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List of Native Fruits

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India, a nation adorned with remarkable biodiversity and steeped in cultural heritage, is bestowed with an astounding array of indigenous fruits that mirror the diversity of its landscapes. From the verdant valleys of the Himalayas to the coastal plains of the south, and the arid deserts of the west to the dense forests of the east, each region proudly presents its distinctive collection of tantalizing and nourishing fruits. This blog post embarks on a delightful expedition to explore a selection of India’s native fruits, revered and cherished across generations.

The country can boast of as many as 50 indigenous fruits. And if you take their wild relatives and allied species into account, the number of native varieties goes up to a whopping 400. After reading this blog post, I took on the mission to bring these Fabled Fruits as they have called them to the masses so that more people can appreciate and spread this biodiversity.

Jamun (Syzygium cumini)

Jamun, known as the Indian blackberry or Java plum, is a small, purple fruit that thrives abundantly in India. Boasting a distinctive sweet and tangy taste that tickles the palate, jamun is relished both as a fresh fruit and as a key ingredient in refreshing summer beverages and traditional desserts. This fruit is treasured for its medicinal properties, believed to aid digestion, control diabetes, and enhance oral health.

Amla (Phyllanthus emblica)

Recognized as the Indian gooseberry, amla stands as a nutritional powerhouse and a staple in Ayurvedic medicine. This small, green fruit brims with antioxidants and vitamin C, making it a valuable addition to one’s diet. Amla is commonly consumed as juice or pickles, boasting a tangy and slightly bitter taste that can be an acquired pleasure. Furthermore, it finds application in various herbal hair oils and beauty products, owing to its nourishing properties.

Pomegranate

Pomegranate, with its jewel-like arils bursting with vibrant flavor, is a cherished native fruit of India. Known for its sweet and tangy taste, this fruit is not only a culinary delight but also a rich source of antioxidants and vitamins. Its ruby-red seeds add a burst of color and refreshing complexity to salads, desserts, and juices, making it a favorite among health-conscious individuals and gastronomes alike.

Aonla (Embilica officinalis)

Aonla, also called the Indian gooseberry, is a powerhouse of nutrients and medicinal properties. This tart fruit, renowned for its high vitamin C content, has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. From rejuvenating tonics to delectable chutneys, Aonla finds its way into various culinary preparations, offering a tangy and revitalizing experience.

Ber (Zizyphus species)

Ber, a group of species from the Zizyphus family, adorns the Indian landscape with its small, round fruits. Packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, these sweet and chewy berries make for a delightful snack. Whether enjoyed fresh or used in jams, jellies, or desserts, ber showcases its unique combination of sweetness and subtle acidity, creating a distinct flavor profile.

Grapes

Grapes, grown abundantly in various regions of India, offer a succulent and versatile fruit experience. From juicy green varieties to deep purple gems, grapes captivate taste buds with their natural sweetness and refreshing juiciness. These versatile fruits are enjoyed fresh, used in winemaking, and transformed into jams, jellies, and raisins, showcasing their diverse culinary potential.

Mango (Mangifera indica)

Reigning as the “King of Fruits,” the mango holds an extraordinary place in the hearts of Indians. Its sweet aroma, luscious texture, and irresistible flavor have made it the most beloved fruit in the country. India stands as the world’s largest producer of mangoes, cultivating a diverse range of varieties such as Alphonso, Kesar, Langra, and Totapuri. The peak mango season, which arrives during the scorching summer months, becomes a time of jubilation and indulgence for mango enthusiasts throughout the nation.

Mangosteen

Hailing from the tropical regions of Southeast Asia, the mangosteen has found a home in certain parts of India. Renowned as the “queen of fruits,” it boasts a thick, purple rind that encases luscious white segments. Mangosteen’s exquisite flavor is a delicate balance of sweetness and tang, making it a coveted delicacy. With its rich antioxidants and potential health benefits, this tropical treasure has earned its place among India’s native fruits.

Ash Gourd

Ash gourd, with its pale green and waxy skin, is a versatile native fruit of India. Known for its mild flavor and high water content, it is often used in soups, stews, curries, and traditional Ayurvedic preparations. Ash gourd’s tender flesh absorbs the flavors of the dishes it is cooked in, providing a refreshing and cooling element to the palate.

Chironji

Chironji, also called Charoli, is a lesser-known fruit native to India. Its tiny, almond-like seeds are highly prized for their delicate flavor and crunchy texture. Chironji finds its way into both sweet and savory dishes, adding a unique nutty note and enhancing the overall gastronomic experience.

Jackfruit (Panasa)

Jackfruit, a true tropical marvel, is an iconic fruit deeply rooted in Indian culinary traditions. Its massive size and distinctive aroma make it a showstopper. The flesh of ripe jackfruit is sweet and juicy, resembling a blend of flavors that range from pineapple to mango. This versatile fruit also offers an unripe version with a meaty texture, often used as a vegetarian substitute in various dishes.

