The 'divine' 'Kul' (Indian Jujube)
Click here, to go directly to the 'Kuler Chatni' (Jujube Chutney) recipe..
As the winter wind fades to usher in the spring, one can find vendors selling Jujubes on various busy sidewalks in Bengal. The sour jujubes (ripened as well as unripened 'topa kul' and 'bon kul' (the wild jujube-a much smaller version of the Indian jujube) coated with oil and black salt and sold in newspaper cones are an absolute delight.
I love the 'bon kuls'........
And of course, there are the sweet (at times a bit insipid) varieties -- 'narkel kul' and the more recent 'apple kul' (which have started appearing in the markets for not more than 10 years).
During our school days, we were forbidden to eat 'kul' before Saraswati Puja. 'Saraswati Pujor aage kul khele, Maa Saraswati raag korben, tora porikkha e golla pabi' (If you eat jujubes before Saraswati Puja, then you are sure to face Mother Saraswati's wrath and are sure to fail in your exams), we were told by the elders of the house. Even though I didn't like the logic (how can goddess Saraswati fail me, if I study well and do well in the exams?), I didn't have the courage to eat jujubes before Saraswati Puja lest the goddess's wrath falls on me and l score poorly in the exams. And even if I did have a 'kul' or a two, owing to my forgetfulness, I would immediately ask forgiveness from goddess Saraswati. Thus, I resisted myself from eating 'kul' before Saraswati Puja for a major part of my school life.
[For those of you who may be wondering how the goddess Saraswati is related to exams --- Goddess Saraswati is the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, art, speech, wisdom, and learning.]
According to the myth, jujube is one of the favourite foods of the Goddess. Hence, as a form of tribute to the goddess, the fruit is offered to her before we (the mere mortals) can take a bite. However, most of the myths and stories do tend to have a scientific logic behind them. In this case, the fact that the change of season from winter to spring brings with it various allergies (due to suspended pollen in the air), cough and cold, chicken pox etc. etc.... And since sour foods are often known to aggravate cough and cold, the children are often prevented from having them. And what better way to prevent even the naughtiest and non-conformists among them than by inculcating the dread of poor exam scores??
However, Bengalis have always loved their jujube in the form of chutneys, achar (pickle), 'kul makha' or chaat, and so on...
Here's to the divine 'kul'/jujube fruit....
The much loved 'Kuler Chatni' (Jujube Chutney)...
-- Ingredients --
* Ripe Indian Jujube (approx. 150-200 gms)
* Dates (10-12 pcs) de-seeded
* Dried Red Chilli (1 pc)
* Julienned Ginger (4-6 pcs)
* Jaggery (if required as per required sweetness)
* Panch Phoron (for tempering) (1/2 tsp)
* Mustard Oil (3/4th tbsp)
* Turmeric Powder (1/4th tsp)
* Pinch of Salt
* Roasted Cumin (Jeera) Powder (1/2 tsp)
* Water (as per desired consistency)
Wash the Jujube and the dates and keep them aside.
Heat oil in a wok and add the red chilli and the panch phoron for tempering. Now add the ginger, saute it, and then add the jujube. Mix all and fry until the plum softens further.
Add the dates, turmeric, and salt and mix them. Then add water to the required consistency and bring the mix to a boil. If further sweetening is required, jaggery may be added until the desired sweetness is acquired.
Now add the roasted cumin powder and boil for a minute or so..
And voila the 'Kuler Chatni" is ready. Enjoy it as dessert..
Did you eat 'kul' before the Saraswati Pujas or were you the non-conformist type? Please let us know and share the Jujube dish you love most...