Baobab Juice, The taste of Africa in the heart of Incridible India
The taste of Africa in the heart of Incredible India
Baobab (genus Adansonia), popularly known as the upside down tree, is a native of Africa but grows abundantly in the Mandu region of Madhya Pradesh (MP).
An African native, it is an inhabitant of the dry region. The Baobab grows in abundance in western, eastern and southern Africa, including Madagascar. It is also found in the Arabian Peninsula and even Australia.
The almost leafless tree has strange appearance and at first glance it appears as an inverted tree with its root pointing upwards.
The nine species of baobab varies in size from 5 meter to 30 meters but all have a huge broad trunk, giving it a bottle like appearance.
The trunk diameter can vary between 7 – 11 meter and can store up to 100,000 liters of water, essential for its survival in the dray climate.
Hollows are quiet common in Baobab trunks, and one such huge hollow in Western Australia, once served as a temporary prison!!! Baobab’s can live over hundred years and there are instances of the tree living beyond a thousand years.
Baobab was probably introduced in the Indian sub continent, quiet likely by Arab traders, in ancient time. Sadly there are no records of exactly when the baobab tress were introduced in India.
There are several scattered Baobab tress all over India, including two in the Alipore Zoological Garden, Kolkata. The Mandu region of the Vindhya Range is probably the only region in India where the baobab tree grows in abundance.
Probably the dry climate of Mandu was ideal for the African native and today the strange looking leafless trees creates a striking backdrop with the scattered ruins of the ancient citadel of Mandu.
The Baobab bears giant fruit, shaped like a elongated coconut with a velvety shell. In Mandu it is called Mandu ka Imli. Strangely the baobab fruit hardly resemblance the imli (tamarind) in shape, size or texture but it does have a distinctive sour taste, quiet similar to imli.
In Mandu during the summer season, the seeds and the dried pulp of the Baobab fruit are used to make a delightful sour refreshing drink.
Also chunks of dried babobab fruit pulp and powdered dried baobab seed & pulp are sold in plastic pouches. The later is used for making the baobab juice while the former is used for chewing.
Chewing the sour dried baobab pulp gives a juicy feeling and is extremely refreshing during the hot and dry summer months. But the baobab juice is not only a instant source of energy but also taste amazingly good.
The juice is made out of dried powdered baobab seed and pulp, which is added to water and steered. A dash of sugar is added and ultimately it is filtered to a sieve and the juice served. Even with the generous amount of sugar the baobab juice has a distinctive sour taste but it is refreshing and instant source of energy, which is very much need to explore the ruined citadel of Mandu.
The more adventurous ones can pop in a chunk of dried baobab fruit pulp to add a extra dose of energy. Dried pulp chunks and dried powdered pulp & seed are available in pouches of different sizes and can be brought back home to experience the taste of Africa, via Mandu in Madhya Pradesh (MP).
During the tourist session makeshift stalls sale the baobab juice and dried baobab pulp & seed in major tourist spots like the
- Baz Bahadur’s Palace & Roopmati’s Pavilion, Rewa Kund Group
- In front of Jami Masjid and Ashrafi Mahal, Central Group
- In front of Jahaz Mahal, Royal Enclave
A glass of baobab juice cost Rs 10. Dried pulp chunks and dried powdered pulp & seed are available in pouches of different sizes with prices starting from Rs 20 each.
Note: This trip was part of a FAM (Familiarization) trip of Hanuwantiya (Jal Mahotsav), Omkareshwar, Maheshwar and Mandu. Special Thanks to:
- Abhijit Dhar, Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (MPTDC), Kolkata
- My fellow FAM participants Uttara Gangopadhyay, Soumya Mukherjee amd Ishandev Chatterjee