D, D for Delonix regia

When you pick up a fallen flower & examine it, you’ll find this streettree, Gulmohar as we have come to know it in India today, has 4 petals in orange to bring in the famous “flamboyance”, a fifth in yellowish white liberally speckled in red, five uniformly reddish orange sepals &10 stamens that join in the overall colour code of the flower.

This tree has many names, and the history of each name is as flamboyant as its blooms. In India, it is the Mayflower as it adds colour to our summer skylines, gulmohr as the gul (flower) dazzle like the mohr (the peacock) with its feathers. Botanically it is Delonix regia after its conspicuous (delos) claws (onux) of its petals mixed w/ its accredited royal (regia) status given in honour of late Governor of St Kitts and Nevis, de Poincy. It goes by the name of Royal Poinciana in the Americas for the same reason.

However, we shd be aware that this tree is also part of our British colonial inheritance. It was introduced to us from Madagascar via Singapore & Mauritius in the mid 19th century.

C for confusion

Around the time #atozchallenge theme reveal was underway, I had taken a count of the trees I watched during the past couple of months. There were about 60+ trees, more trees when the colour and other variants were taken into account. For instance, the #frangipani blooms in shades of whites, 2 whites in fact, a ruby red, and in a pink & yellow combo. Therefore, they become three different trees in number, although they part of the same species. Likewise, the number of trees with names beginning with C in the Latin, English, colloquial, regional languages turned out to be a high number.

Obviously, C comes under consideration after weeding out the many confusions. Therefore, I decided to list all of them. The better part of this list is that most of the Cs that fall under this letter has names beginning with other letters of the English alphabet, which makes it easier to slip their tales under one of them. For now, since I am running a tad bit late on C, and the challenge, I’m listing all the trees with names that begin with C.

  1. Coconut
  2. Cashew fruit
  3. Custard Apple
  4. Cassia Fistula
  5. Cassia (other one)
  6. Chakka (jackfruit in Malayalam)
  7. Chaamba (water apple tree in Malayalam)
  8. Copper pods
  9. Casuarina
  10. Canon ball/ Couroupita guianesis
  11. Coral wood tree
  12. Crepe myrtle
  13. Curry leaf
  14. Cacao tree

Phew! I hope you have begun to comprehend why I am this confused. I have stories about each of then, more than one infact. If you have stories about any of thee trees and/or other trees beginning with the letter C, feel free to add them to the comments, I’ll add them to this open list.

Cya with D soonish ..

A Banana Food List #treetales | #atozchallenge2019

The Banana tree – Vazha in Malayalam – like the jackfruit and the coconut is a basic ingredient to a Malayalee’s idea of a stocked pantry.

Gone Bananas

There wouldn’t be a household in Kerala that does not eat at least a variety of banana,(I can think of at least eight) as the fruit after a meal dessert. That’s the most common use the ripe banana, pazham in Malayalam, is put to daily.

Malabar delicacies, the pazham nirachathu (stuffed banana) & unnakaya (steamed banana, mashed used as dough, stuffed & fried)
Puttu (streamed rice cake) with a steamed nendran banana

The other equivalent use is of a steamed item for breakfast. This Nendran Banana/Ethakka, (i’ve no clue of its English/latin names) is used to make the famous Banana chips, sharkaraperatti (banana fried and rolled in powdered jaggery & dried ginger) and the banana fritters tourists drool over when in Kerala.

The charkaraperatti.. first time seeing it being made! Banana, Jaggery, dry ginger, cumin seeds .. #kerala #snacks pic.twitter.com/MjFF7NqcEs

— pins E/P a dosa lover! (@Chukkukapppi) February 10, 2019

One ripe ethaka, steamed/as is, a meal in itself. Pete Sampras used to nibble on a nendran between sets during his grandslam matches.

A meal (sadya) served on a banana leaf

The raw banana, ka in Malayalam, is used make a variety of side dishes, also used to make raw banana fritters, bhajji, as it is commonly called. The banana flower (chundu) (is again a vegan sensation/meat substitute) and the banana steam (vazha pindi) are also used to make dishes for meals.

The banana leaf is used as a plate to eat an elabarate meal (sadya) during Onam & Vishu (festivals in Kerala), or/and during a Hindu wedding. The leaves are used as a wrap to make many steamed sweet/savoury delicacies. If anybody is taking meal for a journey, the leaf is used to wrap the food. That’s a long list of the uses of an all purpose banana fro the banana tree.

Last but not the least, the banana skin/ banana peel is used to rub teeth to make it sparkle, reduce irritation from insect/mosquito/bug bites or/and even wrap around a splinter wound as a means of first aid .. Check a S13 NCIS episode for reference.

For day two, and letter B for the #atozchallenge, I turn to the Banana.

Artocarpus heterophyllus (jackfruit) #Treetales | #atozchallenge19

Did you know the scientific name of the Jackfruit is Artocarpus heterophyllus. I didn’t know until this morning. That’s about the immediate cause for choosing jackfruit to begin this year’s #atozchallenge with.

The jackfruit has gained popularity as jackfruit powder, as a substitute flour, and/or a portion in the preparation of pizza dough, cakes, crepes, dosas, idlis, appams, bread so on and so forth for health reasons, also as meat substitutes in burgers and other meat dishes. (Take a look at James Joseph (@Pro_Bharati) & CWC for recipes

The jackfruit buds & flowers

The vegan superfood part is but a new phasein its journey.

