Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Whats in the name...?

                Passing by in a Street in Bangalore recently I noticed  a push cart vendor  selling this colorful bean shouting Gorka pilli  Gorka pilli  in a high pitch. I was amazed by the unique name  and recalled seeing it and that I had  munched a few decades back. During my childhood days after playing all day I used to climb the thorny trees in Bangalore and eat the raw pulp in it.
                After  years rolled by I did not notice this tree around or went behind searching  for this sweet bean. Later came to know that  this fruit is called by name  as a “Manila tamarind” pithecellobium dulce despite bearing no relation to the tamarind. The other name is “Madras thorn,” though it has no roots in Madras and just tree having thorn on branches. The camachile is native to Mexico, S. America and C. America. They came over to India, where it has several names: Korkalikka is the local Tamil name, because of its coil shape it is also called “ Jungle Jilebi.” Though these plants are durable and grow like weeds (especially in India), to a height of 10 ft and they’re not a common commercial crop. The fully grown up tree resembles tamarind tree  bear fruit from March through May.The tree has thorns and one has to be cautious while climbing it. But tasting the raw beans after removing from the pod gives a feeling that climbing on to tree is worthwhile..!.Though the carries name tamarind or resembles tamarind the beans are sweet and tastier. Manila tamarinds are ripe when they go from green (their natural color on the tree) to a lovely pinkish gold color. Another indication of ripeness is that the fruit should be exposed: seeing the white flesh peeking out from the peeling skin isn’t a sign that the fruit’s gone bad—it’s a sign that it’s ready to eat. Like the tamarind, Camachiles are opened by peeling off the thin exterior and eating the flesh surrounding the large black seed. Unlike the tamarind, though, Camachiles have a softer skin that requires peeling almost like a green bean.The manila tamarind has a sweet, musky acidic taste, bearing resemblance to coconut flesh. The redder ones have a more desirable taste than the green ones as well.The texture is chewy, doughy and a bit grainy—it dissolves well on the tongue. Like the tamarind, each pod has a large seed surrounded by flesh. The white flesh in a Camachile is the edible portion. A ripen fruit  has high nutritional value high in water content, proteins,carbohydrates, fats,Vitamin A,B and C , Sodium and  Iron.

Health Benefits of Manila Tamarind:

Manila tamarinds are exceptionally high in vitamin C, which bolsters your immune system, staves off strokes and reduces phlegm. It’s also full of cancer-fighting antioxidants
Its high thiamine content also helps the body convert sugars into energy, which has a great impact on one’s mood: the greater the conversion, the better your body’s nervous system and stress level stabilization. In Eastern Nepal, it’s a medicinal plant used to combat fever.The stem is used to treat dysentery.The leaves help with Intestinal disorders and possibly, tuberculosis. Some researchers have found potential in the Camachile’s antioxidants’ ability to fight off liver disease (hepatic oxidative dysfunction, to be specific).

                    If  you have better luck and come across this tree by happenstance or a vendor selling them from his farm behind taste it sure and find the difference..!

Text and pictures : Vishwanath R Dugganahalli

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