Siddhartha’s post on lovely lime pickle got me thinking about my favorite. Behold: The Amazing Ambarella!
Other names for this fruit and close relatives are Otaheite apple, Tahitian quince, Jamaica plum, golden apple and wi…The tree grows tall, reaching almost 20 m (60 ft). The fruit, which is popular in Asia, is plum shaped, sweet-sour and eaten at all stages of ripeness. Its distinguishing feature is a spiny seed. The spines toughen as the fruit matures, so that when eating conserve made from the almost-ripe fruit, the sweet flesh should be carefully sucked from the seed to avoid an unsolicited lip-piercing or a tough fibre stuck between the teeth. In the unripe stages the green skin is peeled with a knife and slices of the firm, pale flesh dipped in chilli powder and salt before being relished by street-side snackers or school children. Unripe fruit is also cooked in chutneys. As the fruit ripens it becomes yellow to orange in colour and more fragrant and sweet, though still with a good percentage of acidity. It has been described as having a flavour like pineapple.link
I don’t think it tastes like a pineapple at all, but the rest of it is pretty accurate. I’ve never seen ambarellas for sale anywhere in the U.S. and the web didn’t have much except for these odd little facts:
- The word”Ambarella” is Sinhalese, ultimately from Sanskrit
- The Dutch seem to be remarkably interested in it
- The bark of the tree can be used to cure diarrhoea
- Some hi-def tech company apparently decided to one-up Apple in the fruity brand identity sweepstakes
In Sri Lanka, ambarellas are made into chutneys, curries, and pickles of all kinds. Cut a raw one up, sprinkle a little salt, sugar, vinegar and chili powder…oooh, heaven. My grandmother had a gigantic tree growing right over her house, and we’d visit her carrying buckets during the fruiting season. I’ve got strangely happy memories of eating peeled, uncut ambarella while reading a book, only noticing my bleeding gums (those spines are shaarrp) when my mother grimaced.
So does anyone else have memories of eating an ambarella? Maybe you call it by another name? Or (and this would be fabulous) you know where I could buy some?!