That does not and will never diminish its life among its lovers & users in India any bit. The jackfruit was and always will be one of the favourite fruits in its ripe and unripe forms, sweet & savoury for the residents particularly of the states in the Western coast of India & West Bengal.

By writing and publishing such ill researched articles, the writers along with the paper is marring a people’s favourite food they have always loved, relished and looked forward to.

A baby jackfruit

The recent controversy around the jackfruit among the Indians, the Keralites in particular is after two articles published in subsequent months of February & March in The Guardian. They described Kerala’s official fruit (since the May of 2018) as “a spectacularly ugly, smelly, unfarmed, unharvested pest-plant native to India.”

“Covered in spikes and emitting a stench of rotting onions, jackfruit can balloon to an ungainly 45kg, and its inside is coated in a thick gum that stains axes, machetes or whatever heavy-duty tool is employed to attack its leathery shell.”

The Ada a jackfruit prep streamed (sweet)

No wonder Malayalees are livid, even I am when folks at The Guardian abused a fruit as rich and multi dimensional as the jackfruit as pungent smelling, rotting fruit to sensationalize its new entry into the western food diets.

I don’t know about other parts, at my home, extended family & friends’ we wait for the summer months to devour this ripe fruit. When more and more jackfruits ripen it is made into jams & jellies and pappads to preserve it for the rest of the year.

And the folks at Guardian say it is eaten as “an option if they had nothing better to eat” how dare they!!!

A yummy fleshy ripe jackfruit

Let’s get a few facts straight here. Jackfruit is a humongous fruit, weighing upto 35 to 45 kg as the article says, but also expensive 1/4 kg is sold for ₹100.

Like any other edible fruit it stinks when it is rotten. And however much anybody loves anything, they are bored when it is found in excess. Therefore, when the jackfruit season extends into the monsoon months of June in southern parts of India where it grows in abundance, they are likely to be filled with water, fall from its trees, and rot on the grounds.

However, enterprising Malayalees have come up with innovative ways of making powders out of raw jackfruit in the last 10 years to utilise almost every fruit from the bumper harvest every year.

Chakka velaichathu (dark brown jam like spread)

A lot of jackfruit isn’t tummy friendly. Most of us who have greedily eaten it non stop at its first arrival in the summers have often ended up with uncontrollable belching & flatulence.

How many fleshy ripe fruits can one have, or/and convert it into dishes even if it is a favourite?

The surplus ripe ones are therefore cooked with generous amounts of dried ginger, a local preventive for gastrointestinal ailments, so that it will not result in further tummy troubles even when eaten for the love of the fruit along with jaggery (grated coconut, optional). It is used as filler in pancakes, crepes, eaten as is, used spreads. The raw jackfruits are sliced, fried into chips, dehydrated, sundried and preserved.

May be, the folks who wrote these articles would have met, out of all the lovers of the fruit, a hater of the jackfruit!

Jackfruit seeds

Parents like mine also deep freeze the fleshy fruit so us children don’t miss having the fruit if we are away during the season.

The seeds are also edible.

Most of the times they are sold separately ₹60/kg. They are soaked in water to soften their skins, peeled, chopped, steamed to make stand alone dishes, and/or added to other dishes in place of raw banana, ash gourd and potato and/or dusted with a mix of chilli powder & salt after they are roasted/fried.

The only conclusion I can draw from these articles is that writers have published them from hearsay and half knowledge, and have been a little less responsible when they wrote about a favourite fruit among Indians.

For the #atozchallenge2019, I’m jotting down snippets about trees I’ve loved, and met in the last four-five months.

The green fruit #waterapple

Water Apple, one of the many varieties

We all have this one memory that pops up when somebody mentions a fruit. Many of my summers have been about water apples, Chambakka in Malayalam. This in the picture is one variety, they also come as smaller, pinker and whiter fruits hanging from their shady trees.

I loved going to school for many reasons, however it turned food exciting when the academic year hit the month of #March. The students who went home for lunch used to bring back a tiffin box of chambakka, and many times they were sliced, mixed salt and red chilly powder.

As they walked and cycled from home to school, these slices of chambakka rolled and rolled inside these tiffin boxes coating themselves with a now wet mix of chilly powder and salt.

By the time they reached our classroom, it would be the perfect post lunch snack we could nibble on sneakily during the post lunch periods. The tiffin box used to be passed on from one student to the next, from whereever its owner sat to the front benches and back, the joy of biting into it during a lecture when we were supposed to attentively listen to the teacher .. oooooooo

Continue reading “The green fruit #waterapple”

The Yellow Petal

I’m excited about how this petal has turned out to be in a week’s time. It is paper-ish to touch, has fabulous veins, and it seamlessly becomes part of every page I place it on. It is also feather light, therefore it wants to fly everytime there is a hint of a breeze anywhere near it, it did fly away twice when I took it out to show the sun.

I collected a couple of fallen #konnapoo (#cassiafistula /#goldenshowertree ) from the road on my way back from somewhere last week. This one stayed apart from the rest as a single #petal while the rest of its friends, the whole #flowers are drying away inside different #books kept around the home.

Cassia Fistula, Golden Shower Tree, Konna in Malayalam is painting the skylines yellow with their flowers earlier than their time this year … It speaks about how the temperatures have risen and plants like human beings are feeling the pinch

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