Non-Native Vegetables and Fruits of India Part II
To continue from Part I, we will explore more fruits and vegetables, which are non-native to India and have been amalgamated into our Indian cuisine so much that many of us think these vegetables are of Indian origin. Many of the vegetables which define north and south Indian cuisine have origins from outside India.
It’s very difficult with many vegetables to find their origins as they are ingrained in Indian cuisine like some of the vegetables we are going to discuss below:
Tomato is also classified as a berry; it’s grown both in the wild and also commercially cultivated. It has origins traced from the Central American and Peru region. Its wide use was delayed because it suspiciously looked poisonous because of its bright red colour and shiny texture of the skin.
It’s widely used in North India as tomato gives a sour taste because it’s needed to strike a balance with the spicy flavor of the dish. And since it is cooked in high heat along with the onions it gives a nice texture and body to the gravy. And since in north India we eat with roti we require thick gravies which can be scooped along with the gravy. In the south, the Sambar or Rasam which are eaten with rice is thin gravies. But if one is using tamarind as a souring agent in curry-like they use in the south you have to moderate the use of tomato as the curry can tend to be too sour. It also is eaten raw as a side or salad in many places along with the onion which is traditionally consumed.
Nowadays tomatoes are plucked without allowing them to ripe on the plant, which is losing the original taste and tends to be bland sometimes. It’s only the looks which we are looking for sometimes and loses the originality of the vegetable.
Even though we are not big fans of pineapple, means we do not have many dishes featuring pineapple in it, comparatively like in other countries. It’s a defiantly tropical fruit, but you will be surprised to know that India is the 7th largest country growing this exotic fruit i.e., approximately over 15 lakh tonnes.
Pineapple origins can be traced to Paraguay and Brazil and bought back to Europe by Columbus. On contrary to the western narrative, we have been growing this pineapple for a long time now, it can be traced back to Maurya (322 to 185 BC) and Gupta Empire (320 to 550 CE).
Pineapple is a seasonal crop, its main season is July through September, it can be seen along many roadside pushcarts and also being sold in major supermarkets. Many roadside vendors cut the pineapple, remove the ridges and cut it into slices and give the fruit to the customer is a normal trend here in India. In India, we don’t have many dishes, but have them as fruit extensively. One of the dishes I had liked is pineapple sheera/kesari (a sweet made of semolina, sugar, ghee, and roasted/grilled pineapple pieces).
This is Lucious fruit origin is from South China and dates back to more than 2000 years. The tall green tree bears small fleshy fruits. These trees can are dominant species in the forests of Hainan, Guangdong, Guangxi and Yunnan. Some say that migratory birds might have carried the fruit along from inside the forest to places which are riverside which are ideal weather conditions for the lychee tree to grow.
Lychee is pink in colour and has thin skin covering the fruit and pulpy flesh which is inside the fruit covering the seed. Lychee is a seasonal fruit it can be found mainly during the months of May to June. We can find many roadside vendors selling this fruit on pushcarts in bunches.
Some of the dishes we make from lychee are lychee sorbet, Coconut and Litchi Creme Caramel ( the normal caramel custard with the twist of lychee in it), Lychee Juice, Lychee Daiquiri (a mixture of white rum, lychee juice and a dash of lemon).
Cashew nut was bought by the Portuguese to India to the shores of Goa about 5 centuries ago. They were planted along the coast to prevent soil erosion. Its biological name is (Anacardium occidentale L.), a tree native of Eastern Brazil. From goa it has spread across India, it’s grown in Maharashtra, Andhra, Karnataka, and Orissa.
Cashew is more or less fruit, Cashew harvesting is a bit different than other fruits or nuts it normally can be done after about two months after the fruit is formed when the apple turns pink or red and the nut turns grey. Otherwise, one can wait till the fruit falls to the ground, which indicates that the fruit is ripe and ready to harvest. After harvesting, nuts are twisted off the apples by hand.
If you are harvesting the cashew after the apples fall from the tree naturally then are used to make cashew feni, Cashew Feni is completely organic without any preservative or artificial flavor added to it.
Cashews are low in sugar and rich in fiber, healthy fats good for the heart, and a good source of plant protein. That’s why we have dry fruits such as cashew, almonds, and dates which good sources of minerals and fiber, and healthy fats. Cashew nuts are widely used in sweets in India, many or all of the sweets do have cashew or almonds flakes as an addition to it. Some sweets like Kaju katli are made solely out of cashew nuts, this sweet is widely available in all parts of India.
Before you can say, “are you serious ?’, let us not forget that the king of all fruits, the mango, is our own/native from India, so are karela, cabbage, lauki/bottle gourd, banana, and coconut. All these might be found elsewhere in the world but the variety of fruit and vegetable found in Indian are native vegetables and fruits of India 😊.
This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon #blogchatterhalfmarathon.