Nature's gift of the festive season arrives early into the markets
HYDERABAD: This is one Hyderabadi flavour that lasts only for a couple of months. And then, the `sitaphal' disappears to come only next year.
The poor man's apple that sweetens his menu during the Dasara-Deepavali-Ramzan season, is here and this time, bullock-carts from Gajwel, Ranga Reddy and Nalgonda have arrived a trifle earlier than usual.
From the JBS market near Jubilee Bus Station to the Ramanthapur-Uppal road and Mozamjahi Market to Monda Market, the green fruit with its unique aroma is making its presence felt. Usually associated with winter, this year however, a reduced crop has seen the custard apple wagon reaching the city a month before its scheduled arrival.
Price may go up
At the JBS market, Suresh is busy arranging the fruit, just in from Gajwel on a mini-lorry, into piles before his `bandi'. Once the `sitaphal' season is over, Suresh, Samanthramma and their big family, which seems to hold a monopoly over the JBS market, return to Gajwel. And like the fruit, they come back next year only. "The low produce has meant that the fruit is slightly costlier this year," says Suresh.
From what was priced at Rs.40 to Rs.80 for a dozen last year, the custard apples are quite expensive this year. While the price of a dozen ranges from Rs.50 to Rs.100, a basket of 30-40 fruits comes for Rs.100 to Rs.150. "The price might go up to Rs.200 per basket by next month," says Samanthramma, adding that last year, the trend was quite the opposite with the fruit flooding the market and prices plummeting to Rs.20 per dozen by November-end.
Already, grocers, ice-cream parlour owners and retailers from other
areas are coming in. "Housewives and general public will come soon and within no time, stocks will be over. We are trying to get some more," adds Suresh.
Though the price might leave a sour taste in the mouth, `sitaphal' still remains one flavour to be savoured given its brief appearance in the city, they add.