A tropical treat: Exploring Goa's summer fruit harvest

Dr. ALVARINHO J. LUIS | MAY 26, 2024, 01:04 AM IST

Although it's a sweltering summer, Goa has an abundance of seasonal fruits throughout this time of year. Here is a list of typical summer fruits of Goa.

Goa fell in love with mangoes (Mangifera indica) when the Portuguese introduced them to the region, and they have been living together blissfully ever since. The Portuguese word "Malcorado," meaning "poor-colored," refers to the superior Mankurad mango. Goa Alfonsos are large, pulpy, juicy, flavorful, and fiber-free. North Goa is home to more Malgessa, Malgueso, and Malgess—Portuguese names that translate to "difficult to digest." Additionally, two varieties of malgesh are available: Akno Malgesh (better quality) and Khand Malgesh (thick-skinned, poorer quality). Bishop mangoes are cultivated on a smaller scale, which is of average quality compared to other types. The name "bishop" comes from the enormous belly of a bishop. Culas mango with subvarieties is not overly sweet but a little tangy. In Goa, Hilario, Mangilar, Mang Hilario, etc., are as well-liked as Mankurad. Then we have Ferdinandina, Xavier, Nicolau, Afonso, Coloco/Culas, Monserrate, etc. The chemical mangiferin is an antioxidant with anti-viral, hepatoprotective, immunomodulatory, and analgesic properties. A renowned Portuguese physician, Garcia de Orta, has found that the bitter mango kernel is effective as an intestinal deworming agent, while roasted mango seeds were used to treat congestion.

The jackfruit or ponos (Artocarpus heterophyllus) is a superfood that is low in calories, rich in nutrients, and high in dietary fiber. Increased potassium levels strengthen bones, reduce the risk of stroke, and shield the body from bone-related illnesses like osteoporosis. It is high in water content which eases constipation. Packed with minerals like riboflavin, magnesium, folate, and antioxidants, it promotes weight loss and lowers the risk of dangerous diseases. With a low glycemic index, jackfruits are rich in antioxidants and fiber and can help regulate blood sugar levels.

Additionally, jackfruit's carotenoids reduce inflammation and guard against type 2 diabetes and other chronic illnesses. High levels of antioxidants contribute to developing a robust immune system. It also helps relieve constipation and functions as a natural laxative—the dietary fiber in jackfruit aids in mucous membrane protection in the colon.

The Portuguese introduced the Brazilian-native cashew tree in Goa to stop soil erosion in the 1550s. The nut is developed under the cashew apples that the tree yields. Cashew apple juice is consumed as Niro, which is then fermented and distilled to produce arrack and feni- universally famous drinks. Magnesium, abundant in cashews, combines calcium and vitamin D to maintain strong, healthy bones. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are prevalent in cashew nuts. Cashews include vitamin E, which enhances brain function related to cognition. The nuts' antioxidant qualities contribute to improved cardiovascular health and reduced inflammation. You can have nutritious snacks like roasted nuts.

Zambllam (Syzygium cumin) is another fruit that is in season now. You'll frequently come across beautiful purple fruit if you venture deep into the hilly areas. The indigenous term Jambudweep for the Indian subcontinent comes from the jamun fruit that grows there. When fully ripe, it turns a dark purple or almost black and tastes sweet, slightly tart, and sharp. People who have diabetes adore it. The seeds are ground into a powder to reduce blood sugar levels and dried. Jamun has been found to have antimicrobial properties, while the polyphenols in jamun have neuroprotective effects, potentially benefiting brain health.

'Kokum' or 'Binddam' (Garcinia Indica), as it is known, is more used in cooking than as a fruit. The fruit, known by many different names throughout India and used for various purposes, can be used to make "kokum sharbat," a cool beverage. However, fresh Kokum fruit, pink-purple in hue, is available throughout the summer. The fruit's outer layer is dried and used in curries and other recipes as a mildly sour spice instead of tamarind. Kokum is a common and widely used ingredient in Konkan cuisine. The ideal beverage to enjoy with Kokum is Sol Kadi.

The fruit known as Carissa Karandas, or "Kantam," is also found on the hillside. Usually, ladies sell these tiny purple berries on the roadside or in village markets in leaf cones. Khatta-Meetha, or sweet and sour, is the predominant flavour, which originates from the fruit pulp. There are two tiny, flat seeds buried in the pulp. You can also use the raw fruit to make pickles while it's still green and firm. This is the season to savour the sweet-sour fruits on a thorny fruit-bearing tree.

Apart from lemon sodas and kokum juices, love apples, often called "jaam" locally, are a lesser-known coolant that is great in the summer heat. They typically grow in white (light green) or pinkish-red bunches. This fruit is conical or triangular and occurs in two colours, dark pink and light green, as well as a variety of tints within each colour. It is a very tasteless and dull fruit. It is only a thin layer that you eat and is utterly hollow within, but it gives you the much-needed water you need to beat the summer heat. Wine is also made with them.

Juicy and sweet, watermelon is a centuries-old fruit that many consider the ideal delight to slake your thirst in the summertime. Vitamins A and C are among the many minerals and antioxidants found in watermelon, which has brilliant red flesh and tiny seeds throughout. Consuming low-calorie watermelon can aid with weight management by prolonging feelings of fullness. Lycopene – an antioxidant in watermelon may help protect against heart disease.

One can locate a variety of other fruits and wild berries, such as "Koneram" (Ziziphus rugosa) and "Chunna." Goa's hills are home to most of these wild berries during the summer. They provide an abundance of nutritional benefits.

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