I was helping Sonal clean out the freezer (with numb fingers) and rearrange the food in there so that me and the customers would be able to find things easier. We took breaks to run our fingers under hot water and then put them back in wet gloves – maybe not the best method for warm hands. I found two bags of gooseberries (that Sonal didn’t know were still in there). Ken “The Cutter” bought the bags and offered to ‘make’ them and bring some back for me to taste.
A few days later he shows up with two in a snack bag. He wants to know what I think and as I bite into one I think, “I’m eating a future post!” – and it’s like an apple and onion (fibrous) in texture. It’s soft with a chewy crunch. The flavor – I want to say is a hint of chili and pickled – is intense maybe even tart (astringent and bitter). And it’s juicy. In the center is a swollen star-shaped seed that is quite hard.
I got home and did some research. In India, the fruit is called Amla. It has the most concentrated form of vitamin C in the plant kingdom – 20 times more than oranges. It has lots of health properties that improve hair, digestion and the common cough. It can be prepared many ways – in syrup for dessert, in chutney for dinner, dried as a snack, preserved as jam, or pickled, powdered, and raw (with or without salt). And apparently drinking water after a bite will make the water taste sweet – which I can’t wait to try.
Thank you to Sonal for your unorganized freezer (for someone else would’ve surely bought them) and Ken for preparing them for me. I almost thought he had forgotten or eaten them himself – I wouldn’t blame him now – they are delicious, but I learned that they can be soaked for 2-3 days in turmeric water to balance the taste. They are still in-season in India from Oct-Jan. Now to find a store (nearby or online) that sells them.