Thursday, May 3, 2012

Lapsi - Nepalese Hog Plum

Lapsi, Labsi, Lausi,  (लप्सी, लब्सी, लउसी) - Nepalese Hog Plum


Common Name: Nepalese Hog Plum
Botanical Name: Choerosopondias axillaries Roxb.
Family: Anacardiaceae


Lapsi (also known as labsi or lausi) are a native fruit of Nepal.  The tall subtropical tree can be found growing in many parts of the country.  The fruit is greenish-yellow when ripe and roughly resembles a small oval-shaped plum.  It is extremely sour, even when fully ripe, and has a high vitamin C content.  The fruit has a tough fibrous skin and pale yellow flesh, which is firmly attached to a large brown seed.  The pulp is difficult to separate from the seeds, but once cooked it separates easily.  A ripe lapsi has a pleasantly tart flavor and some people like to eat it fresh, but it is mainly used to make dried fruit nuggets or fruit leather (titauraa, maadaa, paaun) both sweet and salted.  It is also pickled, cooked with vegetables or used as a souring agent.  The stony seeds (champati) are used as a cooking fuel and some children play with the seeds like round marbles.

Vendors selling two big baskets of lapsi fruits with other vegetables - a great social atmosphere in the Asan Tole area of Kathmandu.
Capturing a picture of unripe lapsi fruit in the market. It looks like the lapsi was picked up too early and they may not fully ripen later.  Unripened fruit may produce low quality achaar (pickles) and tasteless titauraamaadaa, and paaun (fruit nuggets, roll-ups).

This roadside stand, next to a busy traffic area, offers freshly harvested potatoes, red onions, different varieties of green beans, lapsi fruits, fresh ginger, garlic, cauliflower, yellow lemon and other fresh vegetables. Choose from the best freshly grown vegetables and socialize with the locals.
Watching and observing -  a century-old way of life at the local Asan Tole market, which offers fresh and naturally ripe fruits, vegetables, and other seasonally grown local produce, and some seedlings - vendors are taking pride in selling their naturally grown produce. The ripe lapsi  is seen in the two big daalo (basket) in the front.
Lapsi fruits are allowed to remain on trees until they become fully ripe.  Once they have become completely yellowish-green, the pulp becomes soft and comes off easily from the branch, they are harvested by hand picking or shaking the tree. Some of the unripened green lapsi that has fallen from the trees are separated and left to ripen further. 
The boiled tough skin of the lapsi fruit (lapsi ko bokra) can also be dried with or without adding seasonings.  It becomes excessively brittle once dried,  so it is not good for chewing, but is used as a souring agent for some pickles.

Taking pictures and enjoying my early morning shopping trip to the market for fresh, and seasonally grown vegetables at the peak of their flavor - lapsi fruits, fresh green beans, tomatoes, garden peas, and green chilies.
Lapsi ko titaura - sweet lapsi nuggets  (लप्सी को तितौरा) is one of my most favorite and delicious fruit nuggets made from the native fruit of Nepal. It is prepared by first boiling the fruit until the pulp separates from the seed and skin. The pulp is mixed with sugar, salt, cayenne pepper, ground cinnamon, cardamom powder, pinch of ground asafetida, and other spices, and made into nuggets.  It is sun-dried until the moisture is evaporated, and no longer sticky and has a smooth surface. The nuggets should be completely dry, or else, they may develop mold when storing.  
It is made similar to the lapsi nuggets, called  Lapsi ko Maadaa  - (लप्सी को माडा) or lapsi fruit leather.  The spiced pulp is spread in the prepared wicker tray (nanglo), about one half-inch thick, and left to sun-dry for several days.  Once dried, it is removed and cut into desired pieces and rolled in sugar to protect from air and moisture.  
The chewy fruit rolls, locally known as maadaa, is a variation.  It is prepared by boiling the fruit until the skin splits, seed separates, and the pulp is seasoned.  Then it is poured into a flat tray and dried until the moisture gradually evaporates.  As the fruit slowly dries, it takes on a leather-like appearance and chewy texture.  The maadaa is pulled off from the drying surface, cut into narrow strips, and rolled into bite size pieces.  It is consumed as an after-meal refresher, or can be eaten any time of the day, or can be stored in an air-tight moisture proof container or plastic wrap.  This variation is usually hot and spicy, and popular among younger crowds.
New Road Paaun Bhandar, Kathmandu - one of the largest fruit candy stores - enormous selection of freshly made titauraa-maadaa - bursting with favors - (chili lapsi maadaa, guleo lapsi ko titauraa, jhol titauraa, regular lapsi candy, lapsi powder, lapsi sweet and sour candy, trekking fruits, etc)
Commercially made, packaged lapsi nuggets,  in several different shapes and sizes are sold in the markets.  On the left (orange) is a spicy one, and on the right (white) is made with a mixture of fruit and sugar only.
Lapsi ko Achaar (लप्सी को अचार) is among the most popular of all Nepali fruit pickles.  The rich, brown pickle tastes sweet, spicy, and tangy.  When making achaar, only ripe, fresh, and smooth-skinned lapsi  is used for the best quality. Lapsi is boiled first until tender and its skin loose which should come off easily.  The pulp and seeds should be intact.  The peeled fruit is cooked with oil, sugar and spices such as fenugreek seeds, dried chillies, turmeric, cinnamon, ground cardamom, fennel seeds and chopped dry fruits. The cooked pickle is cooled completely before placing in a jar.  The pickle will keep for more than one year at room temperature.

Lapsi seeds (लप्सी को गेडा) are used as home-made spinning toys (champati) and children enjoy playing and comparing their record for the longest spin. The stony seeds are also used as a cooking fuel in some villages in Nepal.

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2 comments:

  1. Lapsi ko madaa is making my mouth water. Nice photos.

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  2. mmmmmmmmmm...lapsi paaun!!!Sweet, sour and spicy!! the ones that i bring from nepal already finished...thinking about going back just for them!! ;)

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