Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Sweet Month

It is the middle of the Bengali month JoisTha, also known as the "modhu" month. "Modhu" means honey in Bengali.

So why is JoisTha the sweet month? Because our favorite fruits have ripened.

Sweet, fragrant lychees are in full swing. Of the many varieties floating around, I have tried three. The "deshi" ones have slightly fatter seeds and thinner layer of flesh around it. The "bombay" ones have thinner seeds but just as juicy - the preferred way to get these is to "book" a tree in Rajshahi and then share it amongst a group. Someone from work had done this and so I got a few hundred. The third variety I tried was much bigger than the other two with larger grains on them. This one was also delicious.

Another fruit that I did not taste in many years has also ripened - Jaam. These black ovals have an intense sweet-tangy taste and are extremely refreshing. The best way to eat them is to smash them up with some salt which softens the tang. Black outside and purple inside, Jaams tasted just as good as they had years ago.

KaThaals - Jackfruits - have also started arriving in the markets. Two main kinds - the soft, chewy kernels and the crunchy kernels (Khaja KaThaal) - have their own fanatical followings.

And the king of them all, mangoes - the early varieties from Rajshahi are available, including Gopalbhog, but the sublime Lengra is not here yet. Maybe in a couple of weeks...

(I do miss the California summer fruits, specially the incredibly sweet white nectarines and babcock peaches bought from farmer's markets - the grocery store ones were no good.)

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