At my village, summers looked extremely humid and scorching. Yet, COLORFUL. Full of cashews, jackfruits, mangoes, cocum fruits…We had several farms of cashew trees. Some were on the plains, and some on the hills. The ones on the hills, was our only source of adventure then. Climbing onto the hills and sloping down, was our moment of YAAAHOO, then. I recollect once sloping down my sandals slipped off and I return home bare feet.
Trees were no less than playgrounds. We played games on the cashew trees. One of the thrilling games was to climb on the tree, and the one who reaches the top, wins it. I would love climbing, but the bloody red ants crawling on its branches would screw up every one’s chance of winning. A sting of the ant would drive us crazy out of pain. These ants would run into our ears, nostrils, hair, and just everywhere. Half of the time would clearly pass in shedding them off our bodies and clothes.
My grandfather, we called him Dada, a tall, thin gentleman, he would totally not like us playing on the trees, for we would swing on the branches to the extent that some branches would break out. My Dada was profoundly obsessed with his trees. And why wound not he? These big trees- Cashew, Mango, Jackfruit… would take years of years to grow.
He was stern but a kind-hearted soul.
Some of you may or may not know that the grey shell of the cashew nut is green in color, when in its raw, tender form . The Cashew apple grows from it, and eventually the seed turns grey. But do you know even before it turns grey, the green nut (known as Bibe in Konkani) contains a magical ingredient inside it? Even if it’s raw, what it holds inside is edible. Delicious and toothsome. And, mind-blowing. If you hail from Goa or western coast of India or the Konkan region, you would at least have a memory or two of your mother or granny cooking Kaju Biya (Cashew seeds) delicacy.
I hardly see anyone cooking the traditional Kaju Biya these days. But, occasionally, you get to hog on it in weddings and parties.
The biggest challenge that lied in making Kaju Biya was to extracting the soft, tender bean out of the green seed. My Dada was an expert extracting the tender bean from the green nut. He would pluck some tender nuts, take a wooden stick as that of the chopstick’s length, pierce it into the nut right in the middle- he called it the EYE of the nut– and try to push out the bean growing inside it.
Dada would appear quite serious in his pursuitof extracting the bean out. We, little kids, would find this process interesting and intriguing the same time and even before we could squad and witness what Dada’s doing, “GOOOOO away, you naughty kids”, he would scream at us. The chemicals which release while extracting the bean out, are toxic to the extend that one might lose his sight. With that fear, we would run half a mile away, and enjoy the process from far. Upon extracting the beans, he would rub them off on to the soil as to wipe off the chemical. He’d then peel them off, take a couple of big leaves and wipe the beans again. The moment we’d notice him performing the last step, he would signal us shouting, “Now, COME ON”. To that we’d rush like it’s an end of the world. And even before he could offer us the beans, we’d unmannerly grab as much as our fist could occupy in one go. And instantly gulp them. They were fresh, soft, and appetizing.
See you next with another fruit of the summer. And a memory.
Tell me what’s your favourite fruit of the summer and why?
Picture Credits: Datta Gawas.
Previous Posts- Fruit For Thought- Mango.