Department of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology of the RWTH Aachen University

Fruits of India

When I came to India I was eager to try out every food that I would be offered. Before I left Germany I already had a glimpse at dishes which are common for the Indian cuisine. Surprisingly the fruit section of India had some fun facts for me. I got to know some fruits that I didn´t even knew existed, and I tried some fruits that I always wanted to taste, but you just don’t find them in Germany.

Coconut

coconut

First of all I fell in love with fresh coconuts. I´m sure you think, well but you can get coconuts in Germany as well, but not the fresh type, which you get here.  My first sip of the coconut water was so yummy that I could not wait for the taste of the coconut fruit itself. Let me tell you that the coconut meat that we get in Germany has nothing to do with the coconut meat in India, it’s soft and juicy and just delicious. The price of a coconut is not very stable, it depends on how big the coconut is and your location when you buy it. For example being in High-tec city you will not find the cheapest ones. The prices can vary from 10-30 Rupees. This range could also vary a bit more because they charge a “tourist” fee.

 

Fun facts:

  1. The coconut comes from the coconut palm tree which grows throughout the tropics and subtropics.
  2. The name coconut is derived from 16th century Portuguese sailors who thought the 3 small holes on the coconut shell resembled the human face so dubbed the fruit “coco” meaning “grinning face, grin, or grimace” The word nut was added in English later on.
  3. The coconut palm (Cocos nucifera) can grow up to 30 m (98 ft) tall and the leave fronds 4–6 m (13.1–19.7 ft) long.
  4. Technically the coconut fruit is a drupe not a nut. Typical drupes include peaches, plums, and cherries.
  5. Coconut water can be a substitute for blood The high level of sugar and other salts make it possible to add the water to the bloodstream, similar to how an IV solution works in modern medicine. Coconut water was known to be used during World War II in tropical areas for emergency transfusions.
  6. Coconut milk is not the same as coconut water. Coconut milk has a high fat content of around 17%, but is low in sugars. It is frequently added to curries and other savoury dishes. Coconut cream can also be created from the milk.
  7. The coconut palm is grown in over 80 countries. The top 3 coconut producing countries in 2010 were the Philippines, Indonesia and India.
  8. Deaths and injuries resulting from falling coconuts have been the subject of several legal proceedings that have been covered in the media. There is a rumor, that falling coconuts cause about 150 deaths annually.

Jackfruit

jackfruit

When I first saw a Jack fruit in Hydereabad, I remembered that I had seen it on a documentary before and since then I wondered whether I’d like it. The fruit itself looks quite funny, but when we entered a restaurant I got to see the tree this fruit grows on and let me tell you that really looked funny. As you can see in the picture the fruit is quite big and I guess that’s why it grows close to the tree trunk. So we asked the owner if the fruit is ripe and we could maybe try some. Due to the phenomenal hospitality of Indians, he got us a whole plate of the Jackfruit just to try it. The taste was similar to sweets called Tropical-Weingummi in Germany. I liked it a lot and was very happy to finally taste its sweet nature. The price for 6 pieces of the pulp is 20 Rupees in Hitec City.

 

Fun facts:

  1. The jackfruit tree originated from South Asia. Being a tropical plant, it thrives in areas where temperatures are warm and moisture is abundant.
  2. In a single year, the jackfruit tree can produce as many as two hundred fifty fruits.
  3. According to some jackfruit connoisseurs, the best jackfruit in the world is the peniwaraka, or honey jak, that comes from Sri Lanka.
  4. The number of seeds that can be found in a jackfruit range from 100 to 500.
  5. Ripe jackfruit is eaten as a fruit but unripe jackfruit is prepared as a vegetable. Young jackfruit is used in stews or curries, boiled, roasted; or fried and eaten as a snack.
  6. Extracts from the roots for the jackfruit tree can be used to treat fever, asthma and diarrhea.
  7. Many refer to the jackfruit tree as a wonder tree because every part of it has its own use. The fruits are consumed as food, the leaves are fed to livestock, the tree and branches are valued for the manufacture of wood products and the roots are utilized as medicine.
  8. Because of certain similarities in appearance (oval shape and spiny exterior), some people mistake the jackfruit for another exotic fruit, the durian; however, these are very different fruits.
  9. The seeds of ripe jackfruit are edible and very delicious when roasted or boiled in salted water. They are also made into flour.

 

Chikoo

So let me tell you about another fruit  that I found here called Chikoo (Sapota) which is a very popular fruit. I have never heard of Chikoo before, but when we went to a fruit store, I saw something that looked like a hybridization of potatoes and a peach and brown in colour. I was wondering what it could be and asked the owner of the fruit shop. Again we got offered a peace for free to try the taste. That fruit is so sweet it actually tasted like sugar. When I tried this fruit I understood why Indians like to eat their sweets so sweet. If you have a fruit this sweet you need something more to make a difference between fruits and sweets. A lot of people also drink that fruit, which to me is just too sweet. For a juice made out of Chikoo you pay 10 Rupees.

Fun facts:

  1. Origin of Sapota :Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, northern Belize, and the northern regions of Guatemala. Though sapodillas have been harvested since ancient times, the fruit didn’t come to Sri Lanka’s soils until 1802. Despite sapota’s relatively late arrival to India, the fruit has since flourished.
  2. Indian sapodillas are some of the hardiest in the world.
  3. Sapotas are as common and beloved in India as strawberries are to westerners. Sapota season occurs twice in a year: from January to February, and again from May to July.
  4. Sapotas are far from the prettiest fruit, but they more than overcompensate for their stodgy, potato-like appearance with their heavenly marzipan taste. The main profile is sugary but grounded with earthy, caramel, malty notes instead of bright, zesty ones.
  5. Sapotas are one of the higher sugar fruits, but contains a healthy dose of iron, which keeps energy levels sustained and transports oxygen to the blood.
  6. Chilling sapodillas reduces their quality significantly. Only freeze fully ripe sapotas and ideally, consume at room temperature.

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