Saturday, 3 March 2018

Vatamba...Vatamba!!!


“Kokum...kokum...kokum,  she said, but not a word about us!” 

“Yes, not a word about us”......  “yes yes not a word about us”....a chorus of voices muttering the same thing over and over again came from  the store room. 

I opened the door cautiously to see a whole procession of Vatamba slices looking as though they were about to march out in protest. I could see them all looking accusingly at me.




‘Now What?!!!!”

“You have an entire blog post devoted to Kokum!! And even one for Bilimbi!  What about us? We too impart  a tangy flavour that too without ruining the colour(?) like kokum! And what about our medicinal properties?”   ..... the chorus was growing louder.

“Okay okay shush!  I promise I shall wax eloquent over Vatamba” I said trying to quieten  them.

Hubby called out from the other room “Whom are you talking to?”

“No one .....in particular”  I replied........(Well you must agree that my answer was very truthful – I wasn’t talking to any one of them in particular. Thankfully hubby did not persist and quip back  “No one in particular?...Any one in general?”)

I quickly closed the store room door, it was silent again. I heaved a sigh of relief. Was I dreaming? Sure hope I was. But then I had made a promise, so here is my post on Vatamba. (Seriously I had no clue that they read my blog!)

Vatamba  -  The botanical name of this relatively unheard of  fruit is Artocarpus Lakoocha. Also known as Monkey Jack or locally called Kokum Phool by many.  It imparts a tangy flavour and is used in place of tamarind. It has anti-inflammatory properties and if one has been asked to avoid tamarind in the diet, then this is the perfect replacement.

I had no idea how this fruit looked or tasted until I saw it on the tree in our farm.  Green, uneven oddly shaped fruits hang at the tip of the branches of the huge trees.  



We have 4 fruit bearing trees on our farm, and quite a few young ones probably sprouted on their own from fallen seeds. Given the fact that seed viability is very low, we sure are glad to have these young trees on our farm, hoping that some day they too will grow into tall sturdy giants like their parents.

Now about the fruit.  I have faint memories of my granny mentioning wistfully that if only one could procure ‘Vatamba Sol’ and use it instead of tamarind,  her arthritic pain would not have bothered her as much.  But back in Bombay then, our regular grocer had not even heard the name.

The first year that we saw the fruit on the trees, our farm hand explained to us that it needs to be sliced  and then dried in the sun.  It is a very hard fruit and cutting it takes as much effort as cutting a raw jackfruit (kadgi).





Our farm hand had helped us cut most of it using a traditional cutter known as an ‘Adlee’, while we used what we are most used to -  a cutting board and a knife.  The cutting boards were thoroughly discoloured by the time we were through.  And this was the harvest from the first tree. 



Three more huge harvests followed.  The summer was at its peak and the slices dried beautifully.  






The next step was to remove the seeds from the slices. A systematic beating with a wooden mallet frees the  seeds and then they can be shaken out and separated. The last and most important task is to soak the dried slices in salt water for a couple of hours and then sun dry it again.  This makes them last the year through.



And how do we use these crisp beautiful slices?  Use them in place of tamarind in your dishes.  Put them in dal while cooking to make a delicious Sambar, add them to your Pulaos, Masale bhaat and Vaangi Bhaat.  The Goans love it in their Fish Curry, the Sindhis love it in their Sindhi Kadhi and we Amchis love it in our Bendi and Ghashhi.  And you can innovate and try it out in any other dishes.
 





Any one out there who loves this in some different unusual recipe, I would love to hear from you! 

2 comments:

  1. Hello Tanuja....would love to taste and buy Vatamba while we're there this month end.Love .Sujal Bijur.

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  2. Jaypal Shirodkar25 April 2018 at 09:32

    Nice read your blog about Vatambo(Ambo is mango,also used in fish curry in Goa & Karwar region. Vatambo also called as Garcinia cambogia.It contain calciam salt,which cuts the colestrol and widely used by American Pharmaceutical company in weight reduction management.Vatamno is more stronger then Bhirund which is called Garcinia Indica which saponins of 40% to 45% of calciam salt n Vataba-Cambogia 50% to 55% calciam salt.These 2 fruits are miraclesouly exception on the planet Earth that,it cuts the colestrol and the same time dose not allow you to starw/weeken, because it itself is a verygood food supplement.

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