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Assorted Bilimbi

SHEEBA GRACE JOHN

AVERRHOA Bilimbi, or Vilimbipuli or Irumpanpuli (in Malayalam), is a fruit seen in the backyard of most homes in Kerala. Unlike other fruits, it has not found a place in the market or been used in the food preservation industry. It belongs to Oxalidaceae, the sorrel family, and is a small pinnate-leaved tree cultivated in the tropics. The fruit resembles a small green cucumber and grows on the trunk and the older branches. The fruit is about two to five centimetres long and acidic in nature with a sour taste. The flowers are tiny five-petalled and maroon.

The fruit is a rich source of Vitamin C. It fights cholesterol, and is used as a tonic and a laxative. Syrup made from the fruit is used in French Guyana to cure ailments arising from jaundice. The fruit is also known to stop internal bleeding in the stomach.

The fruit was hitherto known to be used only in curries and in the making of pickles. A few recipes.

Bilimbi squash

  • Ingredients:

    Bilimbi (either cut into circles or lengthwise) 1/2 kg

    Sugar 11/2 kg
    Water 1/2 litre
    Citric acid 1 teaspoon
    Apple green colour a pinch

  • Method:

    Beat the bilimbi in a liquidiser after adding 1/4 cup water. Strain the pulp through a sieve and keep the juice aside. In another vessel boil the remaining water and the sugar along with citric acid. Remove the matter that floats on the top of the syrup, using a spoon. When the sugar is completely dissolved, remove from the fire and add the juice of the Bilimbi. Bottle in clean sun-dried bottles when cool. This can be used as an effective thirst quencher, adding water in the ratio 1:3 (one part juice and three parts water).

    * * *

    Bilimbi wine

  • Ingredients:


    Bilimbi cut into circles 1/2 kg
    Sugar 1 kg
    Water 5 cups
    Yeast 1/4 tsp

  • Method:

    Boil the bilimbi, sugar and water. Remove from fire. After it has cooled down by 30° add the yeast. When the preparation has completely cooled, pour into a clean, sun-dried bottle and close with an air-tight cap.

    Seal for 22 days. After 22 days strain out the wine through a fine cloth (folded into four to five layers). Keep this strained wine in an air-tight container for another 22 days before use. This has an original golden colour.

    * * *

    Bilimbi pickle

  • Ingredients:

    Small or medium sized Bilimbi cut lengthwise 1/4 kg

    Green chillies 5
    Garlic 10 lobes
    Ginger 2 pieces about one inch in length
    Wheat flour 1/4 dsp (desert spoon — 3 tsps)
    Gram flour 1/4 dsp
    Chilli powder 1 1/2 dsp
    Mustard and fenugreek 1/4 tsp each
    Asafoetida powder 1/4 tsp
    Salt to taste
    Vinegar 2 oz.
    Gingelly oil 2 to 3 oz.

  • Method:

    Add a little salt to the bilimbi and keep in the sun for two days, in a wide-mouthed, shallow earthen vessel. Pour the oil in a deep vessel, and season with the mustard, fenugreek and curry leaves. Then sauté the garlic and ginger after ground to a fine paste. Add the chillies and sauté. (Heat the wheat and gram flour and keep aside). Lower the fire and add the chilli powder and asafoetida. Add the salt and vinegar and bring to a boil. Then add the bilimbi and the fried powders. Remove from fire and bottle when cool.

    * * *

    Bilimbi toffee

  • Ingredients:

    Bilimbi pulp 1/2 kg

    Sugar 750 g
    Citric acid 1/4 tsp
    Milk powder 100 g (made into
    a thick paste with a
    little warm water)
    Glucose 100 g
    Ghee 50 g

  • Method:

    Extract the pulp out of the bilimbi after cooking in a pressure cooker. Puree out through a sieve. Keep the puree on a fire and when the water has reduced, add the sugar, citric acid and glucose. Keep stirring so that the mixture does not stick to the bottom of the vessel. When slightly thick, add the paste of milk powder and ghee. Continue to cook till the mixture leaves the sides of the vessel. (At this point a little bit of the mixture when slightly cool, can be rolled into a ball with the fingers). Remove from the fire and transfer into pre-greased trays and allow to set. Cut into desired shapes or roll into balls and wrap into butter paper when cool.

    SHEEBA GRACE JOHN

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