It is summer — and it is SO HOT! Yes, I know, this is an understatement (and an unwarranted one) at this time of the year in the Indian subcontinent. But the same Nature that pushes us in this furnace, also provides some beautiful remedies for it.
One of them is Ice Apple. Come summer and we find hand carts laden with these fruits of sugar palm or the palmyra palm. Big clusters of round, purple blackish fruit with greenish tinge are seen around the city market places. The black cover is only the outer shell enclosing fibrous husk and inside the husk are three or four fleshy kernels — which the British named as Ice Apple.
Each ice apple is covered with a creamish, fibrous skin. But the kernel or the fleshy part is very delicate. Once the outer husk and the skin are removed, it deteriorates very fast and ferments rapidly.
[Its scientific name is Borassus flabellifer and the origin of this tree is considered as India. However it is found all over South-east Asia. Each part of this tree — its fan-shaped leaves, sap, tree truck — are useful in one way or the other.]
This summer treat brings back some good memories.
The favourite weekend outing for our family always used to be the long walks along the beach. Walking into the sunset with the beach breeze buzzing around — that was a high point of the weekend. So Mumbai’s Juhu beach was a frequently visited spot.
However, the ever increasing crowds and the narrowing breadth of the beach fast discouraged our long walks there. But then, the Aksa beach was there to offer us some solace. For us, it was almost equidistant in other direction and it was a long stretch of sand with hardly few people strolling around. (This was long time ago; I’m sure, now even this beach is over-crowded)
In addition to the peaceful walks, another attraction of the place was the Tadgolas. At that time, these ice apples were not so abundantly available at every place. We could find those only in a few pockets. At the Aksa beach, the locals (people of Madh Island) would stand with tall clusters of these sugar palm fruits at the mouth of the gully leading to the beach and we could get a haul of the fresh fruit while returning from the walk.
Now of course, these are available right at the corner of the road, but they do bring back the cool beach breeze along with their sweet taste.
Do you have any such favourite natural summer coolant? Do share with us.