Tender coconut, watermelons and Palmyra fruits start arriving in Tiruchi
With soaring temperatures and scorching heat in the city, seasonal fruits and drinks will help residents stay cool this summer.
Tender coconut water and mosambi (sweet lime) juice are the conventional options. But kamban koozh (pearl millet porridge), noongu (Palmyra fruit) juice, pathaneer (palm juice), buttermilk, and jigarthanda are popular choices. Watermelon and cucumbers are much-loved preferences consumed as cut fruit pieces to prevent dehydration.
Pushcart vendors and temporary stalls selling various summer fruits and drinks have sprung up at various locations such as Chatram bus stand, Gandhi Market, Palakkarai, Sashtri Road, Crawford Junction, and K.K. Nagar.
“A traditional village health drink, kamban koozh helps the body stay energetic and cool for a few hours. It is highly nutritious, rich in fibre and protein and gives a feeling of satiety when consumed.” said Kutti Selvaraj, who has been selling the porridge for more than 25 years.
Mr. Selvaraj is a vendor near Gaiety theatre, West Boulevard Road, and sells a bowl of porridge for Rs.10. He procures 3 kg of pearl millet from Gandhi Market every day to prepare the porridge which was popular among the people in the locality as well as thirsty motorists. Since it makes one feel full for longer, it is a preferred alternative to aid weight loss, say many.
“I purchase pearl millet in bulk, clean, and grind it to prepare healthy porridge. It acts as a coolant and provides strength to the body during summer,” said N. Chellamal, who sells buttermilk and kamban koozh near Periyar Centenary School, K.K. Nagar.
A glass of buttermilk is priced at Rs.10 and the price of a bowl of porridge ranges from Rs. 10 to Rs. 15 depending on the size of the bowl.
Noongu (Palmyra fruit) ‘juice’ is a much-loved summer beverage for its medicinal and nutritious value. Many vendors use this as a strategy to attract customers by scooping out the fruit kernels and adding them to pathaneer with a dash of lemon and ice cubes to serve a ‘cool’ drink, literally.
“Currently, very few vendors are selling noongu in the city since the peak season will commence only after 15 to 20 days. Moreover, many farmlands where palm was cultivated have been sold as plots for real estate development, which has resulted in a noticeable increase in the price of the fruit,” said Ramesh Chinnasamy, who sells noongu ‘juice’ and tender coconut water on West Boulevard Road.
The vendor has been in the family profession for five years. He procures Palmyra from Keelavalady, Melavalady, and Pollachi; purchases pathaneer from Peruvanallur.
Watermelon, which is rich in vitamins and minerals, is a tasty way to beat the heat. Some like it simply cut into pieces while others sprinkle spicy masala on the cut fruit for some extra zing.
“I purchase juicy watermelons from Dindivanam regularly in bulk. I sell a kilo of fruit for a price range of Rs. 15 to Rs. 18, depending on the demand,” said Sasikumar R., a watermelon vendor near K.K. Nagar Arch. A medium-sized cut fruit piece is priced at Rs. 10 and is cut into smaller pieces for easy consumption by customers.
Mr. Sasikumar has been a vendor for over seven years and travels to Tiruchi daily from his home in Villipuram, to eke out a living.
From January to May every year, he sells watermelons and for the rest of the year works as a driver.