I don’t know what this lemony-citrusy fruit is called in English. It is about four times the size of a lemon with a green, leathery, shiny outside and a pulpy inside with seeds. It is seasonal in Bangalore usually making its appearance in Sep-Oct-Nov. Ask for ‘Herlikayi’ in the market, and if you do manage to buy some, grab them as they make way for some lovely recipes.
The most obvious thing to do is to pickle them with salt, chilli powder and asafetida. This pickle has a different, unusual tang as compared to the lemon pickle, and is simultaneously tart and bitter on the tongue. They make you eat truckloads during your post-natal care...as grandma would sternly say, ‘this is the only pickle you’re allowed to eat now’. (who’s complaining!)
The other dish you can use these in is the chitranna. Proceed as you would for lemon rice. Heat some oil, add mustard, plenty of curry leaves, fresh grated coconut (be generous), roasted peanuts if you please, some broken red chillies, salt and chilli powder to taste. Mix this with steamed rice. Cut the Herlikayi into two halves and squeeze the juice generously on to the rice. Check for the taste- it is perfect if the tartness-bitterness, salt and chilli are all in balance. Eat right-away!
I’ve kept the best one for the last. This one’s a very rustic (read cool) way to consume this fruit and I love it. You chop the Herlikayi into two and keep aside. Mix salt and chilli powder and smear generously on both the exposed halves. Now switch on the gas to minimum heat and heat the fruit on the curved side-the exposed side is farther from the flame. You’re basically trying to release the juices and get them to blend in with the salt and chilli powder. Hold the fruit using tongs---requires some bit of deftness, but totally manageable! After about 6-8 minutes on the heat, remove and keep aside.
This is no party dish – this is meant for shameless, I’m-me, eating. You have to heap hot rice on to the plate and squeeze enough of this juice, mix in ghee and eat (remove any seeds that fall into the plate).
Try it and keep me posted, and if anyone has any other Herlikayi recipe tucked in somewhere, don’t forget to post them. Waiting…..