A fruit with varied medicinal uses, it can be eaten as a dessert or used to make jams, jellies and squashes
The glistening, oval-shaped, purple-coloured jamun fruit has started trickling into markets in Tamil Nadu. In Tamil, it is known as naaval.
It is not endowed with that aura to dethrone other tasty fruits from their pedestal. Yet, it has carved a niche for itself among gourmets in its own humble way.
The jamun is attractive, at least to look at, if not to taste. Most people do not prefer jamun because of its “sub acid spicy flavour.” However, it can be easily found out whether one has consumed the fruit or not, because the colour of the palate and tongue would reveal it!
Jamun is basically not a table fruit, and hence its commercial potential is yet to be fully tapped. The fruit originates in Lucknow. The jamun season is from July-August, just in time for Vinayaka Chathurthi. The drought-resistant tree grows to an enormous height, and a well-grown tree could yield 80 to 100 kg of fruit.
However, it takes a pretty long time, say eight to 10 years, for a sapling to attain maturity, and it’s the grafted varieties that start bearing fruits in four to five years. Because the fruit is not cultivated on a large scale, and since it has to be transported over a long distance, it is costly, often Rs. 60 to Rs. 80 a kg. It comes in two varieties: seedless and jumbo.
There is also a premium variety, which is white in colour, and said to have medicinal properties. Diabetics can take heart as they can consume the fruit or drink its juice without getting worried about it affecting their blood sugar level. In fact, a mixture of equal quantities of jamun and mango juice is said to be an ideal drink for diabetics. Rich in iron and minerals, the fruit is believed to cool the system and stimulate digestion.
The ash of jamun leaves mixed with an equal amount of the ash of hard almond shells makes an excellent tooth powder. Its regular use strengthens the teeth by checking bleeding and gum infections. To curb bad breath, a little peppermint can be mixed in this tooth powder. However, unripe jamun should not be eaten. Overeating of ripe jamun too can cause hyperacidity and retention of gas in the abdomen. To counter these conditions, half a teaspoon of roasted jeera powder and a pinch of black salt should be taken with warm water. Jamun has properties which prevent excessive urination and sweating. It is also a thirst-retardant and blood-purifier. It is used to treat diarrhoea and dysentery and in conditions where the patient passes blood in his stools.
Though considered the underdog among fruits, jamun has varied uses — in desserts, beverages, jams, jellies, squashes, vinegar and pickles.
Now, for a recipe
Ripe jamun: 250 gm (about 25 nos., washed well)
Apple: quarter of a fruit cut into half-inch pieces
A squeeze of lime
A pinch of finely ground fennel
Method: In a clean, stainless steel pan with a thick base, place the jamuns along with the sugar and stir till the jamuns start to soften. Add the pieces of apple. Heat on a medium flame. Cover for a few minutes as the juice is released and the sugar acquires a mauve tinge. As the jamuns soften, mash them. Within a few minutes, the juice will have been released completely, and the seeds can be removed. Add about half a teaspoon of lime juice. Cook over medium heat till the mixture begins to froth. Add a pinch of finely ground saunf (fennel seeds) as the mixture begins to thicken. The jam should have reached a non-runny stage within 15 minutes. Take the pan off the fire and bottle immediately in clean, sterilised jars. Leave a quarter inch of space at the top of the bottle. Insert two rounds of butter paper into the lid and cover immediately while hot.RISHI MANUCHA
Junior Sous Chef,