Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Fruits of North India

Last year I had the amazing opportunity to travel to India and spend a month there. I visited family, learned so many things, shopped and of course, experienced local food. One of the things that stands out in my mind about my experience in North India were the fresh fruits and vegetables.

Every day the vendors would set up shop in the local market and bargain with customers over their produce. The best thing about it is that in the state of Punjab in northern India, most of the land is farmland. All the fruits and vegetables are locally grown, ripen on a tree like they are meant to and are pesticide free. No GMOs here!

What surprised me the most (although it probably shouldn't have), was the difference this made in the way the food tasted. Buying guavas from the vendor on the side of the road (our driver literally pulled over on a highway to buy the fruit for us) is an experience I will never forget.

Fruits like oranges, mangoes, guavas and papayas are plentiful and rich in flavour, sweetness and juice.
I truly believe you have not tasted tropical fruit until you've tasted it in the countries that they are grown in.

In India, spices are also often used to enhance the flavour of dishes. So while I am content to eat fruits in their natural state, my relatives introduced me to the REAL way of eating them- with salt, chili pepper and a little lime juice. Needless to say, it was a pretty heavenly experience for my taste buds. The sweet, salty and sour combination will leave you wanting more...and I often crave this now that I'm back home in Toronto.

So how to do this at home? Peel a papaya,  remove the seeds and cut into cubes. I often use sea salt but recently discovered that Pink Himalayan salt gives a more authentic taste. You can hit your fruit with a little red chili powder or black pepper (to taste) and then squeeze some fresh lime or lemon juice on top.

In India, the locals will often use black salt and spices like ground cumin to enhance the flavour further. They eat oranges, apples, guavas, pears even bananas in this fashion...and once you start, you will be hooked. In fact, even just writing about this topic has left me needing the divine combo of salty and sweet...right...now.
Wishing you all fruitful snacking!

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