விளாம்பழம் - Wood Apple Sweet Salad
Vilaam pazham (விளாம்பழம்) (Limonia acidissima) commonly known as wood apple was one of the mostly ignored or forgotten fruit in south India. during my childhood days, i too did not know anything about this fruit. we used to see in the markets during Krishna jayanthi and Vinayagar chathurthi, that is, during the month of August and September. As a child, i wondered how this was a fruit, as this did not have any of those fancy features of being a fruit. In my house they never used to buy this during the festival too as nobody was fond of this fruit. so, i never got to know anything about this fruit. and more over this fruit was not very appealing too.. looked corky.. rough.. dull colour.. it was more like a cricket ball... how to break it?!
How to pick the right fruit:
Later... few years ago.. i became curious to learn more about this native and traditional fruit. I asked my mother how to pick the right fruit and how used to consume this. my mother said that she heard that people used to mix it with jaggery and eat it. but she did not know how to pick the right fruit. i did not google it. just bought it from fruit shop. bought couple of them. initially i wasted few fruits without knowing how to pick the ripe one. it either used to be unripe or spoiled with fungus inside. people use to give few tips to pick the right fruit like.. shake the fruit and if it is ripe then we could feel something shaking inside loosely from the shell. some people asked me to tap the fruit for some particular sound. nothing helped me. gradually, after few trial and error methods, i found it! my way of picking the right ripe fruit is... to smell. smell the fruit near the stalk. if the fruit is perfectly ripe, it would smell absolutely fruity. i cannot explain how will the fruity smell will be like. but you will know when it smells like one. and the outer light green shell starts to turn light brown. now to check whether the fruit is good or spoiled, check near the stalk again. it should be clear without any blemishes or any traces of fungus.
now you have chosen the right fruit. but you might not always get the ripe fruit in shop. so check for the clear stalked fruit and buy them. keep it covered in a brown bag and leave it aside. open after 2 days. and check for its smell. once it emits fruity smell.. the vilaam pazham or wood apple is ready to be consumed.
people say that this wood apple or vilampazham has many many health benefits. i do not care to know about it. i am interested in it as it has been traditionally consumed by my people and beyond that, i liked the way it tastes! so i eat it! and i am happy i like it as not many people would like it.
The vilaam pazham or wood apple when prepared properly and consumed, has such a variety of tastes (sweet and sour) and textures (fibrous and crunchy seeds) when you taste it dissolves in between your tongue and palate. the very minute, the sourness triggers the oozing of saliva and filling your mouth. i am just drooling the very moment im typing this :).
The sourness of the fruit and the sweetness of the jaggery compliments each other very well.
The preparation is quite simple.
- விளாம்பழம் or wood apple - 2
- jaggery or brown sugar - 4 to 5 spoons
- pick the right ripe fruit.
- hit it in the ground gently enough to break its outer shell.
- open it so see the fibrous pulp with white crunchy seeds.
- scoop out the pulp to a bowl with a spoon.
- add the jaggery or brown sugar (நாட்டு சர்க்கரை).
- mix well and mash it.
- now you will get a brown coloured mashed pulp which is sweet and sour.
- the sweet and sour wood apple salad is ready to be consumed.
make sure there is no fungus when the fruit is opened.
you can consume it right away or let it sit for 10 minutes. i have it right away :)
Happy cooking !!