Last week, I visited the great Indian city of Allahabad for the first time. I saw some awesome buildings built by the British during their colonial rule. But I was frankly disappointed not to find any food special to the area. I saw people enjoying chaat, but that was about all.
Then my eyes were attracted by rehris (trolleys) selling a red fruit. These looked like nectarines from a distance. On a closer look these appeared to be guavas but with an impossible red colour.
Are these guavas, I asked a fruit seller hesitatingly. Yes of course, take a look he replied and handed me one red guava.
Have you put some colour on these, I asked almost accusingly. What are you talking Sir, have you come to Alalahabad for the first time, he replied laughingly.
I bought one piece. Took it to my room and still not satisfied put it under the scrutiny of tap water half hoping that the red colour would come out. Nothing happened. Feeling a bit embarrassed at my naivete’, I cut the guava and greatly enjoyed its taste and smell.
Now something about the guavas in general.
The apple common guava (Psidium guajava; known as goiaba in Portuguese and guayaba in Spanish) is a small evergreen tree which is native to Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. It is grown extensively in various parts of India. The guava plant usually has three flushes: monsoons, winter and spring.
Of course, there are various varieties that orchards around Allahabad produce but the red one is what beats them all. Known as “Surkha”, meaning red, it gets better as the winter chill increases.
So take my tip, next time you are in Allahabad during the winter months, don’t miss the ‘surakha’ guavas.
My love is like a red, red guava (with apologies to Robert Burns).
Photos, text and copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath
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