Monday, March 30, 2009

Palmyra fruit (aka. Nungu)

Palmyra trees are tall palms, capable of growing up to 30 m high. The leaves are long, hard, fan-shaped, 2 to 3 m in length. The flowers are small, in densely clustered spikes, followed by large, brown, collective roundish fruits.

When the immature fruit is tender the kernel inside the hard shell called 'Nungu Fruit' is like a jelly and tastes very delicious as well. Nungu fruits also prepared as nongu payasam, nongu ice cream and nongu fruit shakes. This fruit is well known for its amazing cooling effect.

In Tamil Nadu, the southern state of India, the seeds of the palmyra tree are planted and made to germinate and the fleshy stems (below the surface) are boiled and eaten. It is very fibrous and nutricious, called as "Panai Kizhangu". The germinated seed's hard shell is also cut open to take out the crunchy kernel which tastes like a sweeter Water Chestnut. It is called "dhavanai" in Tamil.

In addition to quenching thirst, nunku fruit has nutritional and medicinal value too. It is packed with minerals. With almost no protein, fat, or carbohydrates, the fruit is a boon for those on a diet and patients. The fruit along with other edible parts of the palmyrah is used for treating stomach and skin disorders.

The riped fibrous outer layer of the palm fruits are also boiled or heated in fire and eaten.

A sugary sap, called Toddy, can be obtained from the young inflorescence either male or female ones. Toddy is fermented to make a beverage called arrack, and it is concentrated to a crude sugar called palm sugar or jaggery. When the crown of the tree is cut, we get an edible cake from which the leaves grow out.

The leaves are used for thatching, mats, baskets, fans, hats, umbrellas and verieties of decorative stuffs.
[image: the delicious inside immature Palmyra fruit (aka nunku)]