fruits of the season
The heat rises in waves from the ground, making the air shimmer. Overhead, the sky is a fierce, hard-boiled shade of blue, while in around the city, in those increasingly scarce pockets where there are still trees, there is an explosion of colour as krishnochuras and radhachura blaze in crimson and golden glory. Throats are parched, the palm-leaf fans are rummaged out from the corners as a fresh wave of power cuts hits the city.
Yes, that fiery beauty Summer is back in all her radiant glory, and in her entourage is a veritable treasure trove of fruits.
With all the discomforts associated with this season, the fruits are definitely sweet redemption. From sweet to sour, smooth to crunchy, they come in all flavours and a whole range of tastes to suit every palate. We decided to take a little dance with the season's specials and see how they're faring in the market.
After weeks of posing as pickle and juice ingredients, this season's sweetheart is finally starting to ripen into her full glory. Ripe mangos are awesome taken just as they are, but taste even better when teamed with kashondi, or served with ice-cream (or made into ice-cream), or as toppings for a variety of different foods. The early-summer varieties are already hitting the market, although we'd recommend you wait at least another one week so that the real thing and not the 'souped-up' version is more widely available. Ripe mangoes are available at Tk 55-60/kg at wholesale price, or Tk 120 at retail outlets and superstores.
Packed with all the tangy goodness of vitamin C, it's a cure for fever, a sweet and sour addition to fish dishes, and tastes awesome whether taken in the raw, blended into smoothies, or caramelised into desserts.
Pineapples are definitely a must have this season. We recommend trying out the palm-sized joldugi from Rangamati, which is unbelievably sweet, and comes for about Tk 100-150 per hali. The other regular-sized varieties are yours for about Tk 15-20 per piece. With pineapples being exported to Pakistan now, the prices this year are a little on the steep end.
There's no beating this fruit when it comes to creating a refresher for this sultry season. Whether you're having it straight, or drinking it in juice form, watermelons are instant coolers. Depending on your bargaining skills, you can get one for Tk 80-100.
It might be called the 'jack' fruit, but in terms of nutritional value, this one's definitely a king. The unripe version makes for great vegetable treats, while the ripe ones are wildly popular, whether in the raw or made into ice cream. This national symbol is available at Tk 80-120, depending on size.
Palm fruit Polka
Another quick cooler, palm fruits, or taal are juicy and refreshing, and make the perfect low-cal snack. These are available as a large fruit, with four or five fleshy seeds, which are the edible parts. Each fruit costs about Tk 9.
Now you see it, now you don't. The lychee plays a tantalizing peek-a-boo every season, dropping by for a brief visit and disappearing, while the memories of its succulent sweetness linger. Although they haven't hit the market in full force just yet, lychees from Rangpur are available at Tk 220-240, while those from the other districts are cheaper, at Tk 120-180
Pani fol Pop
Another fruit that makes a crunchy, low-fat snack is the pani fol or water chestnut. These pear-shaped goodies are currently going at Tk 45-50.
Rich in iron and Vitamin A, the papaya is proof that eating right can taste good after all. Sprinkle on some lemon juice, add a little sugar, and viola! You've got yourself the perfect dessert for Tk 60-80
This remarkable fruit has the unique textural impact of being sticky, fleshy, grainy all at once. Its taste is simply indescribably…you have to try one to know what it's like. Available at Tk 50-80 it's a dish not to be missed.
Lengthy holidays, long, lazy afternoons, picnics and summer storms are all well and good, but there's no doubt that the best part of this season is the wealth of fruits it offers.
Note: Prices are subject to change
By Sabrina F Ahmad
Photo: Zahedul I Khan
Special thanks to Pan Pacific Sonargoan for the fruit carvings and fruit juices. Special thanks to Md Giasuddin for market information.