylhet and the picturesque hills of Chittagong, Bangladesh.
Unlike its modest cousin the Pati Lebu or nimboo or lime, neither does it offer a lot of juice, nor does it add any sourness to the dish. It’s sole purpose on earth, seems to be enhancing flavours of whatever it is squeezed in, by yielding the most fantastic heady aroma which is absolutely unmatched and unparalleled. 

The celebrity status the Gondhoraj becomes apparent when we take into account that even its leaves are used to add flavour to the most characteristic Bengali food. It is simply mashed with rice and some ghee (clarified butter) to make lebu ghee bhat that has for ages been fondly relished by the rich and the famous in Bengal. Or mixed in fermented rice and enjoyed as a staple in the more humble households. 

This characteristic use of its leaf, for flavouring, makes the Gondhoraj quite similar to the Thai Kaffir lime.

Scarce in juice but not in fragrance, the lebu is cut lengthwise to expose its pale insides, which, when properly squished, lets out a few paltry drops of ambrosia strong enough to waft around the house, inviting all to the dining table.

To a Bengali, Gondhoraj captures the essence of Bengal

Jalpai – Indian Olive

Or wild olives in English. The trees grow profusely in the Terai region of West Bengal, especially in districts like Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar and Cooch Behar.

The fruits are greenish in colour and elongated, and resemble the common ber. The fruits have a large seed inside. The flesh is what is eaten. The fruit when bitten raw has an acerbic taste which makes the mouth and lips tingle. Many eat it raw adding chillies, salt and sugar.

When boiled or steamed, it smells more like raw mango. It has a sourish taste and can be used as a souring agent in cooking. The sour taste goes extremely well while making a sweet and sour chutney. Each house has its own customised recipe which may include raisins, honey, jaggery and sugar.

A tree bears around 40 to 60 kg of fruit in a season. It is also considered as a sacred plant. Unlike olives around the world, which symbolise peace and have other connotations, not much is known about Indian olives. In truth, it is an under-researched crop. It is not cultivated as an orchard crop, but more as a backyard crop.
But there is ample scope for commercial utilisation. In Arunachal Pradesh, jalpai is eaten raw and is used to make delectable pickles.
Jalpai may not be like Italian olives, but it has a charm and taste of its own. It is time we raise a toast to our indigenous varieties of fruits and celebrate it.

Lukluki – Indian Coffee plum

Tipa phol, The traditional fruit Lukluki, which is also called as Indian coffee plum in English, grows all year round but best quality fruit could be produced in the July-August period
Fruits are eaten both raw and cooked and the bark is sometimes used medicinally.
They are noted for their mild sour and tangy taste. The fruits are pickled, salt-dried or cooked in Indian curries. They can also be blended into juices or made into jams and marmalades which are immensely popular in Southern India. Commercially produced Coffee plum jams and pickles are exported across the world by various companies, mainly from Kerala.

Dewfol – Canistel

The canistel grows up to 10 m (33 ft) high, and produces orange-yellow fruit, also called yellow sapote, up to 7 cm (2.8 in) long, which are edible raw. Canistel flesh is sweet, with a texture often compared to that of a hard-boiled egg yolk, hence its colloquial name “eggfruit”.
The flesh is somewhat pasty, although the best varieties have a creamy, mousse-like texture. The flavor is rich and is reminiscent of an egg custard. The fruit may contain one to six large, brown seeds.
The ripe fruit can be made into jam, marmalade, pancakes, and flour. The ripe flesh is blended with milk and other ingredients to make a shake, and pureed, it is sometimes added to custards or used in making ice cream. It is also used in a milkshake known as “eggfruit nog”.

Kafal – Boxberry

Myrica esculenta is a tree or large shrub native to the hills of northern India, southern Bhutan and Nepal. Its common names include box myrtle, bayberry and kaphal. Its berries are edible and are consumed locally
They are delicious, as the name itself reflects—ka + fal, meaning “what a fruit”. Also called box berry. it is an evergreen, dioecious tree (male and female of the species are different). People prefer the female tree because it bears fruits that fetch a handsome price even in villages.

Amlaki – Amla

The amla fruit is eaten raw or cooked into various dishes, such as dal, sweet dish made by soaking the berries in sugar syrup until they are candied. It is traditionally consumed after meals.
Dried and fresh fruits of the plant are used. All parts of the plant are used in various Ayurvedic medicine herbal preparations, including the fruit, seed, leaves, root, bark and flowers.
According to Ayurveda, amla fruit is sour (amla) and astringent (kashaya) in taste (rasa), with sweet (madhura), bitter (tikta) and pungent (katu) secondary tastes (anurasas). Its qualities (gunas) are light (laghu) and dry (ruksha), the postdigestive effect (vipaka) is sweet (madhura) and its energy (virya) is cooling (shita).[medical citation needed]
In Ayurvedic polyherbal formulations, Indian gooseberry is a common constituent, and most notably is the primary ingredient in an ancient herbal rasayana called Chyawanprash.

Amra – Hog plum.

Spondias mombin, also known as yellow mombin or hog plum.

Fruits appear July to September and are nearly 4 cm (1.5 in) long, ovoid yellow, acid, wrinkled when dry.
When raw and green in colour, amra has a sharp sweet-sour taste,
somewhat acid taste and are edible. Their flesh surrounds a single spiny kernel.
Mature fruit is yellow and tastes tangy sweet. It is also served raw with chili powder in Bangladesh.

Raw amra makes a refreshing juice; cook it with yellow mustard, salt, turmeric and chilli powder to make a spicy pickle; add it to both red or yellow-split pea lentils for a tangy, soupy wholesome dish, or make a sweet and sour amra chutney, a delicious accompaniment sure to lift any meal.

