Monday, February 18, 2019

Of Jamuns and Jambudweep!

Summer and Monsoons bring back several fond memories for me, one that stands out, is Jamun season. Munching on the salted tangy fruits on the way back home from school, stained shirts, chewing on the jamuns till the piths were bare and comparing purple coloured tongues would be, I am sure, childhood memories many of us share.

Jamun, Black plum or Jambu Phalinda (Sanskrit) is native to the Indian subcontinent. Our Puranas mention the division of the seven continents in which the Indian subcontinent is referred to as “Jambudweep” or the island of Jambu/Jamun trees.
Hindu and Buddhist texts place Jamun trees at the centre of the Universe. Hindu mythology places it as the favourite fruit of Lord Krishna, making it a popular buy during Janmashtami. It’s also (or at least used to be) typical of Lutyen’s Delhi.

Jamun is the first fruit of the monsoon season. The trees grow well in a broad range of soils, can grow up to 30 metres in height and live up to 100 years. Ibn Battuta, the famed traveler mentions the trees in his travelogue too, Travels in Asia and Africa, 1325-1354.

Jamun has immense value in the Ayurveda and Unani systems of medicine. The fruit, is a great source of iron and Vitamin C and known to treat ailments of the heart and liver. It’s also used to treat stomach disorders and its seeds are of special use for keeping blood sugar in control. Jamun is also a popular source for making wine and vinegar.

Adding salt to the jamuns is another stellar example of contrast in flavours, something that I believe, Indian cuisine excels at, at every level. Salt beautifully balances the astringency of the Jamuns and assists in the hydration process as well.

In this day and age where we are obsessed with superfoods and exotic berries, go ahead and bite into some Purple magic – for nostalgia and good health..


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