Recently I came across unusual fruits and drinks in Bangladesh.
Here is a Cham Kathal, looking exactly like a jackfruit, but only about six inches long.
Inside, a Cham Kathal has pods similar to a Jackfruit. However, they have a slightly sour taste. I understand the seeds inside the pods are also eaten, fried.
This fruit is called Deua. Inside it vaguely resembles Ata (custard apple), but again, quite sour.
Here are some other fruits, clockwise from bottom: Kath Lichu, Deshi Gab, Bel and Nuinya Fol.
Of these, the most intriguing is Kath Lichu. I just tried it yesterday. It tastes identical to Longan grown in Thailand and Malaysia, but it is much smaller (and the seed is bigger.)
I call these Galapagos potatoes, because of their resemblance to Galapagos turtles :-) Seriously, I have been unable to find out much about these potato-like roots. Someone told me about "Maitya Aloo" which may be this.
On the medicinal front, dried roots, barks and fruits abound. This man sells Arjun tree bark (useful for heart disease), as well as Trifola (combination of dried Amloki, Hortoki and Bohera - three fruits that, coincidentally, deer love to eat.)
Among drinks, Aloe Vera juice is very popular. Aloe plants are a cash crop in many places in Bangladesh.
Bangladeshis like their Shorbot - sweetened and flavored cold drinks. For example, one made from the fruit Bel is supposedly good for cooling during the heat (and for digestion.)
Then there is one made from Tok Doi (sour yogurt):
... and from Gur (molasses) with a sprinkle of Ishobguler Bhushi (flax seed?)
Here is some pre-made honey syrup for making more Shorbot!
I also love the Cashew apple but I don't have a good photo. I have not seen it sold in stores. You have to pluck it from the tree. It is filled with sweet juice inside, which bursts with flavor inside your mouth when you bite it. This year I tried refrigerating it - colder, it tastes much better. I understand people in CHittagong Hill Tracts make Toddy from it :-)
Conspicuously absent from the street is Beter Guta (the fruit of the cane tree) from my childhood. I understand cane is almost wiped out from Bangladesh :-(
A word to the wise: if you are bacterially challenged (ie, the bacteria in your stomach are used to western food, ie, you have lived in western countries for a while) then I urge caution when partaking.
Finally, I am gateful to Rais for indentifying Aloe, Stefan for teaching me about Cashew Apples and Gofur for showing me the Cham Kathal.