On a windy evening at the Coimbatore Golf Club I was introduced to M. R. Chinnasamy. And he asked me if I had heard of the Soursop fruit. I actually had and so he offered to send me one from his next yield. Soursop is the fruit of the Graviola tree. I was curious as to how he had come in possession of this tree. Remarkably, he had no knowledge of what it was until it started fruiting. He owns an organic farm close to Pollachi and a friend gave him a few saplings of this plant, saying that they would grow into healthy fruit trees.
The Soursop is hailed as a wonder cure for skin afflictions, many types of Carcinoma and respiratory illnesses. It’s juice and leaves are gaining publicity world over as having several healing properties. The flowers are upturned bell-like, pale yellow and bear a resemblance to the manoranjitham flower only much larger and thicker. The saplings are easily available in Kerala and occasionally in plant nurseries here in Coimbatore. The colloquial name for it is kattu aatha pazham. In Sri Lanka, these trees are currently being propagated for their many benefits.
I had tasted the soursop at a breakfast buffet. I remember it as being sweet and sour. The texture of the ripe fruit is as creamy as soft butter. The ripened flesh has the taste of pineapples and custard apples rolled into one. The exterior however is bright green and prickly. When the fruit ripens the skin turns darker.
The fruit takes three to four months to get perfectly ripe. Once ripe it stays on the branch only for a couple of days. That is the time to harvest it as other wise as the skin gets very thin and soft and it falls off the bough and bruises heavily which makes it inedible.
I made the mistake of cutting into the fruit when it was still not completely ripe. The texture was solid and firm and un-scoopable. I was unwilling to throw the fruit when it suddenly dawned on me that the unripe soursop was very similar to the raw jackfruit. I decided to try and cook it like I would raw banana or jackfruit. I peeled and sliced one half of the fruit into thin layers. The thin white slivers looked like slices of swiss cheese with little holes here and there! Into a bowl went some simple spice powders like turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and salt. A spoon of water was added to it to make a thin spice paste. I marinated the fruit in this paste and allowed it to sit for about 15 minutes. I put them into a warm pan, drizzled a bit of cold pressed sesame oil and since they were wafer-thin, they turned golden and cooked in no time. ‘Delicious’ was the verdict. I was so happy that I did not throw away the unripe soursop. I sprinkled some chaat masala on it, then a spritz of lime and I was pleased as punch.