Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Jambul Idlis with stories

An ancient Indian breakfast! Not really but the ingredients are. The Jabul (Syzygium cumini ) or Indian blackberry tree in our yard is like a mini ecosystem of sorts. During March to May when the Jambul flowers bloom the tree buzzes with activity. This tree is a nesting place for weaver ants throughout the year, once the flowers bloom, bees, butterflies and sunbirds make regular forays to the tree. This attracts birds like the 'Paradise flycatchers' (featured below) and other insectivores aves.

As the fruit ripens and falls down, it attracts small rodents and hence becomes a favourite hunting ground for rat snakes, which in turn attracts peacocks. The tree also attracts apex predators like me (Yes, all the above-mentioned lifeforms are darn scared of me) and I use the fruit to make nourishing breakfast interesting.

Take for example today's breakfast, made from ancient Indian grains of Proso millet, little millet, rice and Sorghum. Fermented overnight with 4 tablespoons of the previous day's fermented batter as a starter. This organic batter itself is quite nutritious and is made from ingredients that Indians traditionally ate. To this, we added the pulp and skin of the Jambul fruit (Indian Blackberry or Malabar Plum) which gave the idlis a light purple colour, light sweetish taste and some interesting history.

Jambul, tree and fruits are mentioned many a time in ancient Indian texts, not just as ayurvedic remedies but as part of philosophies and stories. I, however, remember it best from my days when reading stories from Kannada literature. According to the puranic cosmography, the entire Cosmos is divided into seven concentric island continents. Each concentric island separated from the outer one by different bodies of liquid- sea-water, sugarcane juice, wine, ghee, curd, milk and water respectively. The innermost Island was called Jambudvipa and this is where ordinary humans lived. Dvipa meant island. and the Jambu is said to be derived from the jambul tree. Considering the tree is very beneficial, there is no doubt it would be given such an esteemed position in our past history.

For now, though, the pulp of the Jambul fruit will grace our breakfast, desserts and wines. 

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