For most people, the extreme heat of summer is made bearable and even enjoyable because of the many varieties of mangoes available, but for me, summer means gorging on Ice Apple or the pale, beautiful looking Palmyra Fruits delicately extracted from their shells and sold in baskets covered by green leaves so that the fruit is kept moist and fresh. The season is short, the supply and prices fluctuate wildly and the fruit perishes fast, yet the taste is a delight (a cross between tender coconut and litchi) that has one craving for more!

In Hyderabad, the fruit is called Munjal and the season starts in April and finishes by the end of May. Called Tala in Odia, Tari in Hindi, Tal in Bengali, Nungu in Tamil, Pana Nangu inMalayalam, Thaati Munjalu in Telugu, Munjal in Urdu, Tadfali in Gujarati, Targula in Konkani and TadGola in Marathi, thePalmyrafruit belongs to the coconut family. This fruit keeps up the glucose levels and helps withstand the heat. It provides the right balance of nutrition comprising glucose, minerals and other necessary nutrients. With almost no protein, fat, or carbohydrates, the fruit is a boon for patients and those on a diet.

The Palmyra palm grows wild in parts of South India, Sri Lanka and Myanmar and is cultivated in Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand. It is used for making desserts inIndonesiaandThailand, usually combined with coconut milk or syrup. It is sold fresh or in bottles packed in sugar syrup or in syrup made of palm sugar. The sap is also used to make palm sugar, and is fermented to make toddy, a strong alcoholic beverage that is further distilled into the popular wine known as Arrak. Toddy is extracted by cutting the Palm shoot and the juice is traditionally collected in hanging earthen pot. The juice so collected before morning is the refreshing and light drink called Neera. The juice collected in the evening or after fermentation becomes very sour and is Toddy. Parsis make Bakhras or fried biscuits using Toddy. However, these days yoghurt is used in big cities as it is an easily available substitute for Toddy.

In the states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, the seeds are planted and made to germinate and the fleshy stems below the surface are boiled or roasted and eaten. It is very fibrous and nutritious. The germinated seed’s hard shell is also cut open to take out the kernel, which tastes like a water chestnut.

Ice creams, desserts and juices using the Palm Fruit are all delicious. My favourite drink is made from this fruit.

Ice Apple Juice

1 cup of Ice Apple pulp (after peeling the skins and liquidizing this fruit)

1 cup sugar

4 cloves

2 cups water

Juice of 1 lime

Boil sugar, cloves and water and add the pulp. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Cool and add lime juice. Pour in a bottle and store this in the refrigerator.  This keeps for a week. To make this drink, use 1 part juice, mixed with 3 parts water plus ice cubes.

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24 responses »

  1. jsbrocaj says:

    When I was young and in school in Bulsar (Gujarat) I used to love eating galelis sold by women sitting with baskets full of these fruits near the gate of Railway Institute West Railway Yard. Haggling and bargaining was fun to get the best deal out of the meagre pocket money I used to get.Thanks for the walk down memory lane, Beyniaz.I have never seen them here in Delhi!

  2. Beyniaz says:

    Dear Om,
    Carry on eating since you are lucky to have a helping hand!

  3. Dear Beyniaz,
    Much to the consternation of my wife, (since she helps in peeling the skin) this is one of my most favourite foods!

  4. seema moghe says:

    hi, nice write up, as luscious as the recipe within!

    seema

  5. Sonal Shree says:

    I have seen this fruit so many times but could never really be sure what to do about it. A recipe of it from you puts a stamp of SURETY now. 🙂

  6. Beyniaz says:

    Vimala, glad to hear that you love this fruit…it’s good for you so eat up! Heart of palm in South America usually was a whole palm tree cut down just to get to the innermost heart which was cooked as a veg, or put in pizzas or salads.
    My father has a jangal jalebi tree in his garden, just in case you want to visit him!

    • vimala madon says:

      I have a forward on exotic recipes which if not deleted I will send to you. The heart of palm preparation is exactly what the munjal looks like.

  7. vimala madon says:

    Thanks Beyniaz for taking a load of guilt off me – I have been gorging on these munjals or hearts of palm as they are called in the west, as many as up to ten a day, thinking its going to play havoc with my cholesterol and my diabetes, but I now designate you my favourite doctor!

    There is another fruit I haven’t since my teenage days in Lucknow. We used to call them jangal jalebi, here they are known as oorkapalli. I wonder if you have eaten this fruit. I have been seeing in baskets at believe it or not, a hundred rupees a kilo and we used to knock them down trees in our compound!

  8. Shernaz says:

    Ah! Beyniaz. You remind me of those wonderful childhood days when we used to eat this fruit by the basket load. We used to call it ‘galeli’ So tender and cooling! I don’t get to see such tender galelis here in Pune.

    • Beyniaz says:

      Shernaz, we also call this fruit galeli. I can eat them by the dozen as the season is so short.

  9. Dear Beyni,

    That was yummilicious! We just had nungu yesterday. Of course, the simple peeling and eating way. I must try out your recipe. Vinod will really enjoy it!

    • Beyniaz says:

      Dear Shail,
      So you are also a nungu fan…they are good to have in icecreams, squashes or just as fruit.

  10. Sudha H Sharma says:

    Yummy yum Beyni, I have to read all the articles here on WriteSpace, unfortunately I cannot open this site from work, nor can I add a comment and I hardly have time after I get back home from work. But I will do it, need to get back to all your lovely recipe. Great write.

    • Beyniaz says:

      Thanks Sudha for taking the time to read this and write in too!Very glad to see your comment here! 🙂

  11. vimala ramu says:

    A cool, cool post from a cool person.

  12. Mira Pawar says:

    Vow! Beyniaz this is a real great receipe. I am going to try it out. I have been seeing Munjal every where around this time of the year for so many years but never knew its benefits. The fruit in the picture looks something else. It looks more like brinjal. However you have included a lot of useful information in the blog. Thanks a lot!

    • Beyniaz says:

      Yes Mira, we are having a bumper crop of Munjals this year. The picture is of the whole fruit. The munjals we see being sold on the road are inside this when the shell is carefully cut and opened.

  13. A very informative and mouthwatering post!! 🙂

  14. Tanuja Chatterjee says:

    Hi Beyniaz!
    Thanx for enlightening me! I love Taal as well. I didn’t know about its food value. I’m going to gorge on it now without bearing any sense of guilt. Thanx for that superb recipie too! What amazes me is the fact that you pick and choose things that are too ordinary and as you transform them into words they automatically turn brilliant pieces. Keep on inspiring me forever!

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