When we hear the word fruits, how many of us ditch it to opt for some junk binge? We are sure so many of us do but what if you get to eat something that is healthy as well as tasty? Yes! Today we’ve got a treat for you – berries from the Indian subcontinent, we bet most of you didn’t quite know about. Interestingly, originally known as “berie,” meaning ‘grape’ was first cultivated in Europe. These highly beneficial fruits were then welcomed in India in the 19th century.
Typically, a summer favourite, these juicy, tangy fruits are not just colourful and good looking, but pack a punch of flavours and are nutritious too. Loaded with Vitamin C, antioxidants and many other nutrients, berries are supercooling for the body and have been a part of our desi pantries since a long time. These can be used to make sharbats, pickles, desserts et al. Even the ancient ‘science of life’ Ayurveda, mentions about the importance of many of these indigenous varieties.
Walking down the memory lane, remember the times when you used to pluck these gorgeous little fruits and savour them in their best forms? There was another charm to it and the emotion is intact till today! Here is a list of our favourites to tickle your memories. Read on…
Jamun is also popularly known as the ‘Fruits of Gods.’ It is believed that Lord Rama during his 14 years of exile ate this berry along with some other plums/berries. So, the temples dedicated to him had always planted jamun tree in their compounds. Not only known for its vibrant purple colour, but, is also a great companion for diabetic patients and weight watchers.
Grown extensively in Rajasthan, MP, Bihar, Gujarat, Bihar and that belt, karonda is primitively a gift from the Himalayan valleys. These regions are able to support its vegetation due to the plant’s ability to survive even in drought. Besides making our breakfasts, lunches and dinners super yum with pickles and preserves made of it, karonda also has several health benefits that include preventing tooth decay, various forms of cancer, etc.
Ber is BAE which has made its mark even in Bollywood top-charting numbers! Remember meri beri ke ber mat todo? It’s a berry that has been a favourite snack of Indian families, bonding them in fun-filled evenings. It’s a perfect old age buddy as it strengthens the bones and controls blood pressure. Besides helping one sleep better, soothing anxiety and regulating blood circulation, etc.
School lunch box would have been incomplete if we haven’t had pickles to share with friends. Yes! Pickles had been the perfect way to bond with the entire class. Talking about pickles, gunda (don’t mistake it with a local goon!) or gum berry has been one of our favourites without a second thought, isn’t it? Besides that, it also possesses anti-ageing properties along with being a gharelu nuskha to treat coughs and other chest diseases.
With the berry wrapped delicately in a lantern-like shape, rasbhari is true to its name – ras meaning juice, bhari meaning filled. Yes, this fruit is a real juicy and evergreen one. In French, the golden berry is named as ‘amour en cage’ which interestingly means ‘love in a cage!’ It’s not beautiful just on the outside, but is high on antioxidants. It is also very good for the liver and kidney’s health.
The famous one from the western coastal region of India. Also known as Malabar Tamarind, kokum dominates as a super cooling ingredient in Maharashtrian, Malvani and Goan cuisines alike. Talk of summer and there’s nothing better than a sol kadhi, a beverage essentially made of kokum, coconut milk and ginger. An instant refresher, it works as an excellent astringent and wards off heatstroke. It is also low on sugar, so you can choose to eat it any point of time.
Mulberry primarily shows its presence in Karnataka and is a seasonal beauty. Though also grown in certain parts of North India, this berry is multipurpose – a sweet delight with strong medicinal properties along with being a tonic for the whole body. It is a nutritional powerhouse that will entail everything that your body needs. It is a storehouse of blood purifying agents as well that improvise blood circulation.
Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.