Fruits are nature’s choiciest of candies. Exotic, colorful and pretty, these doses of health, nutrition and taste are a favorite indulgence for people worldwide. The craving gets even real when we lay hands on such fruits that are rare and exotic, in their visual appeal as well as in characteristics. While there are way too many popular fruits we constantly relish, let’s take a look today at instead some of the rare fruits in India that deserve as much of a place of prominence in our plates for a perfect and wholesome fruity serving of life-
Jamun (Black Plum)
Perhaps what makes the jamun come atop our compilation of favorite rare fruits from India is its nomenclatural similarity with our favorite Indian mithaai– the gulaab jamun. Sigh however since all resemblance ends there and then. In its sui generis identity, the jamun is in fact a tiny fruit with however immense beneficial qualities in fold. Essentially a deep purple hued fruit- so deep that renders it almost black, jamuns carry a taste that is somewhat tart even when it does ooze some sweetness in its juicy flesh. Whether you choose to eat them raw or incorporate them in your diet the jam and jelly or juice and syrup way, this is a pretty looking fruit that will endow you with enormous doses of health in even its tiniest of size.
Chalta (Elephant Apple)
Native to the southeastern part of the Asian continent is quite diversive a fruit- the elephant apple. Named also as diversely- being quite a popular fruit with elephants, both in eating and in playing around, the elephant apple is essentially a mildly sour tasting blob of goodness. Eaten raw, mashed and mixed with condiments or alternatively made into curries, popularly fish and pork curries, this is a fruit quite versatile. Even as pickles or chutneys, this exotic fruit finds a wide range of use and is revered for its health benefits. Found growing in abundance in the wild, mainly in the states of Assam, Bihar, Odisha and the sub Himalayan tract, elephant apples make for a delicious range of the authentic local cuisine of such regions.
Taal (Ice Apple or Sugar Palm fruit)
One of the most loved summer fruits in the country, the taal boasts of a delicious sweet taste. Cool, delicious and refreshing, this fruit that is native to India is popular also as ice apple, toddy palm, wine palm or sugar palm. Brown and hard on the outside and a translucent jelly like interior characterise this fruit that is the main ingredient of the popular traditional alcoholic beverage toddy.
An immensely nutritious fruit, ice apples are also made into delicious sweet fritters that make for delightful tea accompaniments or can even be enjoyed as snacks by themselves. In its versatility, the fruit also makes for delectable kheer servings. The tree of this fruit is the official tree of Tamil Nadu, which is one of the regions where it is a mainstay in India. Other taal growing regions in the country encompasses the mostly coastal states of Maharashtra, Goa, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.
Bael (Wood Apple)
A quintessential summer fruit and one that holds religious significance in its symbolic offering to Lord Shiva, the wood apple is one of the rare fruits you will find in India. Locally known as bael, the fruit is itself a wonder in its physicality. Wooden like in exterior that needs to be broken, the interior resides in a sticky fibrous pulp that can be scraped off and eaten in its raw form. Or it can be mixed with milk to make such refreshing sherbets that is the authentic summer cooler. Tart when raw to semi sweeet when ripe, the bael juice is often sweetened with jaggery for a more delightful taste.
Native to some parts of Asia, the fruit can also be mashed and mixed with condiments to be used as pickles. In India, regions like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and the western Himalayas see an ample cultivation of bael trees.
Indian Jujube (Apple Ber)
The Indian Jujube or Indian plum is another of the rare berry like fruits native to parts of Asia and grown abundantly in India. Usually oval or oblong in shape, this green fruit takes on hues in transition as it grows riper. In its white flesh also, the ripening effect is apparent in terms of taste- sour to semi sweet. Known for its aroma and bitey texture that which leaves an explosion of juicy flesh in your mouth, this is a fruit that is mostly available during the later part of winters. A ceremonial offering during the Vasant Panchami celebrations especially in the north eastern part of the country, the jujubes are mostly eaten raw though they are enjoyed candied and pickled as well.
Chakotra/Batabi Lebu (Pomelo)
A huge, rotund fruit native to southeast Asia, Pomelo is a mildly sour tasting summer delight relished in some parts of India. With a green exterior that turns yellow on ripening, pomelos come with an interior characteristic of other citrus fruits. Segmented like oranges, the pale red or sometimes translucent interiors are often mixed and mashed with salt and chilies as an indulgent ritual of scorching summer afternoons. Well incorporated also into the cultural realm of some states as Assam and Meghalaya, this exotic fruits stems mainly from the eastern and northeastern regions of India. In fact, the Assamese variant of the pomelo is distinctively popular as the sour pummelo. Outside the eastern expanses of the country, the tree and its fruit also grow in the southern reaches of Kerala and Karnataka.
Bilimbi (Tree Sorrel)
Close cousins of the more popular star fruits, the somewhat rare bilimbi is however widely available in the warmer and coastal regions of India. Tangy, green and firm when raw and pleasant tasting with hints of sweetness in its tender and glossy ripe avatar, the bilimbi is a pretty looking fruit that comes also with associated benefits. Eaten sliced and diced as well as in chutneys and preserves and jams, the fruit again finds roots in Indian states like Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Goa.
Ambarella (Indian Hog Plum)
One of the most versatile of fruits, this rare presence in India is a rather diversive encompassment in terms of taste. Astringent in taste, the hog plum or wild mango is a primary element of some traditional dishes even when it is equally popular in its raw form. Native to the tropical Americas but a recurring phenomenon throughout most of Asia, these yellowish green fruits boast of a pale red to pink interior. One of the foods rich in iron and also tremendous amounts of vitamin C, this is a seasonal fruit that comes with an array of benefits. Prominent also in its medicinal uses that which come to fore in its cuisinal encompassments as well, the Indian hog plum is a prime occurrence in the Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Goa.
Litchi might not exactly be one of the rare fruits in India but in its exclusive dominion being the south eastern part of Asia, it still is a delight largely pertaining to our part of the world. In fact as one of the major producers of this fruit that looks as pretty as it tastes sweet, India relies on its four states of Bihar, West Bengal, Tripura and Assam to occupy a dominant portion of the litchi market.
A spiky pink red exterior envelops a fleshy and juicy pale white pulp that which encloses an inedible seed. Exquisitely sweet when ripe, this is quite a dessert fruit as far as the exotic flavour is concerned. Again a fruit available for a short period of time during the onset of summers, litchi is one of the most loved fruits even when the seeds of this delicious fruit has been found to contain such compounds that can lead to poisoning in humans.
Another tangy fruit, the tree of which is native to southeast Asia are brown yellow roundrels of translucent juicy flesh we relish as langsat. Popular however by different names in different regions of the country like leteku in Assam, bubbi in Sylhet and so and so forth, these sweet when ripe fruits are common occurrences in some parts of eastern and southern India.
Jungli Jalebi (Camachile)
The sweetmeat jalebi almost acquiring the place of pride as being the national sweet of India, it’s only apt that one of the rare fruits here is one locally popular as the Jungli Jalebi. With an appearance indeed resembling the iconic sweet that lends it its desi name, the jungli jalebi or kodukkapuli is however not native to India. Also popular as Madras thorn, Manila Tamarind or Camachile, this is a fruit that comes in spiralling green pink pods. Inside there rests a thick sweet pulp generally eaten raw or made into refreshing drinks. Even the tangy black seeds of the exotic fruit go into making curries. In India, jungli jalebi generally goes wild which is why the jungli prefixing its name. Particularly in the southern states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh as well as in West Bengal and Maharashtra, this fruit is found in abundance.