Sunday, September 23, 2007

Pommelo Memories

This is one of those fruits that’s an old favourite but increasingly, a rare find. Come to think of it, it was always special, we would see it only rarely, but at least every year, in our home. Somebody had it in their yard, somebody would bring it, saying it grew in their home, and we’d tear it apart with relish, getting at the giant sections, peeling off the thick, dry skin that came away easily, and fill our palms with the firm flesh.



Oh, the pommelo (pummelo, pampelmousse, pamparapanasa in Telugu) is a different, delightful citrus altogether. Unlike its smaller cousins, the oranges, tangerines and such, whose interiors are softer, more wet and sections therefore slightly, just slightly, harder to peel without squashing, these are well defined. Unlike them though, this is more difficult to get through, because of its very thick rind and very fibrous interiors, but once you open it, it’s a juicy treat. This citrus fruit is quite an individual, its bittersweet taste sets its apart from the sweet-sour tang of its ilk.



My grandmother had a tree at home which died only in the last couple of years. I remember my aunt bringing it to a friend’s house, where the Aunties, who were making a vegetable salad for lunch, very matter-of-factly cut it up, scooped the flesh and put it in. It made a pretty picture alright, pale pink flesh and all, I remember thinking, but who would ever use that in a salad? (I had yet to evolve, as you can guess.) And how could they mix up such an increasingly rare fruit with plain old vegetables and not savor it by itself? Then came lunchtime, and the salad, with a very plain dressing of olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper came alive with the texture of these pommelo chunks. What were the rest of the ingredients? Onion, cucumber, carrot is what I remember, and some moong sprouts as well. Well, I may be imagining the sprouts but they go well with citrus fruit, I know that for a fact. I’ve even seen recipes for pommelo salads with shrimp but am yet to try them. There’s a yellowish-fleshed variety as well.



I’ve eaten pommelo marmalade once – that was the first time I got to know the English name of this fruit. My friend’s mother had made it from one fruit and ended up with quite a lot. The little browsing that my lately faulty Internet connection permitted me to do told me this fruit’s rind is better used for candied peel and that it’s native to South-East Asia. I still like it best sans embellishments, in all its natural glory. And I like to have it all to myself.


Last weekend, on a sudden trip home for Vinayaka Chaturthi, I noticed carts selling these. This is the only time I see them in the market. Then they made their appearance on the dining table in a relative’s home. I ate greedily, and was thrilled to carry the leftovers home and eat more. Our hostess sent over one more that evening, and I bought a couple more. One more that miraculously appeared in the fruit bowl at home made its way into my bag, Dad and Mom telling me very graciously that neither of them would eat it when I asked them if they minded. “Keep some for my guide,” said The Spouse, who’s working towards a Ph. D, “at least from my share of the fruit,” only to be told he didn’t have a share. I now have two more left. The first was peeled painstakingly, shapely, for the camera, and a knife plunged and dug through the second to rapidly fill a bowl with the booty, which made a delicious, light chilled dessert after a busy day at work.

This is my submission for Kalyn’s Weekend Herb Blogging this week, hosted by Myriam at Once Upon a Tart this week.

44 comments:

  1. The pomelos i get here are bright orange! And GOD, are they tart! :) Cant imagine eating them as is.

    ReplyDelete
  2. WOW! One of my favorite fruits..... You are sooo cruel, showing it off like that... I didn't know the English name for it, off to the net to search if there is any available on this side of the planet....

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sra, Is Pommelo same as Grape Fruit? I have seen them once while in India? It is an acquired taste but once acquired hard to give up.

    ReplyDelete
  4. OMG! that indeed is a rare find! I have seen that only once! and i liked it. There are so many more fruits that are not seen much these days.....there used to be this fleshy fruit called lokaat/lagaath/loquat, no longer available!

    ReplyDelete
  5. My grandfather has these in his backyard in the coffee estate, we used to eat them too.It's sweet,tangy and bitter all at the same,really juicy. Looking at it brought a smile on my face. Enjoy!:)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Shyam, really? Would love to see a bright orange one!
    Sig, is there anything you can't get in the US of A? I'm sure the S E Asian stores will have some.
    Indo, from what I can make out, it's loosely called grapefruit but not the same. Grapefruit seems to be oval, this is conical, more like a teardrop. I will update the picture - it got deleted by mistake.
    Musical, I have heard of loquat, even seen its pictures, but never tasted it.
    Asha, yes, I'm going to open up one more right now!

