Monday, September 03, 2007
the evergreen guavas
i have always been fond of guavas.during our schooldays in kolkata we used to refer to them as pyaaras.kaccha pyaraas and salt made a terrific combination.when we lived in chembur in mumbai, we had a guava tree that was planted by my mother in our kitchen garden.it was a perennial source of guavas. while in kolkata recently,i could not resist the temptation of buying a few guavas.unlike in mumbai where you do not get big sized guavas,in kolkata they are available in plenty.these are grown extensively in west bengal,bihar and up from where most of the guavas sold in the streets of kolkata come from.
thousands of years ago guava trees were found in central and south america.they spread from there to all parts of the world. it is said that 'incas' and 'aztecs' were extremely fond of guavas. peru is credited with having developed the technique for planting of guava trees.in various excavations, seeds of guava have been found with other grains reinforcing the fact of its antiquity.birds and monkeys are very fond of guavas.guava trees grow extensively in rain affected areas.in india,guava is extensively grown excepting in the hilly areas.allahabad is famous for guavas besides its mangoes.in certain rural areas guava is not sold by weight but a few of them are sold for a rupee.
known as the 'fruit of the poor',it is rich in vitamins a,b and c.it is not generally known that the amount of vitamin c in guava is much more than in citrus fruits.and it also has high amounts of calcium.even tea is made from guava leaves.from seed to rind the full fruit is edible,though the rind is slightly bitter.the middle is the sweetest. it is also helpful for diarrhoea and as an antidote for diabetes.it is antibacterial and an astringent.also regular consumption of guava can bring down the bad cholesterol level in the blood.it also helps in keeping the skin smooth.hence face creams have some guava in them! even the guava leaves have been found to be useful for extracting a blackcoloured liquid which is used to manufacture dyes used for colourprinting of textiles.
ripe guavas are delicious when they are eaten raw.icecream,beverages and jellies are also made with guava.when a few slices of peeled guavas are added to apple pie,it gives a special fragrance.they are added in salads and also served as a starter when stuffed with cream cheese.in cuba their leaves are used in barbecues.
guava tree and fruit have religious and puranic connections as well. on shivarathri,alongwith fresh milk and bilva leaves,plantain leaves and guava fruit are offered to lord shiva.in the jambhukeshvara temple in tiruchi,one of the five lingams is situated directly under a guava tree.
already wellknown throughout the world,the guavas have become more famous thanks to kiran desai's debut novel "hullabaloo in the guava orchard' .