Custard Apple

Custard apples may look a little strange and irregular shaped but are certainly exotic and different in taste.  Because its cream coloured flesh is similar to custard in taste and texture, the fruit is called a custard apple. It originated in Latin America, but the fruit is also cultivated in many parts of Asia. Called sitaphal in India, the custard applies also known as bullock’s heart, ox heart and Buddha fruit in English and Coeur de boeuf in French.

The trees are verdant green and the flowers have slim green petals that soon turn into knobby fruit. Custard Apple can be eaten as a fruit, used in fruit salads, added to mashed bananas, made into ice-cream and sorbets, drinks and  desserts, used as fillings for cakes, added to seafood salads and as an accompaniment to spicy dishes such as Thai curry.  Flavors that compliment this fruit are cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon, orange, honey and vanilla. A squeeze of lime stops the flesh of the fruit from turning brown. If one whisks the pulp in a blender for just 3 seconds, the seeds are easy to extract by hand. A few more seconds in the blender and the seeds are smashed and the pulp is inedible. One can also always buy a bottle of dessert topping. I never leave the hill stations of Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar without stocking up on this topping which I use generously in milkshakes and on vanilla ice cream, in ‘rabdi’, trifle puddings and parfaits.

Although they are now hybrid varieties which yield larger and better looking fruit, I still think that the best custard apples grow in the wild. I have stopped on many road trips to collect these fruit growing by the wayside in and around Hyderabad in the months of September and October. I have stopped happily to collect this green booty on the highways in Brazil and Australia in the months of March and April. Every September, a caravan of carts drawn by sturdy bullocks winds its way into our city of Hyderabad from little villages in Andhra Pradesh. The vendors set up make-shift camps on pavements and sell the fruit as it ripens.

Custard Apples provide sugars that give sustained energy and do not react with the body’s insulin output like processed sugars. The fruit contains vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein necessary for energy production. They are an excellent source of Vitamin C, a good source of dietary fibre, a useful source of Vitamin B6, magnesium, calcium and potassium, and with some B2 and complex carbohydrates.

I am including my favourite custard apple recipes here.

Jade Kiss Cocktail/Mocktail:

Ingredients:

1 custard apple,

100ml  pineapple juice.

1/4cup white rum (optional)

150 ml orange juice,

Juice of 1 lime.

Crushed ice.

Method:

Remove seeds. Put the custard apple flesh in a blender. Add all other ingredients and blend. Pour into tall glasses and decorate with a slice of lime.

Frozen custard apple yoghurt

Ingredients:

3 cups custard apple pulp

200grams plain (and preferably low-fat) yoghurt

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon lime juice

Method:
Puree the pulp in a processor or blender. Add the yoghurt, lime juice and honey and mix together.

Pour into a freezer box and freeze until almost firm. Cut into chunks and place in processor again and blend until fluffy but not completely thawed. Pour back into trays or serving dishes and freeze again. Scoop out and serve decorated with some lime rings.

Custard apple cream

Ingredients:

500g custard apple pulp

2 eggs, separated

1 packet (about 1 tablespoon) gelatin

250ml milk

6 teaspoons sugar

250ml whipping cream

A pinch of salt

4 teaspoons Marie biscuit crumbs.

Method:

Remove the custard apple flesh, discard the seeds and blend.
Mix gelatin, sugar and salt. Beat egg yolks with the milk and add the custard apple pulp. Put in a saucepan, mix in gelatin and heat over boiling water stirring until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat and cool.

Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold them into the gelatin mixture. Fold in the whipped cream. Pour into a loaf tin lined with butter paper and sprinkle half the biscuit crumbs on top.Chill for a few hours until firm. Unmould onto serving dish and sprinkle remaining crumbs over.

Custard Apple Cake

Ingredients:

125g butter at room temperature

1/2 cup caster sugar

1tsp vanilla essence

2 eggs

3 ripe custard apples

1 and half cups flour

1teaspoon baking powder

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Method:

Beat butter, caster sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Add eggs one at a time. Beat well. Remove pulp from custard apples. Discard seeds and add pulp to mixture. Mix well until combined.

Using a metal spoon, fold the flour gradually into mixture. Spoon into loaf pan and smooth the top. Combine a few teaspoons caster sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle over mixture. Bake for 1 hour at 250 centigrade or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and stand for 5 minutes before turning cake out onto a wire rack to cool.

Slice and serve.

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23 responses »

  1. Irene says:

    Lovely read Beyniaz but the only thing form a custard apple can tempt me in is Mumbai’s Natural icecream 🙂 Otherwise, not a fruit I like!

  2. deepika says:

    Loved to read so much about custard apple. This write up reminds me of the custard apple tree in our backyard. I can savour it’s creamy and smooth taste even today. But,unfortunately its difficult to find in market.
    Thanks for such mouthwatering recipes.

    • Beyniaz says:

      Thanks for reading this, Deepika. We get loads of custard apples in our city and even have a place named after this fruit: Seetaphal Mandi.

  3. Indrani Talukdar says:

    Yummy! I like custard apple myself. My garndmother’s house (a mall stands there now) in Allahabad had a lovely guava orchard with a few custard apple trees. I remember the jams and jellies my gran used to prepare.

    Thanks for the recipes Beyniaz. A great write up as always.

  4. vimala madon says:

    Trust you to come with delicious and exotic food ideas Beyniaz. A truly enjoyable read.

  5. Beyniaz says:

    Hi Sneha, thanks for reading this…for a cocktail use the rum, for a non-alcoholic mocktail skip this ingredient!
    Farm is a rather grand name…hardly any fruit trees on the land away from the city except for custard apples and neem but have planted a lot of new saplings this monsoon..and I have 6 profusely fruiting custard apple trees in my garden at home.

    • Sneha says:

      Wow! This is a dream for me, perhaps Yes to all of it once I’ll have a more spacious house.
      Thanks for the clarification 🙂

  6. Sneha says:

    Well, custard apples are one of my fav…did not know so many recipes though. How do you conjure all of them up? And you talk about a farm, where do you stay to have a farm…surely away from the metropolitan hustle and bustle…right?
    The first recipe was a little unclear…Can you please tell me if I have to use anything else in place of rum?

  7. vimala ramu says:

    A very yummy informative article, Beyniaz. I too love the fruit. My brother in law’s farm yields quite a bit of them and his wife is always at a loss what to do when they all ripen at the same time.
    I also heard these trees were originally planted in all the Muslim burial grounds. Is it true?

    • Beyniaz says:

      Vimala, lots of burial places around our farm but no custard apple trees there! Lots of trees growing wild on our land and in our garden and I’m the only one (and the birds) who eats them at home…really love this fruit. You are right about their ripening together!

  8. Dear Beyni,

    Yummy! As usual. How can you come up with such mouth watering recipes and that too this time out of the ordinary custard apple?

    Okay, the fruit may not be ordinary but most of us don’t exactly give that much importance to it and certainly do not indulge in the kind of creative cookery using it as you have done!

  9. Sonal Shree says:

    Thanks for sharing such wonderful recipes. Your family is lucky.

  10. sushi says:

    Beyniaz ! this is informative and well written…. consider a recipe book !!!!

  11. Suneetha says:

    Beyniaz

    I have asked u this b4, what’s your home address, and may I drop in? 😛

  12. Shernaz says:

    Enjoyed your write-up and now am waiting to try out some of your mouth watering recipes and enjoy them too thoroughly.

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