    ReplyDelete
  7. We used to call it "batabi lebu" in bengali. isn't it similar to grapefruit ?
    I didn't like it much but chilled and with a little "kala namak" it tsates fine

    ReplyDelete
  8. I was and am not a big fan of this fruit. But as a grown up, I am trying to include this fruit as often as possible ;)

    ReplyDelete
  9. wow! here in singapore we are having pamelos from last two weeks and its been one of the favorite for the kids :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. glad i visited your blog , you have stirred up a lot of childhood memories!, i was born and brought up in a town called Dehradun which has this fruit in abundance,and i remember we used to smuggle them up to the terrace, open then up and half of it we used to relish with salt and lots of red chilli powder and to balance it off, the other half with sugar sprinkled on top, both ways it was simply delicious! Thx for the lovely post.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great post! I've had this a few times and occasionally see it in the market here. Love the idea of using it in a salad with a dressing of lime and olive oil; I bet it tastes fantastic!

    ReplyDelete
  12. i adore this fruit and it's so wonderful to see a post about it. the taste is somewhat like a grapefruit, but i prefer the pomel's texture.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Viji, thank you.
    Sandeepa, that reminds me, I had chaat-y fruit salad just once. Must try kala namak again, and have never had it alone.
    Suganya, you seem to be trying hard :). I don't like the other citrus fruit - naarinja, probably naarthanga in TAmil, I find it too sour, and even tho' I'm grown up, I don't make an effort to eat it. That's another fruit I don't see anymore, except in home gardens, btw.
    Roopa, how nice to have a steady supply!
    Bindiya, welcome to my blog. You grew up in Dehra Dun? How nice! My uncle was at school there.
    Kalyn, I'm so greedy for this fruit, as my post would tell you.
    Bee, yes, I love the way each little juicy bulb feels and fills the mouth with flavour.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Sra, i posted a reply to your query. The post did discuss the terms, but a detail reply for you :).

    Cheers,
    musical.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks for the introduction of this fruit, never heard of it before.

    ReplyDelete
  16. hey I love this fruit. never knew it was called pommelos. while in India I used to have them a lot. it has got great nutritive value.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Sra, pics chala bagunayi,I have eaten papparapanasa a really long time ago, all I remeber is its bitter taste. we used to add salt, chilli powder and little bit cooking soda on a slice, it would get bubbly.loved it.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I remember waiting for these in fruit baskets.... at weddings/engagements etc... I'd be jumping for bamblimaas!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Musical, thanks, I've replied too!
    Cynthia, I was thinking of your fruits post when I did this, wondering if it was available in the Caribbean.
    Sharmi, I wish I had a steady supply!
    Sreelu, chala kashtapaddanu aa photos teeyataniki. Thanks. Why soda, I'm curious. Just for the fun of it bubbling?
    Raaga, oh, it was part of the weddings too? Yes, bamblimaas has that fun ring about it!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Sra, yes for the fun of bubbling and noting else.me kastam telustundi photo's lo

    ReplyDelete
  21. Sra
    When the discussion is mustard you know I cannot stay away ;-) I saw your comment on one of the blogs about "Kachi Ghani" mustard oil.

    Long back when I was a child, it was the small mill, unbranded mustard oil, where the oil was extracted on first press of the mustard called the "Kach Ghani" mustard oil. I think "Ghani" is the olde worlde instrument used for the press and extraction of oil.

    As you said some brands do use that nomenclature, but I guess what they mean is the mustard oil is extracted on first press of the seeds

    ReplyDelete
  22. Sreelu, ee sari baking soda deeni kosame kontanu, not with this fruit but i may try if i see narinja, i find that v bitter.
    Sandeepa, I had a feeling that was what kachi ghani meant, since the discussion came up, I asked that question. In Telugu, the mill is called Gaanuga - it is a circular track dug into the earth. From what I've heard (never seen in action,only saw an empty track, so pardon the inaccuracies) In the centre is something like a pivot with a crusher attached. Or maybe the bullock is tied to the pivot with a long rope. The bullock is used to rotate the crusher which fits into the track which is filled with the oilseeds.
    The monotonous rounds of the bullock in the gaanuga have given rise to an expression which connotes a boring, repetitive and thankless task. Is that what a ghani is, also?

