Spectrum: Belagavi’s summer favourites

A fruit vendor selling some of Belagavi's summer favourites. Photo by author

Come March and summer fruits in all shapes, colours and flavours dominate the streets and markets in Belagavi. In spite of the deluge of ice cream, cold drinks and other packaged stuff luring people during the four long months of summer, the residents of Belagavi, especially kids, yearn for local fruits that are available in abundance and at cheap prices. The Shahapur vegetable market and Ganpat Galli-Raviwar peth in the city area get crowded with people selling these fruits. Men and women with large cane baskets squat on the roadside or set up temporary shops with a variety of fruits arranged artistically.

One such summer fruit is the marble-sized karwande (kouli) or bush plum. This little fruit is found in the thorny shrubs around the fields on the periphery of Belagavi and the adjoining Konkan region. Green when raw, they turn deep purple or black after ripening. The white flesh turns pink on ripening and becomes sweet. It has soft seeds that can be chewed. The ripe fruit is eaten cut with salt and chilly powder. Kids love to gorge on this in the afternoons. Karwande can be pickled, added to kayrasa or simply ground into chutney. These fruits are generally sold in cones made of leaves. 

Jamuns or jambul is a childhood delicacy that brings back memories of some tree in your school or neighbourhood. These blackish-purple fruits, that turn the mouth into deep purple, are a delight to eat. The vendors carry bottles of salt and chilly powder with them and add a dash of the mixture as they hand over the fruit in a paper cone. These fruits are currently most expensive, sold at Rs 60 for 250 gm in the Belagavi market. The ripe fruits are valued for their diuretic properties and the juice is consumed by diabetic people.

Another local favourite is the jackfruit sold in loose. These sweet offerings in deep yellow need careful cleaning for they attract flies. Five jackfruit arils cost anywhere between Rs 10 and Rs 20. Dhamna or the Indian coffee plum resembles red buttons shaped like the number
8 and is loved by kids and adults alike for its sweet taste and floury texture. These are normally found only in the summer months. These fruits can be eaten fresh or made into jams, juice or can be salt-dried.

Charey (Buchanania fruits, the seeds of which are the nutty Charoli or Chironji used in basundi and srikhand) is rare to find and hence picked as soon as the market gets the wind of it. It offers two benefits, eat the sweet fruit and then crack open the sun-dried hard shell to get the seeds. 

The mouth-watering kairis — raw mangoes and gooseberries that stimulate your taste buds with the mere mention — also tempt people of all ages. Shahapur Market gets the fresh harvest from Belgundi, Ambewadi, Kanbargi and Kanbargi areas. Cashew apple is another seasonal delicacy found in Belagavi. With Khanapur, Desur and Bailur areas seeing a boom in cashew plantation, the fruit, after the cashew has been plucked, is brought to the market. This sweet and juicy fruit is also known for its sharp, astringent flavour. Its orange-yellow colour looks extremely attractive and the fruit can be consumed as it is with a dash of salt, as juice, or turned into wine, known as feni in Goa.

Most of these fruits owe their intense sweetness to the harsh sunlight of summer. These fruits are reminiscent of every local’s childhood indulgences and are etched in summer memories.

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