Tentul -Tamarind

The tamarind tree produces brown, pod-like fruits that contain a sweet, tangy pulp, which is used in cuisines around the world.

To the Arab traders visiting India, the fruits of an over abundant sour Indian fruit appeared to look like dried Dates and hence they started to call it ‘Tamar’.

So, it was the ‘Tamar’ of India, in the Persian language that became TAMAR-I-HIND and the British shortened that to Tamarind.
The fruit has a fleshy, juicy, acidic pulp. It is mature when the flesh is coloured brown or reddish brown. The tamarinds of Asia have longer pods (containing six to 12 seeds), whereas African and West Indian varieties have shorter pods (containing one to six seeds). The seeds are somewhat flattened, and a glossy brown. The fruit is best described as sweet and sour in taste.

Tamarind paste has many culinary uses including a flavouring for chutnies, curries, and the traditional sharbat syrup drink. Tamarind sweet chutney is popular in India and Pakistan as a dressing for many snacks and often served with samosa. Tamarind pulp is a key ingredient in flavoring curries and rice in south Indian cuisine, in the Chigali lollipop, in rasam, and in certain varieties of masala chai tea

Jamburra- Pomelo

The pomelo or in scientific terms Citrus maxima or Citrus grandis, is the largest citrus fruit and the principal ancestor of the grapefruit. It is a natural, i.e., non-hybrid, citrus fruit, native to Southeast Asia. Similar in taste to a sweet grapefruit, the pomelo is commonly consumed and used for festive occasions throughout Southeast Asia.

The fruit is large, 6–10 in in diameter, usually weighing 2–4 lb. It has a thicker rind than a grapefruit and is divided into 11 to 18 segments. The flesh tastes like a mild grapefruit, with little of its common bitterness (the grapefruit is a hybrid of the pomelo and the orange). There are two varieties: a sweet kind with white flesh, and a sour kind with pinkish flesh, the latter more likely to be used in ceremonies, rather than eaten. The fruit generally contains few, relatively large seeds, but some varieties have numerous seeds.
The juice is regarded as delicious, and the rind is used to make preserves or may be candied.

Kalajam – Java plum

Java plum, Kalojaam, Jamun, Jambolan.
Syzygium cumini, commonly known as Malabar plum, Java plum, black plum, jamun or jambolan, is an evergreen tropical flowering plant and favored for its fruit, timber, and ornamental value.

Kalajam fruit has a combination of sweet, mildly sour, astringent flavour, slightly acidic flavour, and tends to colour the tongue purple.They are eaten raw, and may be made into sauces or jam. Inferior fruits may be made into juice, jelly, sorbet, syrup, or fruit salad.

The fruits develop by May or June and resemble large berries; the fruit is oblong, ovoid. Unripe fruit looks green. As it matures, its color changes to pink, then to shining crimson red and finally to black color.

Bubi – Langsat

Duku, kokosan
In the Bengali language the fruit is known as lotkon/bubi, in the Assamese language it is known as leteku.

Each fruit has velvety pinkish, yellow, or brown skin which wrinkles at ripening and is filled with whitish pulp containing 3 to 5 seeds. The pulp is sweet to acid in taste. They may be eaten raw or cooked or made into jam or wine.

Bubi fruit obtained in western Southeast Asia, became one of the fruits favoured by audiences for the pleasures between sour-sweet and sometimes the sap.

Sometimes within three days of picking, the appearance of this leather will soon darken, although it is still sweet.

Bael fruit – wood apple

Aegle marmelos, commonly known as bael, also Bengal quince, golden apple, Japanese bitter orange, stone apple or wood apple, is a species of tree native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. 

The tree is considered to be sacred by 
The fruits can be eaten either fresh from trees or after being dried and produced into candy, toffee, pulp powder or nectar. If fresh, the juice is strained and sweetened to make a drink similar to lemonade. It can be made into sharbat, also called as Bela pana, a beverage. If the fruit is to be dried, it is usually sliced and sun-dried. The hard leathery slices are then immersed in water. The leaves and small shoots are eaten as salad greens. Bael fruits are of dietary use and the fruit pulp is used to prepare delicacies like murabba, puddings and juices.
Hard shell, semi-ripe Bael fruits (one is cracked).

Atapal- Sugar apple, 

What is custard apple, sitaphal, sitafal, seetaphal? Custard apple is the fruit of a small, deciduous or semi-evergreen tropical tree, which is commonly found in South East Asia, Africa and India. The fruits are usually heart-shaped or oblong and maybe that is why they are also called Bull’s Heart

Chalta fruits – Elephant apple

The Chalta fruits are sold in the Vegetable markets of eastern India. Array of testy preparations are made with the Chalta. Chalta is also called ‘Chalita’ in Bengali language.

This tree – Chalta (Hindi & Bengali), Kanigala (Kannada) is a beautifully formed tree with fragrant flowers, striking globose fruit and equally striking leaves.
The fruit are heavy and edible. The sepals, which have a sour apple taste, are used for the preparation of chutneys, pickles and prawn curry in Bengal. The rest of the fruit is fibrous and slightly acidic. Elephants love the fruit and ensure propagation of the plant at distances from where the fruit was eaten. As the tree grows on the banks of streams, the fruit is carried away by flowing water and the seeds sprout downstream. The new leaves, serrated and ridged are a tender luminous green.
The name Elephant Apple obviously is derived from the love of the fruit by Elephants who gobble up large numbers at a time. There is a symbiotic relationship between the elephant and the tree. The tree provides food for the elephant and the elephant disperses the seeds. The Dillenia leaves have been used by ivory workers in Karnataka for polishing ivory.
Both the tree and the elephant are truly indigenous and with great pride we can claim both as our own.

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