    ReplyDelete
  23. Yes Sra, I think that is what the "ghani" is. I have not seen it in real life, but only in pics. And yes there is a bullock going around in circles and we have a similar saying :)

    The way I am commenting on this you would think my life depended on it :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. i have never eaten this..must try it out, esp. when it looks sooo pretty!

    ReplyDelete
  25. I'd love to try one of these for breakfast. Actually, for anytime. ;-)

    Paz

    ReplyDelete
  26. my grand ma and my in-laws house we still have the trees.we make pulihora with it when we have lot many and some we make pickle.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Only occasionally do I stumble upon these in either Chinese-Asian or gourmet markets. I didn't realize how beautifully pink and refreshing they are. I can't stop looking at that first photo, Sra. The textures are amazing.

    If my college French serves me, "pamplemousse" means grapefruit rather than pommelo. In any case, I will try one next time I spot them.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Never heard or seen this fruit before.. Love its colour .. I think I have missed it..

    ReplyDelete
  29. And I'm looking for animal-powered ghani pictures on the Net like my life depended on it, Sandeepa! To get the right image in my mind. I tried many search words, came up with just one picture, a line drawing!
    Rajitha, thanks. Do try some! Now's the season.
    Paz, yes, it's a great anytime eat!
    Ramya, really? Is that your family recipe or a regional dish? Which region?
    Susan, ... the textures are amazing - I'll take this as a compliment for my photo too! And you may be right about the pampelmousse - I learnt French in Alliance Francaise, where they don't teach in translation - they will mime, dance, make faces but not translate - so when the teacher mimed a large fruit of the citrus variety, I forget how now, we guessed this in the local language and the teacher said we were right!
    Prema, you're Tamil, aren't you? Surely you must have heard of bamblimaas? That name always evokes giggles. Thanks for your comment on the cookbooks too!

    ReplyDelete
  30. i don't think I have seen them here sra! and belated blog anniversary and cheers to many more to come :) Congratulations!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Of course it's a compliment, Sra. :) You can't get such fine textural detail without good photographic technique.

    ReplyDelete
  32. mandira, Looks like S E Asian stores will have them, Mandira. And thanks for the best wishes.
    Susan, thanks! :)

    ReplyDelete
  33. Hey nice post sra....I have tasted them before...I love them dear...Nice presentation :-)

    ReplyDelete
  34. We have pommelos in the winter months here though the skin is usually yellow and the flesh comes in both yellow and pick. I'm not sure how similar/different they are since I've never had a green one like yours. I'd love to try it though!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Sirisha, thanks.
    Susan, I've only seen the yellow ones in pictures, here in India, I've seen only the green ones but both pink and yellow inside.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Wow thats my fav. We call it 'bamblimas' . My grandma had it grown in her garden.

    Nice presentation.

    ReplyDelete
  37. SeeC, bamblimas is a nice-sounding word, isn't it? Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Sra - my naani gave me two of those huge melons when I was returning from kerala. They were really tart, but still I had them all. I liked them a lot. I dont remember their mallu name. Maybe some mallu friend could help me here??

    ReplyDelete
  39. one of my favorites too! my earliest memories of them are in India where it went by the exotic "Bubbly-maas" - which i only ventured to guess is an adaptation of the French Pomplemousse :)

    pomelo/pummello are way larger than grapefruits here... and are indeed orange as far as i have seen.

    Love it with salt, chilli powder; love it with sugar; with some chaat masala or aamchur powder; even just plain.

    and, your pictures are so darn good!

    ReplyDelete
  40. Shella, I think it's called Ganapathi Naranga - our cook back home is a Mallu and he once told me.
    Sheela, it strikes me as surprising how many ate this with something or the other - we only ever ate it plain.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Oh..i know this fruit. We get them in karnataka too. I dont like it mush b'cos its too sour at times.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I lurve Pomelo! We call it Buungon here in Mindanao.

    ReplyDelete
  43. parthasarathy t7/03/2011 2:05 PM

    god bless all kind hrtd souls on this page and all its info.never xpectd to find the BAMBLIMAS (tamil only ?) on the net.

    was looking 4 its curative powers esp 4 Jaundice.

    ReplyDelete