Peelu (Miswak/Jaal Tree) Salvadora persica

Peelu, derived from the Miswak or Jaal tree, is a lesser-known fruit in India. It offers a unique and distinct taste experience. The pulp of Peelu is tart and astringent, which is why it is often used as a natural toothbrush due to its oral health benefits. Additionally, the fruit is occasionally enjoyed for its tangy flavor when ripe.

Peenju

Peenju, a native fruit of India, holds a special place in local cuisines. With its vibrant red color and sour taste, it adds a tangy twist to pickles, chutneys, and traditional dishes. Peenju’s distinctive flavor profile contributes to the complexity of Indian cuisine, tantalizing taste buds with its unique zing.

Jhinj

Jhinj, a lesser-known fruit native to India, offers a refreshing and tangy taste. With its crisp texture and mild acidity, it is often used in regional cuisines to create thirst-quenching drinks, sherbets, and syrups. Jhinj’s distinct flavor profile provides a distinct culinary experience.

Khirni/Rayan (Mimusops)

Khirni, also known as Rayan, is a native fruit that offers a delightful tropical experience. With its smooth, orange-yellow skin and sweet, juicy flesh, it satisfies the palate with its succulent flavor. Khirni is enjoyed fresh and is a popular ingredient in ice creams, desserts, and jams, showcasing its tropical sweetness.

Ambarella (Indian Hog Plum)

Ambarella, commonly known as the Indian hog plum, is a tropical fruit cherished in India. Its green, mango-like appearance conceals a tangy and slightly sweet flavor. Ambarella is often used to prepare refreshing beverages, pickles, and chutneys, offering a tangy twist to culinary delights.

Water Apple

Water apple, also known as rose apple or jambu, thrives in the tropical climate of India. With its crisp and watery texture, this fruit offers a mildly sweet and refreshing taste. Water apple is commonly enjoyed fresh, added to fruit salads, or used to make thirst-quenching beverages, showcasing their cooling properties.

Elephant Ear Fig

The elephant ear fig, characterized by its large, heart-shaped leaves, bears small, sweet figs that are cherished in certain parts of India. These figs have a unique, honey-like sweetness and are often consumed fresh or incorporated into desserts, jams, and preserves. The elephant ear fig adds a touch of indulgence to culinary creations.

Elephant Apple (Bhavya) [Dillenia Indica]

Elephant Apple, scientifically known as Dillenia indica, is a unique fruit native to India and other parts of Southeast Asia. It is also referred to as “Chulta” or “Ou” in different regions. The fruit gets its name due to its large size, which resembles an elephant’s foot.

Elephant Apples have a distinct appearance with a thick, greenish-yellow rind that is covered in small, hard bumps. The flesh of the fruit is sour and juicy, with a tangy flavor reminiscent of a combination of apple and citrus. The fruit is often consumed raw, and its refreshing taste makes it a popular choice for making beverages, jams, and pickles.

In traditional medicine, various parts of the Elephant Apple tree, including the fruit, bark, and leaves, are used for their therapeutic properties. It is believed to have digestive and cooling effects, and the juice extracted from the fruit is used to alleviate stomach-related ailments and promote overall well-being.

Jungli Jalebi/Kodukkapuli (Camachile)

Jungli jalebi, also known as Kodukkapuli, is a fruit native to India, particularly found in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and West Bengal. This tamarind-like fruit offers a balance of tanginess and sweetness, leaving a delightful taste on the palate. Jungli jalebi is often enjoyed as a snack or used in the preparation of jams and jellies, adding a unique flavor profile.

Bael (Wood Apple)

Bael, also called wood apple, is a fruit that thrives in various regions of India, including Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, and the western Himalayas. Its tough outer shell houses a fragrant, fibrous pulp with a sweet and tangy taste. Bael is commonly used to make refreshing summer drinks, sherbets, and traditional Ayurvedic preparations.

Tadgola/Targola/Taal (Ice Apple or Sugar Palm fruit)

Tadgola, also known as Targola or taal, refers to the fruit of the sugar palm tree. This translucent fruit has a jelly-like texture and a subtly sweet taste. Tadgola is often consumed fresh, especially during summer, as it provides a cooling effect and hydrates the body. It is also used in desserts and beverages, offering a unique tropical experience.

Phalsa (Indian Sherbet Berries)

Phalsa, or Indian Sherbet berries, are small purple fruits that grow abundantly in India. Known for their tangy and slightly acidic taste, phalsa berries are a popular choice for making refreshing summer drinks, sherbets, and syrups. Their vibrant flavor adds a zesty twist to beverages, leaving a tingling sensation on the taste buds.

Other Notable Mentions

These native fruits of India showcase the country’s rich biodiversity and culinary heritage. From their unique flavors to their diverse uses in traditional dishes, beverages, and desserts, each fruit adds its own tapestry of taste to the vibrant Indian culinary landscape. Moreover, I invite you to share the names of lesser-known fruits or vegetables native to your area, adding to the tapestry of regional biodiversity.

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