This only happened a few times every year, just when the rainy season kicked in. A street hawker will come by, straw basket on head. He will yell "kaul chapni" and I will run out to buy a bundle of these. Stuck together like flowers, they looked like a bouquet. Every hole contains a little fruit. You break out the package, peel the tiny fruit that pops out and eat it. Done slowly, it can take you an hour to eat an head. Or did, when I was about 12 years old.
That was the last time I saw this fruit. I've never seen it again, didn't even know what it was called or where it came from. Three weeks back, Vikram Doctor wrote about a store in Khar that sells Sindhi foods. He described this fruit and I knew it came from my vivid childhood memories. And finally, I knew we were talking about lotus fruit.
Now talk about coincidences. Last weekend, I was passing by a lane in Bandra and for the first time in many, many years I saw the straw basket filled with my mytery fruit. It was like meeting an old friend. I wish I could say that the fruit was as sweet as my memories. The bag I bought was overripe and tough. But now I know where to look for it. Will be back with an update next weekend!
And Vikram Doctor, please write about falsas next. It's a tiny purple berry and again, I don't know what the world calls it outside Punjab. Maybe you'd be the lucky omen and I'd find that one too.
You've made me nostalgic about phalsas too..annd shahtoot. It's been ages.
Back in north India, U.P. to be precise, it is called 'kamal gatte' coz it's the base of the lotus flower, and the tiny fruit u like to eat are the unripe lotus seeds.
I hope this info helps in some way... :P