Friday, December 7, 2012

"Cheema Chintakayalu"

My previous post was on "Gaygulu", a tasty tuber of the Palmyra Palm tree. I mentioned in that article that the availability of "Gaygulu" has become very scarce in the Twin Cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. Having written of this, I remembered another childhood favourite of mine – Cheema Chintakayalu also called as Seema Chintakayalu, which have become extinct in our city and perhaps in all urban areas. My children have not tasted it so far! Cheema Chinta Chettu is the name of a tree and Cheema Chintakaya or kayalu are the fruits of this tree. The fruit is actually a pod; that contains white sweetish edible pulp over black seeds. The pulp has a very distinct and nice taste, which I am missing since very long. At the top of this article you can see pictures of Cheema Chintakaya trees and of raw and ripe Cheema Chintakaya pods.
Cheema Chintakaya trees are huge thorny trees. The trees grow up to a height of 15 metres and their scientific name is Pithecellobium dulce. Several years ago in my childhood we had three Cheema Chintakaya Chetlu (trees) in the large compound of the Company Bungalow allotted to my father, at Kothagudem. But after few years we got the trees felled as packs of monkeys were causing a lot of nuisance on the trees and in our compound and there was a constant visitation by urchins who pelted stones at the trees to pluck the pods and sneaked into our compound to collect them and even climbed the trees to pluck them. This was not easy to prevent as a Watchman was posted to our house only for night watch.
In English the trees are referred as Madras Thorn and Manila Tamarind and the fruits as Monkey Pod and Black Bead Sweet. And in Hindi the fruits are known as Jalebi Imli or Ganga Imli and as Tetul in Bengali, Kodukkappuli in Tamil, Vilayati Chinch in Marathi and as Seeme Hunase in Kannada.
As these are wild trees, I am sure people in villages still get to enjoy Cheema Chintakayalu. But here in the cities we have to live with old memories. This is happening with a number of other wild fruits, vegetables and greens. All tasty and nutritious but in the name of modernity or lack of knowledge the demand is gradually falling and they are vanishing from the cities.

6 comments:

  1. Thanks for providing the name, English and scientific, of this beautiful childhood delicacy of mine too! Monkeys and "urchins" have many things in common: nuisance. But they are so cute. Nature attracts us all so too them. It is unfortunate that we denuded our natural vegetation including these rare fruits to prevent monkeys and urchins. My elders too did the same. I am now compensating this damage. Wish me good luck please!

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    1. Thank you for your comments and wish you all the best.

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  2. Very nice & informative blog. I am from Bangalore and I had picked up some "reddish-greenish sweet tamarinds" from a street vendor who didn't know the name . I was looking for info on this fruit when I chanced upon your blog with picture of the fruits whose name I was looking for. After eating the fruit , I tossed the seeds onto my compost heap and to my great delight they have sprouted . I will be saving the saplings and planting them in a couple of years in my locality as avenue trees . Thank you for the lovely blog... I will be visiting your blog for longer periods in the future.

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    1. Thank you. Glad that my blog was helpful to you. Much more glad that you now have saplings of this great fruit tree and intend to plant them in your locality as avenue trees. That is very great of you. Wish you all the best in your effort to serve society through trees.

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